As an opening to this story that you are about to read, I take a few excerpts from Hollander’s book to buttress the points that would be raised as a matter of concern to this topic.
“…People alone, lonely, miserable. Lately I have “sinned” by selling my body to men… but it hasn’t been strictly commerce I have tried to give some happiness to those men even though they paid for it. I have been honest with them and filled a lost hour of loneliness by giving them a warm smile, cold drink, soft music to play in the background and then a warm and young body to hold, to press, to kiss, to make love to….He did not have to get drunk somewhere in the corner of the bar; his ego was flattered so was his masculinity. Honestly should you refuse his happiness to anybody? “
(Excerpt from the Happy Hooker by Xaviera Hollander)
The Dutch are business minded individuals having made fortunes through sea faring. They traded with India, China, Africa and the Americas centuries ago. In fact they had a Calvinistic attitude towards business. As sea farers, they had to make certain areas “sailor friendly” where they could entertain themselves and make plans for the next sea faring activity. That was when brothels and prostitutes came into the picture in Amsterdam.
Having this business acumen in mind, the Netherlands (Holland) became the first country in the world to legalize prostitution. The reasons for this being that they wanted to stop treating prostitutes in a hypocritical way. The rationale behind this was that it was better for the prostitutes to be controlled by the state or government rather than by making it “free” to put it in a different way. In this way, both the prostitute and the government could both benefit from the rewards of the trade.
The Red Light District (RLD) is the mirror of society. Everything that you can find in a society can be found in this small but heavily populated area. Summer is the busiest season in Amsterdam as a lot of tourist from all over the world irrespective of their religion, race, nationality or color come to Holland for various reasons but for some it is specifically to relive their lives in this sex tourism industry which has become an icon and center piece of attraction. It is a meeting point where all people from all walks and shades of religion meet. It is possible that you can run into the Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Atheist, Shintos etc. This area lies in the hub of the oldest profession in the world- prostitution. Annual revenue generated from prostitution in Holland is worth billions of Euros if not more. For a fact, the red light is the main entrance of the Netherlands first and foremost after the coffee shops. It is unique in the world for the freedom it enjoys in terms of sex, coffee shops and more beautiful naked women and girls. There is such a unity in diversity in Amsterdam. It is the Las Vegas of Holland in a similar way. To wit, the RLD is the Netherlands and the Netherlands is the RLD. They are inseparable and considered as bed-fellows.
Recently, politicians and businesses for their close-mouthed reasons are beginning to push for the closure of the Red Light District. The reasons being that there is too much criminality, too much money laundering etc involved in the trade. The fear of crime is pushing the government to shut down the red light district as a social control mechanism. As a radical measure thus, the city reclaimed a lot of “windows” (windows here refers to the rooms that girls operate in) under the pretext that they were run by criminals and criminality was growing higher in the Amsterdam area in particular and Netherlands in general.
Now the question that everyone would be asking is, if you claim that you don’t want window prostitution, then why the hell in the first place did they introduce and legalize it? There are several ways of combating crime and one way is not to push hard by finger pointing that window prostitution is the main problem.
Have the policy makers paused to think of the following questions and consequences: Are there jobs for these girls when their windows are shut down? No. Are there other alternatives for these girls when the laws are enforced? No. These girls are being forced into the streets and out of business.
But the irony and failure that the politicians of Netherlands are refusing to understand is that, human behavior is complex and so it is with the behavior of prostitutes. These girls would go underground and operate in sub-urban places such as people’s homes, they would go into the internet or relocate to other countries and the cycle of prostitution would be vicious and even more uncontrollable. In other parts of the world, you can get away with murder, but not with prostitution.
Tourism would go low if the Red Light is shut down. This is pretty simple! It doesn’t require a consultant to tell you this obvious consequence. Tourists do not come to Holland only to see the dikes or dams and canals, or get to know how cheese is made, nor do they come purposefully to see the beautiful tulips in Lisse. People come for various reasons, but many climax their visit by going to the Amsterdam red light district. A visit to the Netherlands is not complete without a visit to the red light district.
As far as people and tourism are concerned, window prostitution in Amsterdam should be actively encouraged and not discouraged. It is ridiculous to note that, a country such as the Netherlands is putting “sand in into its own sandwich”. In fact, which city or country does that to its main source of revenue generation? Netherlands is shooting itself in the foot for sure!