Archive for the ‘Prostitution’ Category

Reporting by Thomas Escritt, Reuters

(Reuters) – Amsterdam is looking for an investor to buy five buildings where sex workers can work collectively in their own prostitution business, a spokesman for the city’s mayor says.

Currently, prostitutes in the city work individually, renting the windows where they stand on view for prospective customers from the brothel owners.

But this system leaves women vulnerable to pimps. City authorities hope the sex workers will be safer if they can work together in a building rented and run by a business they own. HVO-Querido, a foundation that teaches sex workers business skills, will help them run their enterprise.

“We’re looking for a third party, a social entrepreneur, to buy these buildings and let them to the prostitutes,” said spokesman Jasper Karman, adding the city might consider letting buildings itself if no investor could be found.

“Sex workers have told us they want this,” he said. “And it would provide a decent revenue for a third party.”

The five buildings, in the heart of the prostitution zone, would offer 19 work spaces for about 50 prostitutes.

The red light district attracts floods of tourists, but many in the city object to the sex work image.

In recent years, the city has been buying up brothels and turning them into shops.

But critics say reducing the number of windows for rent has driven up prices, forcing sex workers onto the street or into private flats where they are more vulnerable. -REUTERS

Originally found:


After having sex with 355,000 men between them, 70-year-olds Louise and Martine Fokkens have retired from career prostitution in Amsterdam, complaining that there’s no sense of “community” in the country’s sex work industry anymore, reports Codewit Europe.

Louise and Martine (mothers of four and three respectively), became prostitutes before the age of 20 in order to escape violent relationships. But after 50 years of hooking, the legalization of prostitution in the country in 2000, and a documentary about them calledMeet The Fokkens, the two have given up the life, complaining that the government takes most of their pay now. Just like the rest of us. “There is no point working just for tax.”

Click here for the original article.

Amsterdam twin Prostitute

Amsterdam twin Prostitute

Became prostitutes before they were 20 to escape violent relationships. Mother-of-four Louise says arthritis makes some positions ‘too painful’. Complain Amsterdam’s prostitutes no longer have ‘sense of community’ Twin sisters believed to be Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes have retired after more than 50 years each in the sex trade.

Photo - Amsterdam's oldest prostitutes retire at 70 after having sex with 355,000 men

Photo – Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes retire at 70 after having sex with 355,000 men

Louise, a mother of four, has said her arthritis now makes some sexual positions ‘too painful’. And mother-of-three Martine admits she is finding it hard to attract new punters – except one elderly man who still comes for his weekly sado-maschism session. She said: “I couldn’t give him up. He’s been coming to me for so long it’s like going to church on a Sunday.”

Photo - Amsterdam's oldest prostitutes retire at 70 after having sex with 355,000 men
Photo – Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes retire at 70 after having sex with 355,000 men

The pair were the subject of a documentary film last year called Meet the Fokkens, and have now written a book about their combined 100-years of sexual exploits called The Ladies of Amsterdam. Both women – who usually dress in identical red clothes – became prostitutes before the age of 20 to survive financially after escaping violent relationships. They now look back on the ‘golden years’ of the profession before the Netherlands legalised prostitution and the sex trade was invaded by ‘eastern European mafia’. Louise said: “It is very different now. We used to sit in the windows with clothes on. Today they are totally naked. “There are few Dutch women and no sense of community these days.”

Photo - Amsterdam's oldest prostitutes retire at 70 after having sex with 355,000 men

Photo – Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes retire at 70 after having sex with 355,000 men

Martine added: “The legalisation of brothels in 2000 has not improved prostitutes’ lives. “There is no point working just for tax. That is why the girls are working from the internet and from home – you are less likely to be spotted by the taxman. “It is better for the pimps and the foreigners, but not for the Dutch girls.” Martine and Louise said they now hoped to be able to live off their earnings from the book and film rights.

The Dutch capital is cleaning up its act. Brothels and cannabis cafés are being closed. But the most significant transformation is the renovation of the Rijksmuseum, says Robert Bevan.

At the medieval heart of Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk. The church, founded in 1213, is the city’s oldest building, a stripped back Calvinist beauty with pearly light pouring through its tall windows, over its gilded carvings and across its stone flagged floors. It is the kind of serene interior captured in the luminous oils of the Dutch Masters.

Outside, the activities are rather less sacred. The Oude Kerk is at the centre of Europe‘s largest red-light district – the Wallen – and is ringed by hot-pink shopfronts where sex workers tap the windows to attract any likely passing trade. Opposite the church door is one of dozens of cannabis cafés where you can spark up a joint of Lemon Haze and waste the day away.

