The number of licensed brothels and escort agencies in the Netherlands fell to 674 in 2014, compared with 1,127 in 2006, according to a new report compiled for the justice ministry.
The figures also show six out of 10 local authorities have no licensed sex business within their boundaries. There are just under 400 local council areas in the Netherlands.
The researchers say the decline may be due to the rise in the online sex industry. In addition, Amsterdam licenses window-based brothels using a different system.
Justice minister Ard van der Steur says it is difficult to get a grip on the size of the unlicensed industry but that exploitation, human trafficking and forced prostitution are a serious issue. Licensed brothels generally stick to the rules, he said.
The researchers interviewed some 400 prostitutes and 200 other people for the project. Although most of the prostitutes interviewed said they were satisfied with their working conditions, more than half said they had thought about leaving the sex industry and a ‘substantial proportion’ had tried to do so.
Van der Steur said he wants to speed up efforts to bring in a uniform approach to licensing brothels. The legislation stranded because of divisions over the introduction of an official prostitution register.
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