Amsterdam proposes measures to ban ‘disrespectful’ red light district tours
In an effort to restrict the increasing numbers of tourists to the historic area, Amsterdam is set to ban guided tours of its red-light district. Noting ‘disrespectful’ attitudes towards sex workers in the area, the ban aims to normalise sex-workers within the area.
Known globally for its historic beauty as a city and contemporary attitudes with its red-light district, Amsterdam has fast become a global tourist destination. Despite being a city of just 850,000, cheap flights, online bookings and global appeal has led to the city seeing 19 million tourists each year.
With Mayor Femke Halsema predicting an increase to 29 million annual visitors by 2025, the city is becoming increasingly unliveable in according to locals.
With sex-work still stigmatised and criminalised across the world, Amsterdam has been, and continues to be, at the forefront of safe, legal sex work. Despite the English Collective of Prostitutes calling for the removal of laws relating to consensual adult sexual behaviour, arguing that criminalisation only harms vulnerable women further, most countries share a criminal attitude towards anybody involved with sex work.
However, Amsterdam’s relaxed attitude towards sex work encourages safety as priority. With measures aimed at preventing forced prostitution and exploitation, an open and honest approach has allowed the industry to thrive whilst enforcing protective measures for workers. Sex-workers within the red light district have access to their own union, police protection, monitoring and testing to professional standards.
City Councillor Udo Kock stated that, “It is no longer acceptable in this age to see sex workers as a tourist attraction,”. With 80% of sex workers feeling gawping tourists are bad for their business, it is clear that once again, Amsterdam remains at the forefront of protecting sex workers from exploitation.
Coming into effect from the 1st January, the ban will encompass paid and free tours which traditionally have had a magnetic effect on visitor numbers.