How Dutch legalizing of prostitution, drugs, & euthanasia is working out

The Netherlands, that once-Calvinist land, has gone farther than just about any other country in legalizing “victimless crimes,” such as prostitution, drug use, and euthanasia.  Now that country is facing the unintended consequences, including an upsurge in organized crime, social squalor, and a  deluge of sex tourists, drug tourists, and death tourists (who only buy a one-way ticket).

From Julie Bindel,  Why even Amsterdam doesn’t want legal brothels » The Spectator:

In 2000 the Dutch government decided to make it even easier for pimps, traffickers and punters by legalising the already massive and highly visible brothel trade. Their logic was as simple as it was deceptive: to make things safer for everyone. Make it a job like any other. Once the women were liberated from the underworld, the crooks, drug dealers and people traffickers would drift away.

Twelve years on, and we can now see the results of this experiment. Rather than afford better protection for the women, it has simply increased the market. Rather than confine the brothels to a discrete (and avoidable) part of the city, the sex industry has spilt out all over Amsterdam — including on-street. Rather than be given rights in the ‘workplace’, the prostitutes have found the pimps are as brutal as ever. The government-funded union set up to protect them has been shunned by the vast majority of prostitutes, who remain too scared to complain.

Pimps, under legalisation, have been reclassified as managers and businessmen. Abuse suffered by the women is now called an ‘occupational hazard’, like a stone dropped on a builder’s toe. Sex tourism has grown faster in Amsterdam than the regular type of tourism: as the city became the brothel of Europe, women have been imported by traffickers from Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia to meet the demand. In other words, the pimps remained but became legit — violence was still prevalent but part of the job, and trafficking increased. Support for the women to leave prostitution became almost nonexistent. The innate murkiness of the job has not been washed away by legal benediction.

The Dutch government hoped to play the role of the honourable pimp, taking its share in the proceeds of prostitution through taxation. But only 5 per cent of the women registered for tax, because no one wants to be known as a whore — however legal it may be. Illegality has simply taken a new form, with an increase in trafficking, unlicensed brothels and pimping; with policing completely out of the picture, it was easier to break the laws that remained. To pimp out women from non-EU countries, desperate for a new life, remains illegal. But it’s never been easier.

Legalisation has imposed brothels on areas all over Holland, whether they want them or not. Even if a city or town opposes establishing a brothel, it must allow at least one — not doing so is contrary to the basic federal right to work. To many Dutch, legality and decency have been irreconcilably divorced. It has been a social, legal and economic failure — and the madness, finally, is coming to an end.

The brothel boom is over. A third of Amsterdam’s bordellos have been closed due to the involvement of organised criminals and drug dealers and the increase in trafficking of women. Police now acknowledge that the red-light district has mutated into a global hub for human trafficking and money laundering. The streets have been infiltrated by grooming gangs seeking out young, vulnerable girls and marketing them to men as virgins who will do whatever they are told. Many of those involved in Amsterdam’s regular tourist trade — the museums and canals — fear that their visitors are vanishing along with the city’s reputation. . . .

It took six years for the mayor to admit in public that the experiment had been a disaster, a magnet for trafficked women, drug dealers and underage girls. Zones in Rotterdam, The Hague and Heerlen have shut down in similar circumstances. The direction of travel is clear: legalisation will be repealed. Legalisation has not been emancipation. It has instead resulted in the appalling, inhuman, degrading treatment of women, because it declares the buying and selling of human flesh acceptable. And as the Dutch government reforms itself from pimp to protector, it will have time to reflect on the damage done to the women caught in this calamitous social experiment.

HT:  Rich Shipe

From Cecilia Rodriguez, Holland Targets its Drugs-and-Death Tourism in Forbes:

Two old debates are back to prominence in the Netherlands, both related to hard-to-define tourisms:  “Bad tourism,” “dark tourism“, “medical tourism” or the less contentious “new tourism.”

Labels aside, they’re highly controversial and tied to ideology: drug tourism and assisted-suicide tourism

Both forms have made international headlines recently because the Dutch conservative government wants to put an end to the former and curtail the latter, despite the vehement opposition of liberal parties, local officials, civic movements and worries over the impact such measures will have on local and national economies.

