When you think of Amsterdam, two things probably come to mind immediately: cannabis and sex. Well, if you’ve been paying attention to the changes taking place in Amsterdam recently, you know the city is changing dramatically. Earlier this year the city released a plan to ban foreign tourists from visiting coffee shops (cannabis shops). Now it’s moving to shut down the red light district and move the sex workers to an “erotic center” to the city’s outskirts.
Femke Halsema, the city’s mayor, recently put forward a proposal to close brothel windows, and the move is being supported by various political parties. The sex workers will need to move to a purpose-built “erotica center” elsewhere in Amsterdam.
Halsema believes the windows should be closed as the sex workers have become tourist attractions, the subject of gawking and verbal abuse, and draw the wrong type of visitor to the city.
Not all the women are on board, however. Red Light United, a lobby group for the district’s sex workers, said the women generally oppose the move. One member of the group told the local Het Parool newspaper, “Relocating those workplaces is not an option because then the customers will not know where to find the sex workers. Will Halsema also sometimes organise bus trips for them to the Westelijk Havengebied [a district north of the city centre]?”
In the past few years, Amsterdam’s city center has been slowly but surely changing to combat overtourism. The city has put measures in place to prevent new shops aimed at tourists from opening in its historic center, cracked down on Airbnbs in several districts, and banned guided tours of the red-light district.