Amsterdam is preparing to build an out-of-town five-storey “erotic centre” with two bars, 100 small rooms and an “erotic entertainment” venue such as a strip club as it downsizes its red-light district.
The plan for the 5,000-sq-metre building has been detailed in a document submitted to the council by mayor Femke Halsema as the city seeks to find a commercial partner for the enterprise.
In January, the council gave the green light to Halsema’s plan to shut down a significant number of the windows in the narrow alleys around the docks where Amsterdam’s red-light district can currently be found.
The mayor has said she is seeking to improve the conditions for sex workers and clean up the city’s historic centre including the area known as De Wallen, where many of the window brothels are located.
According to the Het Parool newspaper, nine possible locations are mooted for the new centre which will provide space for emergency services and those who will manage the services on offer. As part of an attempt to make sex workers feel more secure, there will be only be one way in and out of the building.
Explaining her vision last year, Halsema told the Guardian: “If you walk through the very narrow streets, you see huge crowds of tourists standing in front of the windows photographing foreign women who are vulnerable and laughing at them.
“As a woman, I cannot accept this kind of humiliation of women. I cannot accept it. It is against all women’s rights and against the idea that we want to empower sex workers.”
The document sent to the council says the new building will potentially have an entry price to avoid the “leering” tourists that flock to De Wallen.
However, the plans have not been wholly backed by the sex workers themselves. The prostitution information centre, a not for profit foundation set up by former sex worker Mariska Majoor, tweeted: “Many sex workers on De Wallen do not want to go to an erotic centre, they want to keep the windows in the red light district. Many residents too. Time and again sex workers are blamed for nuisance in the red light district that they do not cause.”