Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Dutch sex industry is dying


The Dutch prostitutes' rights organisation the red thread has published a new report. It is called Sekswerk in 2011 – trendrapport. You can download it here:

It is a follow-up of an older report, called rechten van prostituees, published in 2006. I have written about this report here:

The red thread has done some fieldwork among prostitutes, and they also received questions or complaints from prostitutes via telephone or e-mail.

They already noticed in the 2006 report that the number of prostitution businesses is decreasing over the years. They estimate that in 2000 there were approximately 800 clubs, privéhuizen and massage parlours (remember: a club is a brothel with a bar where alcohol is served, a privéhuis is a brothel without such a bar). They estimated that in 2005 there were fewer than 500 clubs, privéhuizen and massage parlours in the Netherlands (they collected a list in 2005 of 633 addresses, of which 147 turned out to be closed). That number has dropped to around 340-350 in 2011. Also window prostitution has declined (judging from my own countings the number of windows has dropped from over 2000 to around 1100).

The red thread also notices that the number of customers who visit prostitutes is dropping. That was also true in 2006, and this trend has continued up until 2011. According to the red thread this is also the reason why the number of brothels is going down. The red thread also notices this during their field trips to window prostitution areas and brothels. When they are in brothels or window prostitution areas, they notice a very low number of (potential) clients. They name the Achterdam in Alkmaar as an example. A number of windows have been closed down in that area, but according to the red thread the municipality has unwittingly adjusted the supply to the demand. Several women in Alkmaar tell them that business is slack, but that was nothing new. This was already the case since a long time. Closing down several windows didn't have an influence on that. Others however said that they were actually happy that 50 windows have been closed down. "I don't have to work such long days anymore because there are a lower number of windows. Now we are allowed to share a window." Another woman said that there are an equal number of clients, but a lower number of women. One of these women, a Hungarian, said that because of this she didn't have to work seven days per week anymore. According to another woman, the ones who weren't able to work in that area, worked in little apartments in the neighbourhood of stations.

The red thread also worries about the exploitation of Hungarian prostitutes. They also noticed this during their fieldwork. A Hungarian fieldworker of the red thread, clearly notices the perceptible presence of Hungarian pimps in the window prostitution areas. They name some examples (but I will not repeat them here, I'm sick of lampooning the sex industry even further).

The red thread also notices that: the number of Chinese massage parlours has increased, the role of the internet is steadily increasing in the sex industry, in politics and in the media there is only attention for forced prostitution, and the discussion about the Swedish style criminalisation of clients flares up in the Netherlands.

The red thread also names some examples of the complaints they receive from prostitutes. I cannot help it to name one particular example of a prostitute who says:
I have the feeling that I have no place to work anymore without being exploited. It is as if all these places have the same accountant or something. They supposedly withhold taxes while they put our share of the money in their own pockets. When you ask for a real pay slip then they give one with a different address and name of the business on it, and with something different regarding numbers on it and so-called payment of expenses. They say that if you don't like it then you have to work somewhere else. What must I do now?
Final conclusion: beware where your money goes to when you visit a prostitute, the prostitutes are tricked and exploited by the brothel owners. And it doesn't matter if brothels are closed down, the clients are staying away anyway. And prostitutes won't have to work so hard anymore when brothels are closed down. It is a win-win situation.

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