Back in July, I wrote a post about the Red Light District in Amsterdam where I shared some interesting facts about the De Wallen (as it is known to locals) district. One topic I did not discuss in the post was the Red Light District’s association with prostitution.
I can’t lie – the Red Light District and prostitution go hand-in-hand, but the Amsterdam version is not the same as most North Americans are familiar with. Therefore, I thought the idea of prostitution in Amsterdam deserved its own post, because it’s a topic often considered taboo. But if you’re travelling to Amsterdam it’s a topic you’ll be talking about. I promise. Now let’s get you some answers…
Is prostitution legal in Amsterdam?
In 2000, the Dutch ban on brothels was lifted and a licensing system was introduced meaning prostitution has become a legal means of generating income within the country.
What does a licensing system mean?
Prostitutes are now legally required to join a national register. This has resulted in making the industry more transparent and has also reduced illegal practices and the exploitation of children. There are now municipal regulations about the organization and the practice of business which are enforced by the police, the urban district council, and multiple health authorities.
What is the legal age for prostitution?
In July 2013, the legal age of prostitution was raised from 18 to 21. The change was introduced after it was decided that peoples of the age of 21 are better able to make a well-informed decision about working in the field than those who are 18.
How many prostitutes are there in Amsterdam?
It is estimated that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 working in the sex industry in Amsterdam.
Are there different forms of prostitution?
There are many different forms of prostitution in Amsterdam. There are prostitutes who work in a window (Red Light District), in a club or a ‘private house’ (a sex club without a bar), as escorts, at home or on the street.
Do prostitutes really pay taxes in Amsterdam?
Prostitutes are treated as independent entrepreneurs, meaning the are required to submit the income declaration and pay taxes.
I heard that the prostitutes have a union, is this true?
There are various advocacy groups for prostitutes, but no union. The Red Thread (De Rode Draad in Dutch) was an advocacy group that often referred to themselves as a union, but they are no longer active (as of 2012).
The closest thing would be the Prostitute Information Centre (PIC) in the Red Light District. The PIC is a charitable foundation that informs the public about the social conditions of women working in the sex industry and assists prostitutes in the area with various concerns/ problems.
If prostitution is legal, does that mean all the prostitutes are safe/ protected?
The trafficking of women and the exploitation of children is still a huge concern in Amsterdam, so by no means has making the industry legal abolished these problems. However, the Dutch government continues to enact laws that attempt to eliminate human trafficking and abuse. Most recently, the European Court of Justice ruled that that brothel owners must be able to communicate with sex workers in their own language.
I have yet to make an informed decision if I am for or against the legalization of prostitution, but I am always for knowing as much about a country/ city as I can before I arrive. Therefore, I hope this post gives you a little insight to how it all works in Amsterdam.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Care to share your opinion of the Red Light District?