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WOMEN in lingerie dance in windows as hordes of worse-for-wear lads stumble past, ogling and desperately trying to decide if they have enough euros in their wallets for a quick stop off. Over 20 million tourists visit the city each year, drawn by the city's liberal stance when it comes to drugs and buying sex. While buying sex is legal in the Netherlands as long as it is between two consenting adults, a campaign group spearheaded by feminists and Christians are trying to overturn this.
The Dutch parliament is now set to debate whether to change the law, after the group Exxpose generated a petition with over 40, signatures. Here, one sex worker and one young woman campaigning to close down the red light district go head-to-head They set the rules and they decide whether to let a client in or not.
When I was doing that I saw a lot of the patients craved physical affection. Sometimes they told you nicely, sometimes they misbehaved and grabbed you. They only see and hear what they want to — they think sex workers must have had a bad childhood or be addicts. I thought the whole point of feminism was empowering women to do as they please, not restricting their rights and opportunities. Tourists can walk around the Red Light District gawping at them without paying any money at all — those ladies are a tourist attraction and a lot of people get to see them in their underwear for free.
Our campaign is staffed by volunteers, mostly young people. We see too much harm going on, too much human trafficking and we object to the normalisation of the buying of sex. The Netherlands could follow in the footsteps of France, Sweden and others who have already made it illegal to pay for sex acts. Demand for prostitution in countries who follow the 'Nordic Model', as this law is known, has decreased too.
Estimates of the amount of prostitutes in the Netherlands vary, but there are thought to be between 15, and 30, Sex workers there now pay tax on their earnings. In , the number of prostitutes in the UK was estimated as being 72,, while one in ten men admit paying for sex. I worked in a rehab centre for a while and I saw that. I spoke to my friends and we realised that we might be able to really change things if we could get the government to talk about the issue.