Amsterdam's first female mayor, Femke Halsema, launched plans on Wednesday to completely transform the famous Red Light District and revive the 500-year-old neighborhood, part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
In an attempt to protect sex workers from gawping tourists, Halsema drafted a reported called "The Future of Window Prostitution in Amsterdam."
The report explores different options to overhaul the area, including the relocation of the prostitution-related businesses away from the historic center, reducing their number significantly, and stepping up the licensing of window workers. The mayor does not exclude closing all window brothels in the district, confirmed from Halsema in a letter to the city council.
The report also includes a proposal for an "erotic city zone," similar to the one in Hamburg, Germany, that would have a clear entrance gate. The Amsterdam town hall would organize meetings with locals and businesses this month before choosing one of the options and put it to a vote in the city council in the fall.
It would be the most radical shift in the Red Light District since The Netherlands legalized prostitution nearly 20 years ago. In an interview with Reuters, the mayor said that the changes were much needed.
One of the main concerns the mayor has is about sex workers safety, given the rise of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women. In addition to that, Halsema pointed out that sex workers do not feel comfortable being photographed continuously by tourists and posted on social media.
It is not the first time the town hall makes an effort to control the Red Light District. However, all the past attempts faced strong opposition both from sex workers and business owners.
The mayor also emphasized that for the moment Amsterdam has no plans to outlaw prostitution. Halsema pointed out that legalizing prostitution has made sex workers independent, autonomous, and less vulnerable.
Femke Halsema called out for active public involvement to find the best solution for the future of the historical city center. In her view, the Amsterdam the time was now as the Amsterdam, and its residents were ready to embrace the change.
The first meetings take place next week. In addition to that, the municipality would send some representatives to talk to sex workers, brothel owners, and everyone involved in the industry in the Red Light District. After the holiday season, the city council would discuss the proposal and make an action plan.
What is your opinion? Do you think that Amsterdam should keep the Red Light District the way it is?