The Red Light District- Another chart-topping tourist attraction
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One of the most talked-about places amongst the tourists is Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Being an Indian woman, I am not happy with the fact of legal prostitution, the cultural gap I guess! The setup of the prostitution windows in Amsterdam’s Red Light District gives me a very uncomfortable feeling, yet I wanted to explore the lives in the so-called sex capital of Europe. The law in the Netherlands happens to regulate prostitution and aims at protecting minors so as to eliminate forced prostitution. Some intel about the area made me aware that the sex workers are required to obtain a license from the municipality to conduct sex business. They need to certify that they have fulfilled the legal requirements to operate. I was pretty surprised that this needs paperwork too.
Walking through the Red Light District, I noticed that there are a couple of streets, one after another lined with windows with a specific unique number occupied by women of every age, ethnicity, and body. These women stood inside the glass cubicles lit by pink and red bulbs. While I looked around, all-glass cubicles appeared quite similar to each other. In every cubicle I noticed a woman scantily clad, making erotic gestures posing for viewers with one hand pressed against the pane of glass, the other hand trying to call upon its clients.
I saw men moving with cameras clicking pictures of the women in the glass panes breaching privacy. To me it looked like, they are trying to ridicule them. Some looked like gazing at them with hungry eyes as if doing window shopping. On the other hand, I also saw people who were unperturbed with their presence on the street and they were busy standing, sitting, chatting with friends or on cellphones, or just waiting for the trams or buses totally ignoring they existed. Maybe it was a regular affair for them to see this. So, it made no impact on them.
Interestingly, strolling through the internal dingy roads exploring reality, I met a woman at a coffee shop who started telling me about her growing interest in being a sex worker.
She was not ashamed of it as she wanted to enter the industry to support her family. She hated the fact that the passerby made pictures and videos of the women behind the glass cubicles, which could finally land up on the internet. This way her family could know about her profession and she never wanted to reveal it to them.
The lady had a great comfort talking about herself like this, which was quite incredible to see. She was an escort earlier, but some men gave her a tough time, so she stopped temporarily. She made good money there starting from €150 an hour, yet she found being in Red light district safer, although they charge some €50 per client for 45 minutes. As she spoke, she laughed that on an average a man stayed for 7 to 10 minutes’ maximum.
She happily called herself self-employed. I experienced a different angle of life, that day. People find happiness in different ways I thought. She further remarked, “I am not having sex, I am just leasing my body for some time”. I didn’t know what to say, and I moved on. This brief meeting made me see the variety of people who live in Amsterdam. People feel so differently about love, life, happiness, jobs, and personal fulfillment.
Another interesting regulation that I came across in the Netherlands would astonish you. It is legal for the driving instructors to accept sex in return for driving lessons in case you do not have any money to pay them. The only condition that applies here is both parties need to be adults. This law actually startled me, but I would again pass it as a cultural difference. Such news today, I just read them in passing and somehow think, I don’t mind if people do that. It is their choice, their life. Maybe I’m becoming more Dutch non-interfering and unaffected. In a way, keeping an open sex policy proves well in a country. It does not affect society and helps avoid rapes and other such slurs.
Well if you are a tourist, looking to explore the Red Light District, please ensure you have good color recognition. The heads up is to let you know that in some cubicles you will also find purple or blue lights apart from red. Purple light indicates that the sex worker is a transvestite and blue color implies transgender sex workers. Hope this helps !