The Netherlands legalized prostitution in 1999 because the old articles of the penal code, which banned brothels and profited from the profits of prostitution (but did not criminalize prostitutes), were no longer sufficient to control the globalized sex industry in the last decades of the twentieth century. Local authorities have been unable to curb excesses, as courts have rejected any attempt at regulation as a violation of the penal code. The National Association of Municipalities (VNG) called for the ban on brothels to be lifted so that municipalities could regulate the sex industry, a demand echoed by parliament in the early 1980s. The new feminist movement developed the new framework of prostitution as work and prostitutes as modern, emancipated sex workers. This proved consistent with the liberal discourse on the issue, which favored individual choice and treated the sex trade as a normal business, and with left-wing feminism. In this way, it became the dominant discourse among secular parties. When the Christian Democrats, opposed to the legalisation of prostitution, were ousted from power in 1994, Purple`s secular cabinets (1994-2002) seized the opportunity to legalise prostitution in order to regulate it pragmatically. In 1999, the new law was passed, with voting sharply divided along the secular/religious divide in parliament. Implementation of the new law has been delegated to local authorities responsible for health and safety requirements, and sex workers are entitled to social rights, as well as taxes and social security.
Let`s start with the Red Light District, one of Amsterdam`s most famous neighborhoods. It is also a neighborhood where you can find cafes, sex museums, weed and therefore many tourists. And just so you know, it`s not only famous for prostitution, but also one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Amsterdam. So don`t miss it, even if you don`t want to see halfway windows in – hint: not much happens during the day/morning. It`s very much in the city center, a five minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal, so you really can`t miss it. Historically, it was close to the port, hence the development of prostitution in this area for centuries. In the first years after legalisation, the Christian-Democrat/Liberal/Social Liberal cabinet Balkenende II agreed that it was too early to pass judgment on the new situation (e.g. TK 2002–2003, 25437, No.
30. February 2003). However, recurrent publicity about the persistence of trafficking in women and the panic of «lovers» has led to a new portrayal of sex workers as young girls as victims of abuse and trafficking as organized crime. This was echoed by Christian Democrats, Orthodox Protestants and Law and Order Liberals in parliament, who began calling for measures against «youth prostitution» involving «vulnerable young girls» or children. The definition of «adolescent» or «child» varied during the parliamentary debate. The minimum legal age for the definition of minors in the Netherlands is 18, which is also the age of consent to sex work, while it is 16 for sex in general. But in the new discourse, the «very young prostitutes» were all sex workers under the age of 23 (TK 2002-2003, 25437, 25437, No. 31. Minister`s letter, 13 May 2003, p. 12; (TK 2008 2009, 28638, No.
39. Verslag Algemeen Overleg Vaste Kamercommissie Justitie, 22 December 2008, p. 7; p. 13). Later, Christian and Liberal MPs with «slightly mentally handicapped girls» in prostitution were added to give the issue greater urgency (TK 2008–2009, 28638, No. 39, Verslag Algemeen Overleg Vaste Commissie Justitie, 22 December 2008, p. 7; p. 11). However, no evidence was found to support this claim. The former Dutch colony in the Caribbean is a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. But when it comes to refugees, there is little help from The Hague. Even in a modern and tolerant society, where it has become a legal practice – or perhaps ironically, because of this tolerance – prostitution ultimately does not reach its potential.
Brants, C. (1998). The art of regulated tolerance: prostitution in Amsterdam. Zeitschrift für Recht und Gesellschaft, 25, 621-635. As sex workers struggle to set rental and working conditions on their own terms, policymakers continue to advocate for adequate safety and policing. But whether on windows or «tippel zones» (spaces assigned to street prostitution), when sex work moves to private life, it remains politically beneficial for municipal councils to maintain control over trafficking by strengthening the distinction between legal and illegal work, private and public spaces, and the difference between sex work and work. While politics has every right to demand transparency from the industry, the act of defining what constitutes a legal and illegal sexual transaction reveals the central problem itself: the distinction between sexuality and sexualized work. The Amsterdam City Government considers it essential to ensure safe and healthy working conditions and greater independence for sex workers in Amsterdam.
The city`s prostitution policy aims to involve the entire sex industry in empowering Amsterdam`s sex workers and combating abuse. Prostitution is also considered regular work. Sex workers have the same rights, protections and obligations as any other worker in the Netherlands. Since 2011, they have even been paying taxes on their income. This is also the practical side of the Netherlands: if there is a way to tax it. A prostitute is always a source of many different reactions. Jealousy is certainly one of them. And many spouses were relieved when he saw her husband go to the red light district because she refused to have sex with him. This is also the reason why the Catholic Church tolerates prostitution. According to recent studies, 70% of all clients of prostitutes are married.
The Netherlands legalized prostitution in 1999 and is currently considering a new bill, the Act to Regulate Prostitution and Combat Abuse in the Sex Industry. Legalization distinguishes between voluntary sex work, which is legal, and forced prostitution, which is still punishable. Nevertheless, prostitution was considered a dishonorable profession. Prostitutes are not supposed to abide by sexual rules and are not protected by law. The concept of «honour» was very important in modern Dutch society. Honour had social significance, but it also had legal consequences. «Honourable» people had more rights. Until the end of the sixteenth century, honor was, along with citizenship, the most important criterion for the stratification of society. Let us now turn to a personal opinion. When I first went to the Red Light District, I felt very uncomfortable. Because it`s still prostitution. I was in this naïve state of «prostitution in the Netherlands is bad, we must fight it and not accept it!» But let us think about it.
The Dutch have a very pragmatic approach and I do not think they are wrong. Men and women can choose their clients safely, they have legal protection, they have access to health care. It`s really much better for sex workers than risking prosecution themselves if they want to report abuse. The police also check for human trafficking, so they restrict that. Second, there was the unauthorized sector, which consisted of a variety of sexual services, where pimping and coercion still took place and where many prostitutes were «illegal» or underage. The women who worked here were mainly considered «foreigners» from Eastern Europe and West Africa, and had taken the place of Latin American or Thai and Filipino women of previous decades. The profession of prostitution can be divided into certain categories: although the two cabinets revised the text after the debate in committee, the main intentions remained more or less unchanged during the debate in plenary of the Second Chamber in spring 2011. There was consensus among parliamentary parties on the objectives of the law, none of which challenged the dominant order. The parties disagreed on the 1999 law: religious parties considered it a failure, while secular parties still supported legalization, attributing its shortcomings to the lack of enforcement of the law and the shortcomings of the original. In general, many feared that the new bill would create a «paper reality» of administrative measures that would prove ineffective.