For decades, such scenes have been regarded as examples of civilised Dutch tolerance – a “whatever blows your hair back” attitude – butAmsterdam has had enough. The municipality says its tolerance is being abused as the centre is being overwhelmed by tawdry sex shows, drug dealing and British stag-party weekenders. Organised crime has moved in and many businesses are fronts for money-laundering and human trafficking. So the city is rebranding itself, and has invested upwards of €700m on remaking its cultural institutions over the past decade.

The Van Gogh museum has been renovated and reopens in May, theNational Maritime Museum has been made ship-shape and the new EYE Film Institute Netherlands has opened in a futuristic building in the Overhoeks neighbourhood. The Stedelijk Museum of contemporary art, meanwhile, has been treated to a bath-like extension the size of a city block.

The futuristic EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam

‘The EYE Film Institute Netherlands has opened in a futuristic building’: Amsterdam’s answer to London’s National Film Theatre. Photograph: Henk Meijer /AlamyCrowning these efforts, the Rijksmuseum – the Dutch answer to the Louvre – reopened to the public this weekend after a decade-long closure. Under a €375m rebuilding project led by the Spanish architects Cruz y Ortiz, the museum’s two halves have been united by an undercroft that joins its two courtyards. The remodelling has been so extensive that only Rembrandt’s Night Watch remains in its original location among 8,000 objects in its 80 rooms. The central Gallery of Honour, containing works by Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch, has had a century of whitewash removed and its original late 19th-century frescos restored and reinstated.

Elsewhere, canvases are displayed alongside furniture of the same period, white-marble busts illuminated dramatically against dark charcoal walls. In the special collections section, small items have been gathered to form art installations – a wall of intricate metal keys, for example, is displayed opposite a vitrine full of locked boxes; an entire fleet of miniature wooden ships sails alongside a row of model lighthouses.

Meanwhile Project 1012, named after the red-light district’s postcode, aims to clean up the neighbourhood. The initiative began in 2007 and plans the closure of 200 out of 480 window brothels, and 26 out of 76 cannabis coffee houses; there are also plans to turn the sleazy Damrak – the main street into town from Centraal railway station – into a “red carpet” of welcome to the city, with “upmarket shopping, fashion and cuisine”. Right-wing politicians called for tourists to be banned entirely from the coffee shops, a step too far for the municipality of Amsterdam, which has just won an exemption to the weed law. But it has negotiated a €25m deal to buy 18 brothels and gambling dens from their owners and put them to new uses, following the 2008 experiments Red Light Fashion and Red Light Design in which young Dutch designers were allowed to live and work rent free for a year in former brothels and use their windows for showcases. Since then, a former gambling house has been transformed into the Mata Hari bar, and a micro-brewery, deli, florist and homewares stores have also opened nearby.

The poster project for Project 1012 is Anna, a fine-dining restaurant carved out of an old gallery and printworks by former club owner Michiel Kleiss. “You don’t need much critical mass around here,” Kleiss tells me. “If you are doing something classy, it immediately works.”

The Oude Kerk has been known as Amsterdam’s living room throughout its history, and these days it is also used as a concert hall and exhibition space as part of its restoration. Across the square, Orpheu de Jong runs Red Light Radio and has a recording studio in the window. A few doors down his sister Afaina, a former architect, has opened the Ultra de la Rue gallery. Both were brought up only a few minutes from the red-light district but say they didn’t set foot in it until they were adults. “It’s a good thing for the area,” says Afaina, but both she and Orpheu are wary of the area losing its edge entirely.

Stand in front of the Rijksmuseum’s charcoal-painted walls and look again at those Golden Age pictures of church interiors and you will find depictions of dogs cavorting, gallants chatting up maids and market stalls trading within the house of God. There will always be many shades of grey in Amsterdam.

Read original article here.

Friday 12 April 2013

The number of reports of possible human trafficking incidents rose 40% last year to 1,711, according to the body charged with collating information about the crime in a new report.

The increase is largely due to police efforts – around one in four reports are now made by detectives, the Comensha organisation said.

In particular, the number of reports of women being trafficked for the sex industry were up 64% to 1,177.

One in four reports concerned a person with Dutch nationality.

©       Read the original article here.

By TOBY STERLING Associated Press

AMSTERDAM February 26, 2013 (AP)

[Shameless plug: After you read this article, come to Amsterdam and take a Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll Tour with Amsterdamsel Tours for an engaging walk through the Red Light District. Learn more about the politics, culture, and gossip behind the sex workers and coffee shops in this notorious neighbourhood from an entertaining local guide.]

