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.
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.”
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.