Sex and Prostitution – Two of Amsterdam’s Major Attractions!
Whether you’re visiting Amsterdam for its Sex and/or Drugs culture or not, you are certainly aware of the power these two have on tourism for the city!
The Red Light District is infamous globally for it’s laws on prostitution, walk down the RLD and you’ll see hundreds of windows with women wearing next to nothing, inviting anyone who glimpses at them to purchase the services they so legally and happily offer. Prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands since 2000 but was tolerated since 1413. The recent legalization was done in order to better protect the women who’s profession it was to charge for sex, after all sex trafficking is among the biggest illicit industries in the world with drugs coming in at numero uno. So it is easy to see why decriminalising the use of both prostitution and drugs, as well as the sale of them, makes sense to better protect those not only directly affected, but those who will be indirectly affected in some way.
But, with the regulations the Dutch government have placed on prostitution, any illegal activities are far and few between (I can’t factually back that up, but its common sense to think so given the stringent rules around the profession) not to mention the money taxation will bring in!
Why? Are the workers happy?
Some of you may disagree, or claim the workers have no choice or even hate their job as a prostitute, but given the fact that the average service costs €50 and lasts on average 7-10 minutes, its easy to see why this profession has roughly 20,000-25,000 workers. Business may not be constant and consistent but at €50 1/4 hour (give them time to prepare for the next customer) and workers rent a window for anywhere between €140-€160 for the night, which lets say is from 8pm-2am, so 5 hours in which to ‘work’. Given that on average, as mentioned before, a client is done in 10 minutes, and it was €50 a pop, the girl would simply need to have 3 clients to cover the cost of the window. Now, not to be brutal about this point, but unless you’re good looking it wouldn’t really be wise to become a prostitute as your chances of finding clients would be lesser than the workers around you – unless you have a USP I suppose! But back to the math, average of 4 customers per hour, for 5 hours = 20 transactions (I use ‘transaction’ because maybe a client returns for seconds?) therefore, 20 x €50 = €1000.
Now, I don’t know about you but I sure as hell wouldn’t mind earning €1000 per day/night for what I do but sadly given the profession I am currently in, there would be mass hysteria. But it is painfully easy to see why these girls would willingly work as a prostitute. Obviously, this €1k isn’t guaranteed and there are other factors to consider when becoming a prostitute such as applying for loans, starting another job and more affected the general stigma attached with the profession.
Rules and General Politeness
Now, when visiting the RLD, for purely sight seeing purposes, or to engage in the provided service there are some rules and general do’s and dont’s to be adhered to;
First and foremost – do NOT take photos/videos! Even if its for the ‘gram, snapchat or Facebook – do not do it! I was told off during a pub crawl for snapchatting our group heading out in the streets, I wasn’t intending to photograph/video any of the RLD but it’s a no no any which way you want to. Granted, the image of the two ladies exploring the RLD above was taken by me, but I was lucky I suppose, I just wouldn’t risk it. You never know if their managers are on hand and there have been reports of people having their cameras/phones broken after being caught taking photos. Not worth the risk.
Secondly, even though prostitution is a foreign concept to most cultures and the stigma attached to these women is negative – at the end of the day they are humans just like us earning their money. That’s what I say have respect for them; do not treat them as dirt or subhuman. I’ve read a few blogs and accounts of times when the workers are verbally abused, usually by drunks. You have an opinion, great – keep that shit to yourself and stop being so narrow minded. On a further note, and it’s not going to be you, the reader, who would be at risk of being this person but don’t be that arsehole that thinks he can call the shots, set the price and be in charge. It won’t happen and each of the women, as mentioned before, have an alarm button they can press and immediately have backup to deal with anyone causing issues.
If your attraction to the wonderful city of Amsterdam isn’t for the prostitution then maybe you’re there for the relaxed laws on the sale and use of marijuana. While it isn’t a clear cut as prostitution – the use of soft drugs like cannabis and magic mushrooms is a regular occurrence and sources here and there claim that cannabis generates hundreds of millions in euros in tax and is considered to be a billion dollar industry, with a gross revenue of $3.2 billion. (Figures taken from source published in 2008, see Source 5)
Coffee Shops that sell marijuana are fairly common and easy to find despite a number being shut down by the Government. They argued that a reduction is needed and during their third phase they required all Coffee Shops within 250 metres of a school entrance to be closed. This has resulted in approximately 160 coffee shops remaining in the city.
What’s Legal or Illegal?
The blur between legal and illegal lies in the supply of cannabis. It is illegal to supply cannabis to the shops, home grown or sourced elsewhere. But it is legal for the shops to sell it to customers in small amounts. Bizarre I know but the law hasn’t really been upheld or enforced for this to have much of an effect on the business. I don’t know the ins and outs of how shops stay open and ‘legal’ but it is worth saying that any shops considered to be suspicious will be dealt with. So how closely the government is watching I truly don’t know.
I would consider myself very much a pro-weed legalization guy – for starters the main way people get access to weed in the UK and various other countries where it is illegal, is through the black market and from the hands of criminals. So, making it legal would take it out of the hands of the drug lords and into the welcoming hands of the thousands of business’ willing to supply legal and taxed cannabis to users. Secondly, taxing the sale of cannabis would bring in a lot of money, and that’s all I’ll say on that matter. It simply makes sense.
Anyway, Amsterdam and it’s Coffeeshops – there are many to choose from and ones I would recommend would be any of the Bulldog shops, Baba’s – which is now relocated since the previously mentioned phasing of coffeeshops too close to schools came into effect, and Dampkring. Pop any of these names into Google maps or Facebook and you’ll find them no problem, especially Bulldog coffee shops as they are hard to miss and are located in a few different places.
Magic Mushrooms on the other hand are illegal, however many shops have circumvented this law by simply selling them under the name of ‘truffles’ – so feel free to try some truffles while you’re out visiting Amsterdam just be sure to consider how much of your day you might lose!
Amsterdam is a wonderful city; vibrant, full of culture and many sights to see. I have visited 3 times and I can guarantee you that number will continue to rise.