Amsterdam plans to raise the minimum age for prostitutes from 18 to 21 and force brothels to close during early morning hours.

At a press conference Tuesday, mayor Eberhard van der Laan said the moves came from a decision to crack down on crime in the city’s famed Red Light District and protect sex workers — mostly women — from abuse.

Amsterdam is home to about 8,000 professional sex workers, the city estimates, half of them who operate behind windows with red velvet curtains and red lights. Van der Laan said under the new regime, all windows would be closed from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000. It has been tolerated in Amsterdam since the 1600s, when the spice trade made it one of the world’s wealthiest port cities. But the city has been tightening its rules since 2006 and shuttered a third of its brothel windows from 2007 to 2009.

Van der Laan said the city intends to introduce the new measures by July.

“We think the situation is so grave that we have to act,” he told reporters.

He said young prostitutes were particularly vulnerable because they were often groomed by pimps who force them into service when they turn 18. He said the city’s first priority was to keep women from being pushed into prostitution and its second was to help those who wish to exit the profession.

Other measures he plans to introduce include forcing all brothel owners to submit a business plan.

The Dutch tolerance of prostitution has always been a subject of debate, and after it was legalized, city officials realized that move had not served to reduce abuses. A proposed new national law would create a database of registered prostitutes, but it has never been passed by Parliament.

Dutch officials are now studying Sweden’s prostitution laws as a possible model. Swedish law criminalizes only visiting prostitutes and does not punish the prostitutes themselves.

Orignal story found here.

Original iOL News article found here

December 6 2012

IOL news dec 6 old whores
Twins Louise and Martine Fokkens, the Dutch capital’s oldest prostitutes.

Amsterdam – In a busy passage in Amsterdam’s red light district a crowd is gathering as fans jostle to have their picture taken with the city’s most famous great-grannies: Twins Louise and Martine Fokkens, the Dutch capital’s oldest prostitutes.

Decked out in matching red leather jackets and boots, red jeans and crocheted red berets, with Stars and Stripes scarves draped around their necks, the Fokkens cut a jaunty pair as they saunter down alleys with red-framed windows where semi-nude “working women” put their bodies on display to lure customers.

Locals young and old line up for a chat, while gawking tourists look on in bemused confusion.

“Look it’s the ‘ouwe hoeren’ (Dutch for old whores),” Koen Booij, 19, shouts affectionately before running up to Martine who hands him an autographed postcard advertising the sisters’ latest tell-all book about Amsterdam’s seedy-side, where the Fokkens have been working as prostitutes for the last half-a-century.

Since the early 1960s, first Louise and later Martine have been plying their trade around the infamous “Wallen” (Dutch for ‘canal banks’), the world’s best-known red light area.

Today there are an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 active sex-workers in Amsterdam – but only a fraction do business from behind the around 370 “frames” in the area, according to the city.

Now 70, the sisters shot to fame last year when a documentary – aptly titled “Ouwehoeren” and translated as “Meet the Fokkens” about their lives, played to critical acclaim at Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival.

The film was such a success that it was screened again at this year’s festival last week.

Two tell-all books – one has already been translated into English, French and other languages -about the sisters’ lives behind the red curtain followed.

A regular slot on a late-night sex-and-drugs talk show on Dutch television since October has cemented the twins’ celebrity sex-worker status.

Their second book, “Ouwehoeren op reis” (Old Whores on a Journey) has just been released. Publisher Bertram en De Leeuw told AFP that 70,000 copies of the two books have already been sold in the Netherlands, propelling them into the Dutch best-seller list.

The Fokkens sisters – both great-grandmothers several times over – say they have seen it all: in the city where prostitutes have been selling their bodies to visiting sailors and other thrill-seekers since the 15th century, very little can still shock them.

“From fathers bringing their sons for a ‘first-time experience’ to those with a more kinky streak, you get all sorts, “ Martine told AFP, sitting on the bed at the back of her “window” on the Oude Nieuwstraat, a small alleyway that lights up in neon red as soon as the sun goes down.

“We have slept with more men than you can count,” cuts in Louise, sharing a look with her sister before they both burst into laughter: “We had some great fun with the men.”

Two years ago, Louise finally hung up her stilletto boots because of arthritis – “You can’t get into those sex positions”, she says, while Martine still works once or twice a week, including Sundays, specialising in soft-core bondage for the older gentleman.

In early October, the sisters became a regular feature on a sex-and drugs talk show called “Spuiten en Slikken” (Shoot and Swallow) as agony aunts dealing with uncomfortable questions about sex.

“I saw them on TV. I think they are fantastic,” adoring fan Booij told AFP as he patiently waited to have his photo taken. “They answer the questions our parents can’t.”

