How It Works - in Amsterdam / Red Light District / Information & History

How It Works


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Sex workers in Amsterdam tend to ply their trade through three main areas, Private Clubs, Escort Services, and probably the best know of all The Windows, the latter term describing the rooms, lit with red and ultraviolet light, containing a bed and wash basin, and with a "window" onto the street, in which the girl (or transexual) poses to attract clients. These windows can be found in the three main Red Light areas of Amsterdam: 1. De Wal (which is the main area between the Warmoesstraat and Nieuwemarkt), 2. a smaller area between the Spuistraat and the Singel near to Central Station, and 3. along the Ruysdaelkade in Amsterdam's Pijp district near to the Albert Cuyp Market. The usual deal on offer is 15 minutes of sex for 50, although transexuals, and S&M practitioners may charge more. Negotiable amounts of between 150 and 300 per hour are available depending on the client's requirements. The sex workers in these windows are on the whole legally registered in the Nederlands, and undergo regular health and documentation checks. In principal the workers are entitled to the same protection from violence and abuse as any factory, office, or shop worker, although in practice it is still a dangerous occupation with many workers being robbed, assaulted, and even murdered in their work place. It would be a fantasy to believe that the majority of these workers get rich quick by lying on their backs having sex. The truth is that for most the work is harsh, unpleasant, and dangerous, and in many cases less than financially rewarding. The rent they pay to use one of the rooms with a window is usually around 140 per night (or day), and so three clients must be serviced at the basic rate before the worker can even afford a sandwich. To secure a regular room a worker usually has to work four to seven nights/days a week thus paying 560 - 980 per week to the office who owns and rents out the rooms. On top of this they are now expected to pay income tax upon an estimated, unverifiable income. It has even been suggested that it would be possible to judge the number of clients taken by counting the used condoms in the waste bin, although what happens when a worker uses more than one condom per client, a regular occurrence, I have no idea. The traditional Dutch pragmatism has brought about a very sensible situation whereby sex workers are allowed the same rights as any other worker in the society, and this should be applauded. Essentially this situation should get rid of one of the lowest and most parasitic forms of life, The Pimp. Unfortunately the arbitrary nature of their taxation, and the ludicrously high rents charged for the tiny, grubby rooms, leaves me wondering whether the Pimp too has not become institutionalised.
Although there are no doubt extremely professional workers in the sex business who are capable of screwing the absolute maximum wage from their trade, the majority appear to be from countries outside of the Nederlands, and are working out of necessity rather than ambition in order to feed, house, clothe, and educate their families and children. For the clients the Red Light is the place they go to get their kicks, and live out their fantasies or perversions. For the owners of the property it is an extremely lucrative business. But for the majority of the workers, the women, men, and transexuals, it's a harsh, dangerous, and traumatic business, often bringing little more than a basic wage, and many physical and psychological problems.