Brothels see red over rules

2010-01-19 21:20

Amsterdam - Amsterdam's deputy mayor proposed new measures on Tuesday to help tackle forced prostitution, including restricting opening hours for brothels and raising the minimum age for prostitutes to 23 from 18.

Lodewijk Asscher, who faces re-election in March, said prostitution should be banned between 04:00 and 08:00 to complement existing efforts to fight crime, exploitation and human trafficking in Amsterdam's 800-year-old red light district.

"Only the biggest creeps and boozers are walking around at those hours," he said on Dutch radio. "Women really dread working then and sometimes the most vulnerable are used."

But the local union for prostitutes said it was against Asscher's proposal because the early morning hours are among the most lucrative for many women.

"This is not a good idea, this is the time when the prostitutes can make the most money," said Metje Blaak, a spokesperson for the Rode Draad union for prostitutes.

She said that raising the minimum legal age would lead more girls into underground, illegal brothels.

Prostitution was legalised in the Netherlands in 2000 but authorities have toughened their stance on the business in recent years to fight organised crime and clean up inner city areas.

In 2008, Amsterdam announced plans to halve the number of brothels in its red light district. The Dutch government is introducing stricter permit rules for brothels and registration requirements for prostitutes.