The Dutch privacy watchdog AP has warned that new regulations that require sex workers to register could lead to an increase in exploitation and human trafficking.
The new legislation gives local councils the powers to set up a register of sex workers which, the government hopes, will help combat forced prostitution.
But the AP warned on Wednesday the registration system is likely to have the opposite effect and drive prostitution underground. This will result in more illegal sex work and less exposure to the authorities.
“Surely we don’t want sex workers to be worse off because of government policy,” AP deputy director Monique Verdier said.
The AP has therefore advised the government not to proceed with the current legislation and to better investigate the potential adverse effects.
The Council of State, the government’s highest advisory body, said in 2021 that the law could form a “high barrier to practicing this profession legally”.
Sex workers too have said the legislation will make their jobs less safe, as well as pose a risk to privacy.
The AP said it is also concerned that different local authorities will adopt different requirements, which will also cause confusion.
“The legislation will allow councils to decide for themselves if the breach of privacy which registration will entail is necessary or not,” the AP said.
The AP also said in 2017 that compulsory registration of sex workers was a breach of privacy.