For many young Europeans,  their first parent-free trip to Amsterdam is a rite of passage,  and not for the unique architecture, beautiful canals, and rich museums, but rather to explore the internationally-renowned coffeeshops where they can buy marijuana in small amounts and smoke it legally.

But this is big business.  Of the four to five million international visitors to Amsterdam each year, according to city spokeswoman Tahira Limon, 23% say they visit a Dutch coffeeshop. The federal government wants it to stop and has implemented various measures to ensure it will.  First, last year in southern border towns including Maastricht they prohibited the sale of pot to all foreigners except for Germans and Belgians to relieve traffic congestion. Then the prohibition was extended to other regions and all visitors.  Amsterdam had been excluded because the city government is against the curbs and the coffeshops have been able to exert enough pressure to hold them off.  Until now.

If Prime Minister Mark Rutte gets his way, the resistance is pointless. Citing, among other reasons, the criminal drug industry allegedly developed around the coffeshops, next month the government plans to begin the first phase of a program to restrict coffeeshop operations, hoping that by the end of the year all drug tourism will be eliminated.

As for the other tourism on the ropes, officially only Dutch residents should receive medical assistance to commit suicide. But the law doesn’t prohibit doctors from administering euthanasia to non-residents. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia and its legislation on the right to die is considered the most liberal in the world, although it applies  only to cases of ”hopeless and unbearable” suffering. (That said, the Netherlands is not the only destination for legal euthanasia. First and foremost is Zurich, Switzerland, where hundreds of tourists, mostly British, make the journey to end their lives.)

It’s not the existence of assisted-suicide tourism that’s behind the latest controversy but, rather, the implicit danger that it could spin out of control, ‘a la coffeeshops’, thanks to two new initiatives pushed by the organization Right to Die: To make euthanasia widely available by creating  mobile teams to assist patients to die at  home, and by proposing legislation to give the right to die to everybody over 70 years old.

Conservative members of the government and various religious organizations fear that such measures could trigger a wave of euthanasia tourism. Right or not, the country’s longstanding reputation as a haven for live-and-let-live — or die-and-let-die — is under assault as never before.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • tODD

    Sorry, but this struck me as odd in the Spectator piece:

    But only 5 per cent of the women registered for tax, because no one wants to be known as a whore — however legal it may be.

    I can think of two reasons why women would be unlikely to pay the tax, both of which are more likely than the proferred suggestion.

    The first is that, surprise, people often try to avoid paying taxes. All the more so when it’s easy (it’s not like the prostitutes have the Dutch equivalent of W-2′s against which their tax filings can be checked).

    The second is that most of the prostitutes are not from the Netherlands, and so are quite unlikely to be familiar with their tax obligations.

    Of course, that second point brings into question the article’s assumption on this point. Who are these foreigners, likely detached from any real social network other than their pimps and customers, who are nonetheless ashamed to admit that they’re whores?

    Again, a minor point, but a good example of why the Spectator piece seems a bit like a screed. I blame it on the British media.

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  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    The Law of Unintended (but totally predictable) Consequences strikes again.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    There goes toaDD again, missing the point, entirely.

  • http://justanotherclaypot.blogspot.com Betsy Markman

    It is absurd to think that there’s any way to take an industry that, by its very nature, turns human beings into commodities, and make it humane.

  • Steve Bauer

    While I deem that tODD’s observations are legitimate, I hardly think that such a minor point justifies labeling the Spectator piece a “screed”.

    That, Rev. McCain, is called a “topic sentence”. You then provide examples and arguments based on what is in the Spectator article to justify your assertion. You don’t have to strain yourself too much. It might be a struggle but chaining only two or three coherent sentences woul probably suffice. Then people capable of rational thought can know that something has been written that is worth their time to consider.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    The Dutch are learning, the hard way it seems, that their forebears banned prostitution and drug use because they were not truly voluntary transactions.

    Or, put differently, I”m guessing that the pimps who participate in the enslavement of their “workers” are not exactly keen on giving the government an address where their victims may be reached in order to free them.

  • tODD

    Paul (@3), thanks as always for your valuable contributions to discussions on this blog.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    “The Netherlands, that once-Calvinist land, has gone farther than just about any other country in legalizing “victimless crimes,” such as prostitution, drug use, and euthanasia.”

