Opinion: Red light districtPOSTED: 11/4/11 12:16 PM
Amsterdam’s red light district has been a tourist attraction like forever, but those days may come to an end. The Dutch capital promotes the district on its promotional website, saying that the evening is the best time to visit.
The site is going a tad too far, one member of the municipal council has charged. In its enthusiasm to attract tourists, Amsterdam is turning a blind eye to what Alderman Lodewijk Asscher has described as the raw reality of the sex industry.
Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000 mainly to give local authorities options to regulate the industry and to offer some sort of protection to the women who make a living as a prostitute. Almost eleven years down the road, that concept has failed; experts claim that between 50 and 90 percent of prostitutes working in Amsterdam have been forced into the job.
This in spite of the fact that the prostitutes are unionized, that they have police protection as well as an information center.
All these things we do not have in St. Maarten, but there are plenty (around 200) prostitutes on the island. The Border Bar is currently under investigation for human trafficking and God knows what else this case will bring to light. That is a firm indication that there is plenty of room for improvement in the local whorehouse business. If the situation for working girls in a regulated country like the Netherlands is bad, how much worse could it be in St. Maarten?
In Amsterdam, at long last it has dawned on one council member to point to the ugly side of prostitution. That council member is a woman of course, and her name is Marijke Shahasavari. We do not expect any of the male members of our parliament to raise the issue, but we also have three female MPs and they ought to have a better feeling for what it means to be forced into this particular sector of the economy.
Prostitution will always be there, we have no illusions as far as that is concerned, but our decision makers could at least put some measures in place to protect these working girls, even though those measures will not result in ideal working conditions.