Julie Bindel writes at the UK 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.
That was theory. Now, 12 years later, the results are in and all too clear. Bindel writes:
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.
The legislative nomenclature has changed, but the harsh reality of the sex trade remains. Bindel explains:
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," Bindel writes. "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."
Despite all of this openminded, libertine legality, crime also persists in the sex trade: "Illegality has simply taken a new form, with an increase in trafficking, unlicensed brothels and pimping," Bindel notes. "With policing completely out of the picture, it was easier to break the laws that remained."
HT: Lynn Barton