Residents questions Amsterdam mayor over a contentious plan, to relocate legal prostitution from the city’s famous red light district to a suburban “erotic centre.”
Hundreds of irate citizens who don’t want a “mega brothel” on their doorstep. Found themselves surprisingly on the same side as sex workers. Who want to stay in their red neon booths in a meeting hall in the city’s south.
The mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, is in the middle of the row. Clinging to a plan that few people appear to like despite being dubbed a “brothel madame” by opponents.
“It’s not possible,” one mother sobbed during the meeting in the south of Amsterdam. Near one of three sites proposed by Halsema for the 100-room erotica centre.
One elderly homeowner wears two gold balloons with the word “NO” around his neck. While others in this cycling nation carry miniature blinking red bike lights as a protest.
Meanwhile, sex workers believe they want to stay in the “Wallen” red light district. And that they are blamed for crime, alcoholism, and drug misuse in the region.
“The mayor says we’re just a tourist attraction, and people come to laugh at us,” one sex worker, identified only as Michelle, told AFP during the meeting. “That is simply not the case.”
The “erotic centre” plan has evolved into a battle for future of Amsterdam. As the city attempts to shed its “sin city” image and mitigate the impact of mass tourism while retaining its spirit.
It could be some years before any erotica centre is built. With the city of Amsterdam hoping to settle on a location by the end of 2023.
In March, hundreds of sex workers wearing masks and carrying banners reading “Save the Red Light” addressed the mayor at municipal hall, claiming that the measures would jeopardise their jobs and put them in danger.
At the discussion, the mayor was also accused of damaging the Netherlands by driving away companies.