Early this year, security operatives in Nigeria, launched a crackdown on prostitutes in Abuja, which resulted in accusations and counter accusations between the police and the prostitutes that were arrested.
That action stirred my curiosity and launched me on a trip to the Red Light District in the heart of Amsterdam where Prostitution is legal and thriving.
I am sure you have heard about that phrase describing the oldest profession in the world. It is a phrase that refers to prostitution but it did not acquire that meaning universally until after World War I. The phrase began to acquire its opprobrious sense in the last decade of the nineteenth century following Rudyard Kipling‘s short story about an Indian prostitute, On the City Wall (January 1889).
The thought of what those Nigerian prostitutes allegedly went through ignited my passion into visiting the RDL and I must say that from brothels to sex shops to museums, the Amsterdam Red Light District has it all and contrary to what a lot of people might think, the Amsterdam Red Light District has a very friendly atmosphere and isn’t as dangerous as it used to be according to the tour guides around the district.
Amsterdam if you must know, prides itself, and rightly so, on its wholly liberal and tolerant attitude, embracing the fact that people may be into prostitution, soft drugs and pornography but that it is only human so instead of criminalizing everything, they enjoy the honesty of it all. This exactly greeted me as I stepped into the district.
According to www.amsterdam.info since October 2000, window prostitutes have been allowed to legally offer their services. Today, prostitutes in the Netherlands are also taxpayers. Unfortunately, discrimination is still a part of this trade as many prostitutes report that some banks refuse to grant mortgages for example. However, now as a legal profession, the government ensures that all prostitutes are able to access medical care and work in the district.
I observed while there in the district, activities there are “normal” in the day as tourists begin to gather waiting for night time when the district begins to come alive. There are people from all walks of life, circling and hovering around waiting for the windows to light up and their occupants take position to begin the hustling for the night.
It is a beauty to behold in a district where you can find a great variety of sex shops, peep shows, strip clubs, sex theaters and typical Dutch brown cafes. Furthermore, you have a few cultural activities such as the Museum of Prostitution, the Museum of Erotism or the Museum of Cannabis where people sample the products on display.
Just like abortion which is frowned upon in many parts of Africa, prostitution may not be legal but it is a huge business even if it operates underground in some parts of the world.
The legal prostitution industry in the Netherlands generates $800 Million (625 Million Euros) a year. There are about 8,000 women working as prostitutes, with 3,000 working behind a window. The tax rate for workers in the prostitution industry in 33 percent.
(Anna Holligan, “Amsterdam’s prostitutes targeted by Dutch tax officials, BBC News, March 20, 2011)
A few things you might like to know as you plan your vacation and want to visit the RDL, it is strictly forbidden to take pictures or film women behind their windows and there is a sign on every window as a reminder. The best is to keep your phone or camera in your pocket otherwise you risk being kicked out by the bouncers.
I saw pretty women, running their business in a very organized setting, they pay tax and government ensures they get medical attention from time to time. I couldnt stop watching tourists like me and it was tought thinking about what every one had in mind. The men and women all came there for one reason – To Experience Amsterdam’s Red Light District and i think you should too.
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