Amsterdam urged to stop promoting its red light district

Amsterdam city council’s marketing department should stop promoting the red light district as an exciting tourist attraction, a CDA councillor says in Wednesday’s Trouw.


Encouraging tourists to visit the area ignores the problems associated with prostitution and tourists should be told the truth about the position of sex workers, CDA councillor Marijke Shahasavari is quoted as saying.
Amsterdam’s promotional website Iamsterdam recommends the evening as the best time to visit this (in)famous part of Amsterdam.
The website states: ‘prostitution has enjoyed a long tradition of tolerance in Amsterdam and, as with soft drugs, the Netherlands’ approach is to legalise the trade and impose regulations.’
‘In addition to preventing forced prostitution, this open and honest approach means sex-workers here have their own union, plenty of police protection, an information centre (for visitors as well), frequent monitoring and testing and professional standards.’
Raw reality
However, according to some police experts, between 50% and 90% of the prostitutes working in the area have been forced into it, even in officially-licenced brothels and clubs.
Last month, Amsterdam council executive Lodewijk Asscher said the Netherlands often deals with prostitution by turning a blind eye to the ‘raw reality’.
Many opinion writers and officials ‘deny’ that there are problems and believe the sex industry is well ordered, he said. But there is a ‘collective silence’ about the truth, he said, referring to forced prostitution and human trafficking.
For years Asscher has been involved in efforts to clean up Amsterdam’s notorious red light district by reducing the number of buildings licenced for prostitution and trying to combat crime.