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Window prostitution safest place for sex workers according to research

06/07/2018

According to research of the Dutch SOA Aids Fund and the Dutch union for sex workers PROUD, private brothels and window prostitution, like in the Red Light District of Amsterdam, are the safest forms of prostitution and experience the least violence. In total the research was conducted among 308 sex workers in all of The Netherlands.

About 97% of the sex workers in The Netherlands have experienced some form of violence in the past year. Most violence happens outside of legal prostitution, in unlicensed and therefore illegal prostitution in The Netherlands. Sex workers at massage parlors or hotels experience the most violence, and are therefore considered the most dangerous forms of prostitution in The Netherlands.

Most sex workers, about 93%, experience social-emotional violence, such as bullying, violation of privacy or stalking. A large group of 78% of the sex workers has experienced sexual violence, 60% experienced physical violence, varying from hair pulling to heavy assault. And about 58% reported financial-economic violence, which consisted mostly out of customers stealing or not paying for their services, to banks or insurance companies refusing them because of their profession.

Only 20% pressed charges with the police. The rest didn’t press charges out of fear of being discriminated, legal prosecution, violation of privacy or being evicted from their homes.Since the brothel ban was lifted in The Netherlands in 2000 prostitution is legal, but in most cities a special prostitution license is required. In recent years however legalized prostitution businesses where heavily reduced often in the name of fighting human trafficking. Amsterdam for example closed 112 windows in the Red Light District.

Much prostitution therefore disappeared into illegal prostitution, where as it turns out, the chance of violence is much higher compared to legalized prostitution forms. According to the research sex workers are being stigmatized as victims of human trafficking, causing them to be scared to be exposed as sex workers, and making them vulnerable to extortion. The stigma also has a negative impact on the willingness to press charges of violence, out of fear of not being taken serious.

The research points out that the more restrictive Dutch laws and regulations surrounding sex work, often aimed at fighting human trafficking, are often not aimed to protect sex workers, but often have the opposite effect. The only way to reduce violence against sex workers would be to make it easier for sex workers to press charges, give sex workers more labour rights and decriminalize sex work completely, according to the research.

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