    It’s tragic and sad. Reminds one of Old Testament Israel. Reminds one of Norway , that once-Lutheran land, and its rapid descent into secularism. If I recall correctly, Norway even has Lutheranism as the state church.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Very sad to see this. My wife in 1992 was over there, and she said even back then it was shocking to see how open everything was regarding drugs and sex.

    Be sure your sin will find you out.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Huh, could of sworn I saw something this morning with the Publisher of CPH’s name attached to it quoting 2 Tim. 2 or something to the effect that pastors in general should avoid such behavior as is displayed in comment #3. Funny how long those convictions last.
    Actually, tODD’s point is quite valid, and I think further highlights the condition of man portrayed in the article.
    I’m often at a loss as to how you make prostitution illegal, when fornication and adultery are not. Seems if the girl is going to give the guy her time after a couple drinks, she could be paid for her time too. But all that said, living in Italy as a young man and traveling to Germany, Holland and generally throughout out Europe, bar hopping and having a good time, it didn’t take a genius to see that laws against prostitution were at least helpful in avoiding the abuse of prostitution. If nothing else it gave police and law enforcement a reason to raid a brothel and shut the place down, to separate the women from their pimps and return them home and so forth. The tragic thing about it, is often times it would slap a criminal record on women who were nothing but victims of crime from day one, and were not willing participants no matter how much they smiled. The difference between prostitution and rape, is in prostitution you pay someone else to do all the beating for you.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    actually, having visited both the Netherlands and Norway, I was sort of surprised by some differences. Norway may be secular, but it is amazing to see how latent the Lutheranism is in the culture, of course, I didn’t care for some of the strains of pietism that were also latent in the culture.
    Of course, the Netherlands seem to have lost almost everything of their culture altogether, stored away with the Rembrandts in a museum. Haven’t been there since the mid nineties though, and I seem to remember hearing something of a resurgence happening in the late 90′s before the openly and rather flamboyant gay Pim Fortuin running on a conservative ticket was shot. So I have no idea what is happening there now except for what this article is telling me.

  • mitramarket

    While I don’t doubt the veracity of this article (because it is a case of acts and consequences), it would have been more convincing with actual statistics and quotes. This story comes off as an editorial without those very important aspects. I’m sure this wasn’t the aim of the writer, but an absence of quotes and stats makes this article look sloppy.

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith wrote:

    “The Netherlands, that once-Calvinist land, has gone farther than just about any other country in legalizing “victimless crimes,” such as prostitution, drug use, and euthanasia.”

    There is no such thing, as a “victimless crime” – in every situation, someone is going to be hurt, or harmed in some way. Sin hurts people, including physically – deep down in their souls and hearts.

    When girls are taken into prostitution, often times at a very early age, without their agreeing to it – they are the victims, they are the ones who suffer when someone uses their bodies. There are those who prostitute themselves on purpose, leaving disease that is contracted through sex, spreading the worst of STD’s, some of which cannot be cured. Those who hire these prostitutes, hurt their families, their wives, and children. Sin cannot be hidden – spouses and children might not know the details, but they see the results of relationships that are torn apart, personality changes, anger, and strife.

    “Drug use” ruins entire families. The safety within the family group causes nothing but heartache. Those under drugs often commit crimes against others, or drive when under the influence, their ability to think normally isn’t there.

    Often times no one knows when someone is going to commit suicide, and then when it happens, loved ones mourn, and feel that if “they had only known, how depressed, hopeless their loved one was, they could have helped” – that my friend makes victims of the very people, the deceased was supposed to have loved.

  • Dave

    A third of Amsterdam’s bordellos have been closed due to the involvement of organised criminals and drug dealers and the increase in trafficking of women.

    Is this a sign of progress or the opposite? Are they filtering out those involved in organized crime from the area? Is it that the problem has truly become more prevalent or merely more visible?

    The RCMP (Canada’s national police force) is on record as saying it was no longer reporting human trafficking estimates as it’d found a few years back that

    … current estimates of human trafficking in Canada were vastly diverging, intermixed with numbers of smuggled persons, and largely unreliable.

    Is the data any better here? A lot of statistics in this area are incredibly dubious if examined at anything more than a very shallow level – and one of the commenters on the Spectator piece is arguing that it’s the same sort of thing here.

