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De Wallen, the infamous red light district in Amsterdam , Holland, is under threat. Many of its window brothels , in which women are displayed like carcasses for the entertainment of sex tourists, are closing down. Most legal street prostitution zones across the country have closed, and soon they will all cease operation. A number of politicians and law enforcers are now accepting that legalised prostitution has been an unmitigated disaster.
There is currently a proposed law being considered by the Dutch Senate which, if passed, would result in punters being criminalised if they pay for sex with a trafficked, pimped or otherwise coerced woman. These changes are the result of a vibrant sex trade abolitionist movement emerging in Holland.
The government promised that this would result in safety for the women, and an end to trafficking. It claimed that everything would be above board, safe and clean. The opposite happened. Sex tourism is now a major industry, with British men being one group of Europeans visiting the city to pay for sex. I have been visiting Holland over the course of 15 years, researching the consequences of legalisation. Xaviera Hollander is a big part of the propaganda machine that promotes the notion that prostituted women under legalisation are having a great time.
I visited her at her home in Amsterdam , to ask if she thinks the women are happy under legalisation. She admits to me that trafficking is on the rise, and that legalisation is far from effective in removing criminality from the sex trade. Coming from a former pimp, this is quite something. I asked the guide where he got his information from, and he told me that the Prostitution Information Centre PIC provide, for a fee, information for all of the tour companies. What once looked like a revolutionary approach to prostitution is now clearly seen as a disaster, by all except those who seek to make a profit from prostitution.
Jolanda Boer is a senior public prosecutor specialising in human trafficking. Over the past decade Boer has dealt with more than such cases in Amsterdam. The women are not in a position to freely tell people when something is going wrong. On Saturday I spoke to a packed room about my book on the global sex trade.