An Amsterdam council experiment to help sex workers run their own brothel in the city’s notorious red light district should never have been started, according to an independent report commissioned by city officials.
Lawyer Corinne Dettmeijer, the former national rapporteur on human trafficking, says in her report that running a safe and financially secure brothel would appear to have been too ambitious.
‘Let me state first of all, I do not think the council should ever have started with this,’ Dettmeijer said in the report’s conclusions.
The report states that most of the women working in the My Red Light brothel are Bulgarian nationals and that there have been four cases of suspected human trafficking, which were not properly reported.
The company can be fined €25,000 for failing to report suspicions of human trafficking.
In addition, the idea that former sex workers can set up and run a successful company is based on thin air, Dettmeijer says. The three former prostitutes running the operation were barely able to keep afloat and were having to cope with far too high expectations from both city hall and others who had invested in the project.
The decline in the number of men using the brothel is also having an impact and the Parool reported on Tuesday that the women using the facility want to move to another location where there are less tourists and they can also solicit clients via internet. This is banned in the council-backed brothel.
The brothel, which has 14 windows, is housed in four buildings bought by the city some 10 years ago from red light district lynch pin Charles Geerts. Amsterdam’s former mayor Eberhard van der Laan was one of the main drivers of the project.
‘The fact that sex workers are going to run a prostitution company themselves is an important next step in the normalisation of sex work,’ the mayor said ahead of the brothel opening 18 months ago.
The three parties which now run Amsterdam city council have drawn up a string of proposals for dealing with the city’s red light district and moving prostitution to a new location is one of the options.
City mayor Femke Halsema says there are ‘no taboos at all’ when it comes to making the area, the oldest part of the city, more habitable. The area has been home to prostitution for centuries, because of its proximity to the docks
She is due to publish her vision on prostitution early this year.
Despite her misgivings, Dettmeijer recommends that the project be allowed to continue but with much tighter supervision and says the council should become much more involved.
Measures must also be made to improve the safety of the women working in the brothel and any suspicion of human trafficking should be reported immediately, she said. ‘There can be no debate about this point,’ Dettmeijer said.
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