    A few examples of the dubious figures often quoted on subjects of this sort: Read the Village Voice’s debunking of the most common figures you’re likely to hear for child sex trafficking in the US and the Wall Street Journal’s debunking of the crimes associated with major sporting events. There are a lot more examples out there.

  • Bettina

    Very well said Grace!!!

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Pastor McCain,

    I was a little struck to see you resort to name-calling. This is the second time I’ve seen you do it with tODD. I am now thinking that you have a very clear reason for doing it or something? tOADD – what does this mean?

    +Nathan

  • tODD

    Nathan (@15), if he has a “very clear reason” other than juvenile name-calling, it is lost on the intended recipient, I assure you. I even went over to McCain’s Facebook post (to which Bror alluded, @10) and asked him to please stop with the name-calling and either use my real name or chosen handle here (different as to capitalization). I also asked him to either engage my comments or ignore them (but his “missing the point” series of replies is of no value to anyone, as Steve noted, @5).

    Sadly, he merely deleted my comment and then banned me from his Facebook page. (He’s done this before, actually — the man does not take well to criticism; I’m not sure why I was able to leave a comment on his page this time.)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, you need to embrace the name. At least Mr Toad was rich, even though a bit crazy!

  • scottlac

    As much as I welcome the sanity that is returning to the Netherlands, I have to wonder how much of this also has to do with the much increased Muslim influence there.

  • helen

    Nathan,
    Hit’n’run name calling is so much easier than thoughtful discussion,
    and some will do anything that gets attention.
    I’m afraid the habit can only be cured by being consistently ignored.

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  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Helen,

    Yes that is true. I guess I was so surprised by Pastor McCain’s doing that that I thought I should try and put the best construction on it. After all, our Lord had a good reason for saying things like “whitewashed tombs” for example. I don’t think Luther always rose to this level of “intelligent insult”.

    But oh well – maybe the reasoning here is that since he did it so it must be OK?

    +Nathan

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  • http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl/ Anton

    As a Christian who lives in Amsterdam I am embarrassed by these kind of drive-by articles.

    This ‘article’ was written by someone who has a total disregard for facts. Instead it relies on a combination of hearsay, fantasy, and the apparent need to further a certain agenda.

    I realize your post consists for the most part of quoted material, but even then it is clear that you have not done any original research or fact checking.

    What is left is, well, akin to gossip. Not a very Christian approach.

  • tODD

    Anton (@22), assuming you’re going to stick around to have a conversation (and not, you know, do a drive-by of your own), we’d love to have your take on things.

    But all you’ve told us so far is that the articles quoted above are wrong. How? What is wrong about them? What’s your take on all this?

    It does us no good to merely know that something is wrong. If you’re going to help us learn, you have to tell us something yourself.

  • http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl/ Anton

    Got me on the ‘drive-by’, tODD — because no, I’m not sticking around for a conversation, and I’m not going to do the poster’s work for him.

    I’d love to have the luxury of limitless time and energy to try and correct these type of ‘articles’ by posting facts and figures, but I’ve got other things to do.

    Suffice it to say that the poster himself provides next to nothing in the way of original sources or verifiable statistics. He merely copies content from authors who themselves appear just a clueless on the topic as he is.

    I saw a link to this post while looking for something else entirely, and since anything to do with Amsterdam is of interest to me I stopped by. Normally I wouldn’t even comment on something like this, but I did not want to let the item pass without at least giving the online equivalent of shaking my head. Enough said.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Anton,

    That makes perfect sense to me. That said, are there any articles or books you can quickly link to that might give us another perspective?

    Thanks,
    Nathan

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Here’s a link from elsewhere. Apparently legalizing prostitution leads to higher rates of human trafficking and abuses.

    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2012/12/Legalised-prostitution-increases-human-trafficking.aspx

  • tODD

    Anton (@24), thanks for taking the time to stop by and shake your head at us.

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  • http://slavedetective.wordpress.com Slave Detective

    Greetings,
    Good discussion.

    Can I throw a topic to you?

    If The Dutch way is a good idea would we all be happy to encourage our daughters/sisters/mothers to earn their trade there?

    Would we be comfortable seeing our friends visit them in the windows.

    Human Trafficking is many times more prevalent there than Sweden.

    There are no simple answers. That is for sure. This is a very complex issue with many trap doors. Discussion is the key here!

    Lively debate is required with many points of view!

    slavedetective.wordpress.com

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