The measure would shift brothel appointments to an online platform
By Andrew Mark Miller
As the Dutch city gets ready to vote on an ordinance that would permanently close brothel window curtains in order to more adequately follow the #MeToo movement and combat nuisance tourism, Amsterdam’s renowned red-light district may soon look very different.
Currently, the red curtains that cover the windows of the renowned brothels in Amsterdam’s DeWallen neighborhood are only drawn when a client is being entertained or a sex worker is not present. If the municipal council decides to keep them closed permanently this week, that situation would change, according to The Telegraph.
According to the liberal D66 party’s proposal, clients would schedule appointments using a QR code on their smartphones and the brothel curtains would remain closed, preventing sex workers from luring customers in through the window.
The plan has drawn criticism from some sex workers who claim it will harm their industry and put them in danger by preventing them from determining any potential threats a client may present.
“How can I attract clients with the curtains closed?” a sex worker named “Lucy” told The Telegraph. “They say it is for my protection, but that is nonsense. If someone denigrates me, I denigrate them back. It isn’t an automatic service I negotiate. If drunk people come, I don’t let them in.”
Politicians in favor of new process argue that online bookings replacing window negotiation will clean up nuisance tourism and change the perception people have of the city.
“The red-light district is not a lawless place,” Ilana Rooderkerk, head of the local branch of the D66, said about the plan. “Sex work has become a tourist attraction, accompanied by very undesirable, degrading behavior towards sex workers. This does not contribute to improving the position of women in the MeToo era.”
In addition to addressing the curtains in the red-light district, the measure will make other changes to crack down on nuisance tourism, including banning marijuana smoking in public areas, closing bars at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m., and closing window brothels at 3 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.
“We need to get rid of this image of Amsterdam as a city where you go to do all the things that aren’t allowed at home, such as drugs and prostitution,” Christian Democratic Appeal councillor Diederik Boomsma said.
“We need to overcome this jaded, faux-progressive understanding of freedom as liberation from all taboos and letting yourself go and return to a more mature understanding of freedom, as self-government.”
The overall push by lawmakers to clean up the red-light district has been dubbed the “stay away” campaign as it looks to discourage tourists from coming to the area with the intention of engaging in lawlessness.
“Some businesses misuse Amsterdam’s image to sell it as a place of ‘unlimited possibilities,'” Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki said in a statement. “As a result, some groups of visitors think of it as a city where anything goes. This kind of tourism, as well as offerings specifically targeting these groups, is not considered desirable by the Municipal Executive.”