Residents and sex workers alike have opposed plans to develop a purpose-built “sex centre” in the Dutch city
Officials in Amsterdam have revealed plans to move the notorious “red light district” to an “exciting hub” in the south of the city as part of a proposal aimed at ridding the area of its bawdy image and reducing the number of tourists and crime in the area. .
Mayor Femke Halsema said on Monday that Europe Street has been identified as “The most suitable location for a new erotic center.” Halsema has long been a vocal critic of the historic red light district, the largest of which is known locally as De Valen, where sex workers stand on the canal banks, neon-lit windows waiting for clients.
“This selection will now be presented to the City Council early next year.” Halsema said in a statement, adding that the center is expected to take seven years to open.
Europa Boulevard, near Amsterdam's business district, was one of three proposed sites for the Erotic Centre, which is set to have 100 rooms for sex workers. Prostitution is legal in the Dutch constitutional capital, but only in specific places and with a permit. It remains unclear how many sex workers are in the city, but the red light district currently has about 250 active windows, according to local media reports.
“The windows of the exciting center will be located inside the building only.” The statement said. “This way we want to combat tourist tourism and keep annoying groups away.”
The move, which comes amid efforts to transform Amsterdam's image as Europe's “party capital”, has been criticized by sex workers – as well as by residents and businesses close to the proposed erotic centre.
“It's mainly about crowd control in De Valen, but that's not the sex workers' fault, so I see no reason to punish us for that.” said an unnamed prostitute, according to The Guardian in October. She added that Halsema's plans amount to… “The Great Improvement Project.”
The European Medicines Agency also opposed the move. Choosing the location makes the center close to its headquarters, where he said his employees may be exposed to danger when working late at night. Meanwhile, tens of thousands signed a petition against the transfer and called instead for increased police activity in De Valen.
Amsterdam also recently launched a “Stay Away” campaign to discourage tourism, mainly targeting British men aged 18-35.
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