Twenty-six leading parties in Amsterdam have joined forces against the city’s plans for an Erotic Center (EC) in the Noord or Zuid districts. They’ve launched a petition hoping to torpedo the municipality’s plans for good. The city can put the money set aside for the EC toward improving conditions in the Red Light District, they suggest, the Telegraaf reports.
The coalition includes institutions affiliated with the Red Light District, business associations, residents’ associations, real estate companies, the football club AFC, the ROC Amsterdam, VNO-NCW West, and the night mayor, among others. Former sex worker Mariska Majoor and Condomerie owner Theodoor van Boven are the ambassadors for the counterforce.
“Thanks to the participation evenings of the municipality,” Van Boven told the Telegraaf. “After the announcement by the municipality in February of the arrival of an EC in Noord or Zuid, these turned out to be large network sessions time after time, wherever everyone met each other: companies and sex workers, residents and social parties.”
“The parties all have different interests to defend, but the goal appears to be the same: ensure that an EC does not move to one of the city districts and do not shift problems there by ensuring a liveable city center,” Majoor said.
Locals and businesses in Noord and Zuid are terrified of the EC’s arrival, Van Boven said. “For example, the ROC has departments in Noord and Zuid with very vulnerable teenagers. Do you want to put them in a school next to an erotic center? Many residents in those neighborhoods are also afraid of nuisance.” He stressed that nuisance doesn’t come from sex workers. “But from visitors who misbehave, especially under the influence of alcohol.”
“I sincerely believe that mayor Halsema takes the fate of sex workers to heart,” Majoor said. “But if you ask them what they want, they say that the Red Light District is a safe place to work because there is a lot of social control. In an EC, they would feel hidden away.”
The large group of stakeholders wants Amsterdam to be liveable and enjoyable for all residents. “The mayor listens to a handful of residents and says that the Red Light District should be liveable for them again, but the Red Light District has traditionally been a very diverse environment. The sex workers have been here since the 16th century. This also applies to catering and businesses. So if you want to decorate this area in the old style, everyone must have a place. I would say, just sit down a the table and don’t get up until you have a plan to guarantee everyone’s quality of life and liveability,” Majoor said.
Van Boven: “It doesn’t have to be complicated at all. There has been a safety plan for the Burgwallen Noord for a long time, which can be implemented in no time. That is full of solutions to tackle the crowds and nuisance of the Red Light District. It tackles the problem as if it were a festival site. Think of one-way traffic, time slots, and, above all, enforcement and control.”
The coalition’s petition can be signed from Thursday via a QR code on over 6,000 posters and 12 bus stops in the city. You can also sign on this link.