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In what would be the most radical revamp of the sex trade there since the Dutch legalised prostitution nearly two decades ago, Femke Halsema suggested stopping the practice of sex workers standing on display in window-fronted rooms entirely.
She said changes were needed because of social shifts including the rise of human trafficking and an increase in the number of tourists visiting the district and using their phones to take and post pictures of the women.
Four main scenarios are under consideration: ending street window displays, stepping up the licensing of window workers, reducing the number of city-centre brothels, and closing them down altogether and moving them elsewhere. The options will be presented to residents and businesses at town hall meetings this month before one is chosen and put to a vote in the city council later this year.
Past efforts to control the red-light district have been opposed by sex workers and businesses involved in the trade. Criminalising prostitution has been done in the United States, which I think makes women extra vulnerable. She said many women prefer to work from behind windows, where conditions are sanitary and they can make eye contact with customers. But she said it was true that sex workers had problems with unguided party groups and disrespectful behaviour.
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