Foreign prostitutes often work without the proper business registration and without paying tax, according to organisations that support sex workers.
The organisation Fier and Amsterdam-based Red Light United told Nieuwsuur television programme that many foreign prostitutes have no idea of the current rules and regulations.
They are apparently unaware of a government information website, Prostitutie goed geregeld (‘well-regulated prostitution’), as well as local council regulations – which are far stricter in some areas than in others.
Meanwhile, a bill is currently going through parliament that would increase their obligations, by introducing a new national licencing scheme and fines for unlicensed sex workers, their employers and clients. Major cities have already said they are concerned that this would increase non-compliance risks for vulnerable groups.
Audrey Grolleman of Fier, an organisation specialising in violence in relationships, which often helps these foreign sex workers, told Nieuwsuur that many have no idea of their current obligations.
‘For many women that we help, it is really very unclear,’ she said. ‘They have no idea where to start and which laws and rules we have in the Netherlands that they should comply with. If you come from Eastern Europe, for instance, you have no idea what you are supposed to do. Most of them don’t know that you need to pay tax in the Netherlands if you are working here.’
Felicia Anna, from Red Light United, a union for window workers in De Wallen, added that information on Amsterdam web pages was hard to find ‘of course, all in Dutch, and not at all clear.’ She proposed government and local authority assistance to help women wanting to start as sex workers, and not just those who want to stop.
Sex workers should register with the Chamber of Commerce as freelance workers, file returns and pay tax, and by not doing so they risk losing benefits if they stop sex work and also risk fines of up to €80,000, added Ineke van Buren of the Salvation Army to the news programme.
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