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13th Feb 2018

This is why Amsterdam’s Red Light District will soon be a thing of the past

Everything you need to know

Olivia Hayes

The Red Light District is under threat.

For many of us, taking a trip to Amsterdam and strolling down the Red Light District is seen as a bit of a novelty. We don’t know the ins and outs of the operation, and while it is totally seedy, it’s also the norm in the city.

The Dutch legalised its brothel industry in the year 2000, in the aim of putting a stop to human trafficking.

However, according to the Independent, most legal brothels have shut down and many legal street prostitution zones have also closed.

In the 18 years of legalisation, it’s done quite the opposite of keeping women safe and healthy. Instead, unlicensed sex trade has boomed and the trafficking of women has risen dramatically since there is such a high demand.

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The Mail on Sunday reports that women are still threatened into stepping inside those lit-up windows, with one woman coming forward to say she was treated like a transaction in a retail store.

“We are being sold just like something in a shop. When I saw the brothels with all the girls in the windows, I cried. I cried very hard because they looked horrible, and I knew that was what was coming to me.”

The Dutch government is now trying to tackle the issue with a new law that is likely to come into effect next year.

The new law will see people who have sex with a prostitute they know – or suspect – has been trafficked, could face jail of up to four years.

Dutch MP Gert-Jan Seger said: “We legalised prostitution in 2000.

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“The red light district is a dark place. It’s chilling, it’s humiliating – it makes me cry.

“For a long time we just accepted it – there are tour guides telling naughty and funny stories about the place. But the reality is that it’s just commercialised rape.

“We are making the buyers responsible,” said Gert-Jan. “They should be prosecuted if they know or could have known that they are making use of a victim of forced prostitution.

“From a human rights perspective, De Wallen is a terrible place. I hope that this law will be a clear warning that if you cross that line you will be prosecuted, including tourists.”

The government is also looking at raising the legal age of prostitution from 18 to 21, and it is likely that the new laws will come in with force in 2019.