BIG BUSINESS

I have previously written two posts on this blog about the Utrecht red light district: HOUSEBOAT and MIDNIGHT RUN. Those two posts have proven to be very popular with readers from around the world. Many people use Google searching with a specific subject and they are not looking for a blog, let alone one by me. But these searches are interesting: Utrecht red light district, Utrecht prostitutes, Utrecht houseboats and my personal favorite—directions to the red light area of Utrecht. That one comes up a lot, by the way. And no, I do not provide directions or even a map.

Americans are very interested in the things that are legal here, like prostitution, smoking pot and euthanasia. Most of the questions from friends are about the uniqueness of this country, not about the windmills, the tulips or even the museums. It is the red hot neighborhood in Amsterdam that seems to get people all excited. Most people don’t even know about the Utrecht prostitution business, and I find that one more interesting. I encourage you to read the earlier posts, as it will give you a good idea about the houseboats and how business is conducted.

But I am writing today to give you an update. If the city has its way, this whole area will be closed by the end of July. This area, known as Zandpad, has 98 houseboats and  there are 17 additional rooms in the city center. A total of 200 prostitutes are working in the city (we know this because they have registered with the city). You must understand that the city has set up regulations and the owners of these establishments must follow them in order to keep their permits. The city believes that many rules have been broken. They maintain that there is much criminal activity going on, that there is human trafficking and basic bad management. The city has the authority to shut down the entire operation and they have clearly said that if things do not improve, it will shut down at the end of July.

These are serious charges, as the city is trying to be protective of the rights of the female workers. The big concern is that young women have been brought to this country for one reason, and that they are not consenting to this work. Somehow, the “owners” have had to prove in the past, that their employees are freely entering into this business. But now, it seems that the city has some valid concerns about that.

All I can tell you is that the red light area is constantly busy. There is always a steady flow of cars driving by the houseboats, at any time of day. The economy is really hurting in The Netherlands, but it seems to be doing really well in this area of the city. I assume the same is true in Amsterdam. This is no longer just some fun place to go on your list of tourist stops, this brings up some serious issues, especially for young women. I hope there is a full investigation and that only legal and consenting adults will be working in this business after July. I will keep you posted.

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Comments

  • Leslie  On July 11, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Sex work will be a lucrative business as long as men have penises. But who benefits from human trafficking in sex workers? The young girls who think they have found an escape or have been kidnapped from their homes? No. they are slaves and used for profit by rings of criminals. If that is what is going on in Ultrecht and Amsterdam–then someone has to step in. This is happening in the US and all over the world. Women who are willing sex workers have the choice to do what they want–but I wonder how many prostitutes have chosen this profession because it was their goal or because they thought it would bring them independence?

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