“They’re the real deal,” said Jeanine, 20, a student at the University of Amsterdam who declined to give her second name, as she asked an AFP reporter to take her picture with the sisters on her mobile phone.

“They tell guys how to treat women properly,” she added.

The sisters themselves seem surprised to have so many fans, but their words on love and relationships ring true – born of their own years of experience.

Despite their jolly demeanour and portrayal in the media as two eccentric Dutch aunts who just happens to be in the sex industry, their own story of personal hardship and abuse is never far below the surface.

“We had no money. My husband told me I had to go and work ‘just for two years’,” Louise said, her face hardening slightly as she remembers. “I didn’t know what kind of work he meant. Now it’s 50 years later.”

“In the beginning it was really tough. You shut your brain down. In later years, it got better,” she added.

Rampant violence and exploitation prompted the twins to set up the first trade union for sex-workers in the area called the “Little Red Light.”

Asked whether they regretted anything about their lives, both sisters shook their heads: “We regret nothing except the fact that the red light district is changing.”

“There is no code of honour any more, passed from one generation of working girls to the next,” Louise said with a look of disgust.

“Today’s girls wear almost no clothes. They deal and do drugs. It’s about crime and money. No self-respecting prostitute does drugs,” she said.

“In the olden days the girls used to look after each other. No more. The human feeling has left the red light district,” she said. – AFP

Original article here

PETER CLUSKEY in Amsterdam


DUTCH POLICE say they have no plans to take action against the development of what amounts to an unofficial red-light district at Schiphol airport – with foreign prostitutes using cheap flights to commute to the Netherlands from other European countries, sometimes every day.


An investigation has revealed that the women, mainly from eastern Europe, fly into Schiphol for pre-arranged or unscheduled meetings with clients in the international transit area of the airport, which means they do not need to go through as many customs or security checks.


Schiphol is one of Europe’s busiest international air traffic hubs, with a throughput of 45.5 million passengers annually. The investigation found that the Netherland’s relaxed and unthreatening attitude to prostitution was the main reason this apparently unique business had developed.


Airport staff interviewed for the investigation said the women and their clients used two hotels in the transit area which offered cheap room rates for passengers who wanted to rest for a few hours or freshen up between flights.


“Some women fly in for pre-arranged meetings, but others arrive and simply focus on passengers in the international area beyond customs, waiting for connecting flights or flights that they can see have been delayed,” said one Schiphol employee who works for a major airline.


“Some of the women fly back and forth the same day, because cheap flights from Amsterdam to airports all over Europe mean they can still make a healthy profit after paying for their tickets. Most of them seem to come from eastern Europe, but certainly not all.”


Regulated prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but what is taking place in Schiphol is ad hoc, unregulated and therefore illegal, according to Dutch border police.


A police spokesman said they had no plans to intervene unless they received specific complaints, which so far had not happened.


Amsterdam Prostitutes Association – which represents a high proportion of the estimated 25,000 prostitutes working legally in the Netherlands – said it did not object to the foreign women working at Schiphol as long as there was no question of them doing so under duress, or of human trafficking, which is a big problem in the country.


“The attraction is that they can earn lots of money here, probably considerably more than in their own countries,” an association spokesperson said.


“We do have a problem if they are being forced to work there by a pimp, but if they are enterprising enough to tap this lucrative market on their own, we have no problem with it. We’re all for it. We would warn them, though, that girls working on their own are always more vulnerable.”


After the legalisation of brothels in the Netherlands on October 1st, 2000, a flamboyant businessman, Theo Heuft, attempted to open a legal, fully regulated brothel at Schiphol. His plan was to offer “food, drink and massages” to travellers using what was euphemistically promoted as a “relax service” – but there was considerable and sustained opposition from other businesses at the airport.


When his application was turned down, Mr Heuft filed a legal action against the airport authorities, but the brothel never opened.



Original DutchNews article found here.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

People wishing to use the services of a prostitute who advertises her services may have to first phone a central number to find out if she is on the official register and is over the age of 21, the Telegraaf reports on Wednesday.

The paper says justice minister Ivo Opstelten is planning to introduce the checks as part of a crack down on human trafficking in the sex industry.

If the customer fails to make the check and the prostitute is unregistered or too young, then he will have committed a criminal offence, the paper says.

No passes

The government had first considered introducing special passes for prostitutes which they would have to show clients but that was abandoned following widespread criticism and a lack of support in parliament.

The details of how the register will exactly operate still have to be worked out, but Opstelten told MPs on Tuesday it is a ‘fine system’.