Fake news about home prostitution
Legal brothels closed down by the Dutch government
Yesterday the Dutch newspaper NRC came with a sensational article about home prostitution. The headline of the article was (again) disputing whether or not prostitutes work voluntarily. The article showed very much how the police works, but mostly how they think. Searching online for sex advertisements to make a fake booking with a prostitute, to 'check' if the prostitute is working voluntarily. And if they can't find anything, they just take away your passport apparently, as is written in the article, because FUCK YOU!

But besides the fact that it just show more how the police thinks, rather than what's wrong with prostitution, since in the article they don't find any victims at all, although the police constantly doubt everything. The most interesting things are the statistics mentioned in the article itself.
Part of those statistics come from the police themselves. For example they claim that 95% of the Eastern European women don't press charges. But than again, in the past 5 years there were only 45 suspected victims of trafficking in home prostitution from the European continent excluding The Netherlands itself. In short, this does not just include Eastern European prostitutes. So it's not so weird that 95% don't want to press charges if there are so few women suspected to be victims in the first place.

Another interesting statistic they mention is that according to the police in 60% of the cases they find 'wrongs'. But than again, this doesn't say anything about human trafficking, because the wrongs they speak of include not paying your taxes and children who are present in the home while the prostitute is working. But last time I checked there's no law against having your children at home while you work, also not in prostitution. So why do they call these 'wrongs', if there's nothing wrong with it? Or is it perhaps just another way to cranck up their number to 60% to make sensational claims?

But the most interesting thing about this article is the statistics used from the National Rapporteur Human Trafficking in The Netherlands. According to the article between 2011 and 2015 there would be 4100 suspected victims of human trafficking working in home prostitution. According to the article about 25% of all home prostitution. Really? That's interesting! I didn't know we knew how many prostitutes where working from their own home. Last time I checked we had no idea at all, not even the slightest. But based on this article we should assume there would be 16.400 prostitutes working from their own home? Really?

The statistics in the article are made up. Checking the numbers of the National Rapporteur it turns out there where 582 suspected victims of human trafficking in home prostitution from 2011 till 2015, and not 4100. That's a big fucking difference. In fact, it's 7 times a big as the actual number! So in that case it would be 3,5% of all the home working prostitutes, not 25%, assuming 16.400 prostitutes would be working in 5 years time in home prostitution.

It's sad to see that people will just make up numbers to make sensational claims about prostitution. And it begs the question why they would do this. But than again the article itself gives us some indication as to why this might be the case. After all, the last piece of the article is about the legislation for prostitution, which is now in the senate awaiting approval. The new legislation would allow prostitutes working from home without a license, basically allowing them to work like any other person that is self-employed. But the police fears this idea, that prostitutes can work without a license, and calls it a 'disaster'.

Ironically the police point out the fact that home prostitution without a license makes them loose sight of the prostitutes. That's true, and that's also what we warned the government for, for years already! But let's not forget why so many prostitutes these days work from their own home illegal, without a license. That's the because many cities closed down brothels all over the country, in total 46% of all the legal brothels, like for example also in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. So how are you supposed to work legal, if they close half of the places where it is legal down? That was legal, but they wanted to kick us out.

Now that they got about 50% of the prostitutes to loose their legal workplaces, prostitutes start working without a license from their own homes, because they still need a place to work. So who's fault is it really that they are loosing sight on prostitutes? The government's their own fault, because they closed 46% of the legal places down, yet make it impossible to work legal. For example, In The Hague you can't work at all from your own home. So how are these women supposed to work legal if you're not allowing them to? Maybe they should not close down so many brothels, and make it easier for prostitutes to get a license, than we wouldn't have this problem in the first place!
The Blue Light District
There's this myth that there's a Blue Light District in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. This apparently ended up one time in a travel guide once in the US, and ever since then people have been telling the fable of this 'Blue Light District' being located somewhere in Amsterdam's Red Light District. This blue light district is supposedly an area featuring only transgender sex workers, which could be identified by blue light (aka blacklight) in their windows instead of a red light.
The information from this travel guide apparently found its way to many of the tour guides that these days that walk around in the Red Light District, because many misinformed tour guides mention this. But fact is there is NO Blue Light District in Amsterdam.

So here are the facts. There's no Blue Light District, there are a couple of streets here and there where sometimes (but not always), transgender sex workers work. But since they're scattered around the Red Light District, you can't really speak of a 'Blue Light District'. Also the fact that it's called the Blue Light District is misleading. It comes from the idea that transgender sex workers would use blue lights to identify themselves as transgender sex workers, in contrast to the red lights that would be used by female sex workers. But fact is that this isn't true a all. All sex workers, both female and transgender, both blue and red lights. So the idea that a transgender sex worker can be recognized by a blue light is simply wrong, since every sex worker has blue light.

The use of blue light, or actually a blacklight as it is really called, is necessary to give some contrast to the otherwise completely red look you would get if you'd only use red lights. Otherwise everyone would look like a freaking tomato.

The misinformation that is out there, mostly coming these days from tour guides is huge. Many tour guides have no idea what they're talking about. They have no real knowledge about the area, no good information, and only based their story on what they heard from others, without verifying if it's true or not. So don't let yourself be fooled by many of these tour guides giving out wrong information, often it's only partially true or not true at all. Especially many of the big tour operators seem ignorant and uninformed. But even worse, they don't seem to care. It are also these big tour operators that lead around very big tour groups around, sometimes even up to 80(!) people, groups which are way too big for the small area that is the Red Light District with its narrow streets and alleys.

But the misinformation about this so called Blue Light District also has had a very negative side effects for the girls working behind the windows. Because potential clients have been misinformed about the use of blue lights in the area, clients often walk around for hours, searching for sex workers without a blue light, because they have been taught that a blue light means it's a transgender and not a female sex worker. This eventually leads to clients either giving up on their search for a 'female sex worker', because they can't find any, because they think every sex worker with a blue light is actually a transgender. Or they walk around for hours, and become confused as to who is transgender and who is not, making them scared to come in, because they don't know who is female and who is transgender.

Especially for the female sex workers that work in the Bloedstraat, that is often called out to be the 'Blue Light District, this is difficult. The confusion about this street comes from the fact that during the day this are is almost predominantly transgender sex workers. However, during the night behind a portion of those windows are just regular female sex workers, leaving clients confused who is female and who is not. The misinformation from the tour guides therefore often has as a consequence that many clients looking for female sex workers avoid this street, making it very difficult for the female sex workers in this street to make some good money.

Basically there are a few places where transgender sex workers can be found, and not one specific area or only in this area. The Bloedstraat during the day is pretty much all transgender, but during the night it's a mix between female and transgender sex workers. But the Barndesteeg is both during the night and the day also mostly transgender sex workers. But even a popular street such as the Stoofsteeg has some transgender sex workers, even though most people don't even know this. But also on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal during the day and night you can find transgender sex workers, although the majority are female.

With all this misinformation about who is female and who is transgender, sex workers often loose clients for no good reason other than being poorly informed. There is actually not one area with only transgender sex workers. There are streets where they sometimes are in the majority, but there's no area specifically that can be dubbed a Blue Light District. Nor is it true that only transgender sex workers use blue lights, or that you can recognize them by the use of blue lights. All sex workers use blue lights, so don't keep walking around for a sex worker without a blue light, because you'll never find it.

Dutch version


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    Romanian prostitute working in the Red Light District in Amsterdam (De Wallen), speaking out for the truth behind prostitution. Blogging about prostitution, human trafficking, forced prostitution, politics and all the myths surrounding it. Member of PROUD, the Dutch union of sex workers.