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Dutch Brothel ban 1911 - The Red Light District Amsterdam Guide - discover the secrets!
This is the book you should read before you visit the Red Light District!

Dutch Brothel ban 1911

Date: 3. jul 2018.

Many tourists opt to go to Amsterdam tour because of legalized prostitution and tolerance policy on soft drugs which are a kind of a tradition in this centuries old harbor city. The Dutch society had an ambivalent relationship towards the exploitation of prostitution in the past century. There were periods of tolerance and the periods of strict legal prohibition and crack down. Prostitution itself was never actually prohibited in the Netherlands. When the Netherlands was under French rule in the nineteenth century, the government had legalized the brothels in order to prevent the spreading of venereal diseases among soldiers. The brothels were placed under intensive surveillance and the prostitutes had an obligation to check with a doctor every two weeks.

Calvinist advocates against the exploitation of prostitutes dominated the public debate at the end of 19th and the beginning of the 20th century which were saying that the government should not tolerate these “immoral” practices. They believed that the Dutch have to learn “to lead a modest and austere life”. They were against human trafficking, exploitation and abuse in the prostitution business. The ban on brothels had started in 1911 with the intent to punish exploiters, not the prostitutes, and the prostitution remained legal.

This law proved ineffective at preventing proliferating criminal activities related to the sex industry. Human trafficking, forced prostitution, underage prostitution and the power of organized crime began to increase because the prostitutes no longer enjoyed the protections that come with working in the legal industry. The disjointed culture of underground prostitution (and exploitation) has developed over time.

In 1997, the Ministry of justice declared a need to develop a new prostitution law that would legalize the prostitution sector. In 2000, the ban on brothels was lifted and the new law was implemented in the Penal code (Article 250a) and by giving the local government the opportunity to implement a system in which the brothel owners could get a license for their work, under the strict conditions (Local Government Act- article 115a). It was a way of treating the prostitution like any other legal market sector.

The lifting of the brothel ban was accompanied by a strengthening of punishments for those who engage in illegal prostitution-related activities. Article 250a of the Dutch Penal Code has five provisions to punish: 1. brothel owners and accomplices who force people into prostitution; 2. those who traffic people for the purpose of forced prostitution; 3. those who induce minors into prostitution; 4. those who (either as a client or pimp) hire prostitutes who are forced into the act; 5. those (either as a client or pimp) who hire minors for sex acts.

One of the desired legal effects of this article is the clarification of the distinction between legal and illegal prostitution. Legal prostitution is fundamentally characterized by voluntary acts of consensual sexual activities between or among adults. At the same time, the intention of the law was to combat and punish the exploitation of involuntary prostitutes and minors. Positively, the pragmatic aim of making the sex industry more transparent empowers law enforcement to apply legal protections to sex workers and to gain relevant information for the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking. Article 250a also made them employed persons. In joining the Dutch work force, sex workers became responsible for paying taxes and reporting income.