Sex Workers Skeptical About New Brothel in Amsterdam

European Regional Correspondent

In order to improve working conditions of sex workers, the Amsterdam mayor opened a brothel that is supposed to be managed by sex workers. The new brothel, called My Red Light, occupies 14 “windows” across four buildings in Amsterdam’s red light district. About 40 sex workers will be able to operate out of the premises, which are being run by a foundation called My Red Light.

While the Dutch authorities claim the success of the project, some sex workers rights activists share a different opinion.

“The whole project failed in terms of innovative sex worker rights,  but functions as propaganda to take away attention for the fact that the city council closed over 100 windows and still has 18 on the list. In the meantime police raids targeting sex workers working from their own homes (which is illegal in Amsterdam) are getting worse. So we have less and less places to work while police is acting harder against us,” said Yvette Luhrs from PROUD, who was interviewed by NSWP’s Regional Correspondent in Europe.  

As stated on the My Red Light website,

  • My Red Light is managed by people with a lot of experience in the field.
  • Rooms have been decorated by an interior designer to create an intimate ambiance.
  • In addition to the basic and luxury rooms, we have a room accessible for disabled people.
  • Profits made will be invested in initiatives for improving the position of sex workers.

The website allows its users to see the profiles of sex workers and to see who is working.

Felicia Anna, a Romanian sex worker, who works in Amsterdam and has her own blog, says that the project is not beneficial for sex workers. “There's an entire board of so called 'experts' in a 'Council of Supervision' who have the real power and control over this brothel. These people include people from aid organisations such as the SOA Aids Fund, HVO Querido, a former public prosecutor, a bar/restaurant owner and people like this.”  

According to Felicia Anna, it is not a sex worker-led brothel. “The working conditions are the same’, claims Felicia Anna, “the rental conditions aren't much better, but slightly worse at best”. According to Felicia Anna, the brothel is not well designed and it has no red lights outside, which makes it less visible for clients.

“At Red Umbrella Fund, we’re positive about the idea of having a sex worker-run brothel when that is what sex workers want, as it will give more power to sex workers, will enable more of the income to flow back to sex workers, and can contribute to community building and mobilisation efforts in the area. We do not have updates at the moment of the actual situation as it is only just now starting to open up for business and we are not aware how exactly decisions to date have been made. Best wishes from our side to all the sex workers involved and we hope it will prove to be a very positive initiative for sex workers in the Red Light District,” said Nadia van der Linde from Red Umbrella Fund.