I’ve been accused of naiveté regarding the sex industry. I’ve had a hard time imagining that some women freely choose to become prostitutes. I’ve always assumed that they had few other options, that someone hurt them when they were young, or that they were supporting a drug habit, or that they were somehow forced into it. Now, after lengthy debate I am prepared to concede that some women do freely choose to enter the sex trade, but I still have questions. This article about the ‘clean-up’ in Amsterdam raises them again.
Here’s why. According to this article from the Guardian, the city of Amsterdam is concerned about the involvement of organized crime in the city’s sex and drug trades. Behind the facade of Amsterdam’s jovial party – city of sex, drugs and rock and roll image, is a sordid underbelly of “money laundering, extortion and human trafficking.” People who are making money in Amsterdam from prostitution and cannabis are furious about the ‘clean up’ and it’s no wonder. The top three most profitable industries in the world today are the arms trade, human trafficking and the drug trade. We’ve got two out of three here. The prostitutes’ union, De Rode Draad says that limiting the sex trade will cause the women to go out on the streets and into the hotels, compromising their health and safety.
So here’s my questions and I’d love someone to answer them.
1. How can anyone tell if the women in the windows are selling themselves or being sold by others?
2. Can prostitutes in Amsterdam refuse to have unsafe sex or sex acts they do not want to perform without suffering retribution?
3. Women who belong to the union receive health screenings, do the customers?
4. Am I correct in assuming that the members of De Rode Draad are women who have freely chosen to be prostitutes?
5. Does De Rode Draad look out for trafficked women and girls and try to assist them in any way?
I’m looking forward to some answers.