A social investment fund has agreed to operate several brothels in Amsterdam’s red light district, the Volkskrant said on Thursday.
The Start Foundation helps vulnerable people find jobs and has previously invested in a shrimp processing plant for people with mental disabilities and an IT company focused on employing people with autism.
The foundation has now agreed to buy four buildings from the city council which had been taken over as part of the city’s clean up efforts for the district.
The foundation will set up a new company to run the buildings and the 14 windows will be rented out to a new foundation called My Red Light, the paper said. This foundation describes itself as ‘the first sex company in the Netherlands and Europe in which sex workers have control’.
The city council has been trying to combat human trafficking and exploitation in the red light district since 2007 and has bought out several notorious brothel keepers. Over 100 windows have been closed.
Sex worker lobby group Proud has described the project as deceptive. ‘Lots of sex workers want to be their own bosses but they never get a permit,’ spokeswoman Yvette Luhrs told the Volkskrant. ‘This prestige project is a very small plaster on a stinking sore.’
Rabobank is also part of the experiment and has agreed to lend money to furnish the rooms and build the website. ‘We believe in the empowerment of sex workers,’ a spokesman told the paper.
In July two Dutch pension funds said they had invested €60m into a fund to redevelop parts of Amsterdam’s red light district.