Jakarta, CNN Indonesia —
Sex workers who live in the red light district of De Wallen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands staged a protest against the plan to move locations and limit operating hours.
In the protest that was held on Thursday (30/3), the demonstrators walked towards the city hall where they will meet the Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema. This protest was made to interrupt a board meeting discussing options for the location of the relocation of the localization.
They wore masks to hide their identities while waving red umbrellas and banners reading “Save the Red Light”.
They also carried a petition signed by 266 sex workers. The petition calls for increasing the number of police officers in De Wallen, instead of limiting operating hours and moving locations.
“The advantage of working behind a window (window worker) is that we can be seen, and we feel safer. In the erotic center, we don’t have the same feelings because we are closed in the building,” said Red Light United Chair Felicia Anna, citing CNN .
The discourse on relocating the red light district of Amsterdam has actually been around for a long time. Recently, however, this discourse has strengthened.
Local authorities said they would relocate the sex workers in De Wallen to reduce crime and disruptive tourist behavior in the city.
The government is even said to be planning to prepare a building in an area that has not been informed.
“We really don’t agree with the solution they (the authorities) are offering, which they are imposing. They are not even negotiating with sex worker organizations,” said sex worker Sabrina Sanchez, citing AFP.
Reject working hour restrictions
The atmosphere of the red light district De Wallen prostitution area, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (CNN Indonesia/Endro Priherdityo)
Not only is it a matter of relocation, the new rules that took effect since Saturday (1/4) also limit activities in the red light district of De Wallen. The new regulation requires sex workers to close their doors at 3am instead of 6am.
This was done to combat what the local government described as disturbing behavior by people visiting the area.
Anna said that reducing working hours would drastically reduce the income of sex workers. As a result, many of them are barely able to cover expenses such as room rent and taxis home.
“Most of the workers start work after 12 or one in the morning, when the bars start to close,” says Anna. With limited operating hours, continued Anna, it means they only have two hours to make money.
In line with Anna, sex worker Violet (not her real name) said that many clients come between 3-6 in the morning. This is especially true for sex workers from the transgender community.
Violet also highlighted the safety of sex workers when they return home. According to him, going home at 3 am is less safe than 6 am.
“If you make the trip home at three in the morning, especially if everything is closed, then that puts you, as a sex worker, at greater vulnerability,” Violet explains.