A MEGA-brothel has been slammed by Dutch prostitutes for being an “erotic prison”.
Erotisch Centrum is set to contain 100 prostitution rooms across five-storeys, two bars, and erotic entertainment venues – including a strip club.
The plans for a building solely dedicated to sex work was supposed to provide safe working conditions, but it has attracted a wealth of criticism claiming that it does the exact opposite.
In December 2023, Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema proposed that the building should be built in Zuid – an affluential district in the south of the city – but several sex workers have raised concerns about the area.
For the erotic pleasure of the one, some children will not be able to get their education
Huub Nelis, chairman of MBO College Zuid trade school
Some sex workers have decried being pushed out of the historic centre of prostitution, De Wallen, saying that other areas are prone to stigma and they could be at risk when travelling to and from work.
During a public discussion on the planning, former sex worker Mariska Majoor, said: “A prostitution window on the street is very different from one in a closed erotic centre.
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“The location is dark at night. There will be more stigma and more danger.
“I’m worried they will be waited for on the paths by people with nefarious plans.”
While another sex worker added: “Sex workers have moved from doorways to windows…and now into a segregated centre pushed to the edge of town, out of sight, out of mind.
“Keep your laws off our bodies and no erotic prisons.”
Over 40 people spoke out against the plans during the public discussion – with some even going as far as to compare the brothel to a 16th century “spinning house” that marked “fallen women”.
The European Medicines Agency, who moved to the Zuid district in 2019, have said that they are “extremely concerned” by the plans.
A spokesman for the agency said:
“EMA is very concerned that this will create safety, security and nuisance issues.
“The change of the location of the red light district is motivated by concerns of nuisance, drug-dealing, drunkenness and disorderly behaviour.
“Locating the Erotic Centre in close proximity to EMA’s building is likely to bring the same negative impacts to the adjacent area.
“(We will be taking this to the) highest appropriate political and diplomatic level to ensure a safe working environment.
“EMA’s work is essential for the protection of public health in the EU, and this should not be jeopardised by fears of staff and EU experts coming to EMA’s building.”
There will be more stigma and more danger
Mariska Majoor, former sex worker
Huub Nelis, the chairman of MBO College Zuid trade school, also raised his concerns about criminality in the area – saying that drug dealers might tempt vulnerable students into crime.
“Our students don’t just walk around up to 5pm but also in the evening,” Nelis said.
“There will be parents who will say, my child won’t go there, and that’s the only education [for trade] in Amsterdam.
“For the erotic pleasure of the one, some children will not be able to get their education.”
So far, only seven people have spoken out in favour of the plans – among them, a male sex worker called Richard Jones.
Jones believes that the mega brothel could create more space for sex workers from minority groups.
He said that these sex workers are currently working in homes, either their own or their clients, and that this poses a big safety risk.
Jones went on to argue that if they had access to a large space, tailor made for sex work, these minorities would be much safer.
He also added: “People who say they don’t want it in their neighbourhood don’t realise it is already happening…with their husbands, their friends, with them themselves.
“At the moment, your houses are our workplaces.”
Dutch councillors will vote on whether they will be going ahead on the mega-brothel in Zuid in two weeks.
It comes as part of Dutch attempts to clear their capital’s reputation.
In the last few years, authorities in Amsterdam have considered a number of measures – like banning red light district tours and British men aged 18 to 25.