The Labour party has started an investigation into the possibility of criminalising visits to prostitutes, the AD reports on Monday.
MP Myrthe Hilkens is to visit Sweden later this week to assess the implications of the ban there. In Sweden people who visit prostitutes can be fined or given a jail term, the AD says.
Deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher revealed himself as a fan of the tough Swedish line while alderman in charge of reducing crime in Amsterdam’s red light district.
Asscher, a Labour party minister, is currently working on a policy document together with justice minister Ivo Opstelten in which the government will outline its strategy to deal with the sex industry.
Hilkens told the AD she is visiting Sweden with an open mind, adding that forced prostitution is one of the ‘most important misunderstandings’ of our time.
Between 50% and 80% of the women working in the Dutch sex industry are said to have been forced into prostitution. ‘It is not the man who visits her who forces her but a people trafficker or a pimp. Or she is forced by addiction,’ Hilkens said. ‘I feel responsible for these women.’
Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands and brothels can apply for official licences. The government is planning to increase the age at which women can become prostitutes to 21.