Prostitution is a fact of life and the fact that some countries, like the Netherlands, choose not to close their eyes to the brothel business is something to be lauded. But things start getting a little tricky when tolerance of a red light district starts nudging towards exploiting it as a major tourist attraction.

And the whole thing descends into a deeply unpleasant form of voyeurism when the press and public collude to pretend that this weekend’s ‘open day’ in the Amsterdam red light district is a perfectly normal state of affairs.
It is absurd to think that the sex-for-cash, sex shows and ‘erotic clubs’ that are crammed into this small area of the city are anything other than seedy.
This year, the open day even had a few gigolos, for the female visitors – announced well in advance, of course, to guarantee maximum publicity.
‘Looking for the sperm stains’ screams the headline above the feature on page two of the Volkskrant, quoting one of the ‘ordinary’ visitors to the open day. Ordinary? Normal?
May we suggest that most ordinary, normal people would be enjoying the spring sunshine at the weekend, doing their shopping or watching the kids play hockey.
And that most ordinary, normal people have nothing against prostitution and are happy to cycle through Amsterdam’s red light district if that’s the easiest way to get from A to B, but find the Volkskrant’s headline cynical at best and disgusting at worst.
And as for the red light open day, perhaps most ordinary, normal people find it nothing more than a pathetic PR campaign for something that is nothing more than a fact of life.

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