Saturday, December 22, 2007

Look For The Union Label

Michael van der Galiën is reporting on the latest news from Amsterdam's red light district.

The Red Light District is a neighborhood in Amsterdam where women sit, barely dressed, behind windows, while trying to persuade passersby to come inside to have some good ol’ fun. Most of these women are from Eastern Europe, and, contrary to prejudice, beautiful. They wear incredibly revealing clothes; their beautiful, long legs are spread out as if they want to welcome you… OK, sorry about that, what I mean to say is: it’s the prostitute district.

Sadly for those of us who like to look at beautiful women – and even sadder for those who actually want to use their services – Amsterdam has decided to clean up the neighborhood. This week, Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen said that prostitution and drugs shouldn’t be made illegal, but that he nonetheless wants to shut down the “shops” where prostitutes are sitting behind windows. This, of course, is exactly what made the Red Light District so famous.

The reason for the decision to clean up the city is that the approach taken back in 2000 isn’t working. Back then the city (and government) decided to legalize prostitution. They hoped that this would improve the conditions under which prostitutes worked and that criminals would make less money off these women.

Sadly, the plan didn’t quite work out so well.

Cohen himself explains: “We want in part to reverse it, especially with regard to the exploitation of women in the sex industry.” He added that “[w]e have seen in the last years that women trafficking has been becoming more [prevalent], so in this respect the legalizing of the prostitution didn’t work out.”
It has been my belief for quite some time that making prostitution legal would reduce the trade to those women who actually wanted to work in it. I thought that the illegality was keeping some prostitutes from coming forward to the police about their personal situation. Sadly I was mistaken.
“The city will force escort services and ‘security’ firms for prostitutes, which usually are not registered businesses, to obtain a license, a fixed address and telephone line, and subject them to financial auditing,” Cohen told reporters.

Such a move would result in a decrease in sex tourism, however, which means that the city will earn less money, at least in the short run. As a result, some citizens oppose the plans. Prostitute unions (yes, they’ve got their own unions down here) are especially unhappy.

Red Thread (one such union) spokeswoman, Metje Blaak, told the AFP, that “[s]ome 200 jobs are threatened.” She went on to say: “The situation will not get better for the women.”

Sadly for Mrs. Blaak, cracking down on prostitution won’t make life as such more difficult for the prostitutes themselves, but for their pimps and other criminals who get rich by exploiting these women.
This is so sad. However, reality is what it is. As Michael points out.
But other cities aren’t following in Amsterdam’s footsteps. This means that sex tourists can come to one of the other cities mentioned in this article if their wives aren’t enough for them and if they are willing to spend money to have sex with a woman who had sex with approximately 500 other men.

In the end, no matter what the government does, the oldest profession will never disappear. We can push it back into the shadows, and we can limit the damage it does - directly and indirectly - to society, but we will never succeed in completely erasing it from our cities.
If only Americans could see it that way. It is difficult to help people forced to live in the shadows. They are hard to find.

And as long as I'm at it. What about the War On Drugs? The same applies.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


aog said...

The error is probably in presuming that prostitution was the most significant crime committed by the prostitute. If many of these women are also illegal immigrants (e.g., subject to deportation if found), then legalizing prostitution wouldn't have much effect. If the city is really concerned about this, they might try doing some interviews / research to see why the prostitutes haven't used the legal system to protect themselves.

LarryD said...

they might try doing some interviews / research to see why the prostitutes haven't used the legal system to protect themselves.

Perhaps because:

1. No legal occupation.

2. Emotional or drug dependancy.

3. Low self-image or dispare.

Read up on the history of China right after the Opium wars.

Societies criminalize behavor to discourage it. Not to eliminate, but to discourage down to a manageable level. Otherwise, we should just abolish the entire criminal justice system, since it fails to eliminate murder, robbery, rape, etc. It would save a lot of expense. But I wouldn't care to the in the society that results.

M. Simon said...

Criminalizing consensual behavior only raises the profits.

Since it is consensual it has low risk of detection. i.e. no one is going to go down to the cop shop and say "just banged a whore".

Where as if some one robs you the police will be at the top of your notification list.

That is how you can tell real crimes from proscribed by law behavior. Real crime are easier to detect. Saves a lot of trouble.