Demographics[ edit ] Extent of prostitution[ edit ] As with other countries, estimates regarding the total number of prostitutes vary. Most sources place this number between 15, and 30, An article published in in the International Encyclopedia of Sexuality claimed that the total number of prostitutes in the Netherlands was about 15, to 20, Foreign prostitutes[ edit ] In the s, the majority of foreign prostitutes were from Thailand, in the s from Latin America and the Caribbean.
No more than one third were Dutch nationals, the remainder representing 44 nationalities. She offered the police a Facebook with 80 "violent pimps", of whom only three were Dutch-born. Drug addicts, including drug tourists, were said to be numerous in the street prostitution group. Window and club prostitution were dominated by Caribbean , South-American , African , and Asian women. Prostitution occurs in various forms: It is estimated that on average some 2, prostitutes are engaged daily in this form of prostitution.
Street prostitution exists in 10 Dutch cities and involves on average some prostitutes daily. Between 3, and 4, prostitutes are employed daily in — clubs and private brothels. The extent of other forms of prostitution such as escort agencies and home-based prostitution is much more difficult to estimate. Home-based prostitution occurs in at least 17 municipalities and escort agencies exist in at least 28 municipalities. Many cities tolerated prostitution to protect chaste female citizens from rape and defilement.
There were, however, a number of conditions imposed on prostitutes and their clients. Prostitutes were not allowed to be married. Still, prostitution was considered a dishonorable profession.
Prostitutes were not expected to conform to sexual rules , and were not protected by the law. The concept of "honor" was very important in early modern Dutch society. Honor had social significance, but it also had legal ramifications.
Until the late sixteenth century honor, aside from citizenship, was the most important criterion for the stratification of society. Despite the fact that prostitution was seen as indispensable, city governments tried to separate "dishonorable" prostitution from the honorable world. Later, city governments tried to reserve certain areas of the city for prostitution. Prostitution businesses were driven to the streets and alleys near the city walls. Typical is the following decree from the city of Amsterdam in Because whores are necessary in big cities and especially in cities of commerce such as ours — indeed it is far better to have these women than not to have them — and also because the holy church tolerates whores on good grounds, for these reasons the court and sheriff of Amsterdam shall not entirely forbid the keeping of brothels.
Sexual activities were only tolerated within marriage. Church and state were not separated, and what was defined by the church as a sin was defined as a crime by the government. Prostitution and procurement were viewed as a sin and therefore prohibited.
However, during this century the city of Amsterdam started to regulate prostitution. Only the police and the bailiff and his servants could keep a brothel in the Pijl and Halsteeg currently the Damstraat.
Prostitutes who practiced their trade in other parts of the city were arrested and their clients fined. Prostitution was a lucrative trade for the bailiff's servants as well as for the city treasury. In , the city of Amsterdam left the Spanish side during the Netherlands uprising and converted from Catholicism to Calvinism. The city then stopped regulating prostitution.
Titillating activities like dancing, fairs and prostitution were sometimes outlawed. This morality did not, however, always correspond with the views and customs of the people. During the Golden seventeenth century sexuality was openly displayed in paintings and in literature. The image of the prostitute in literature was very negative. Prostitutes were portrayed as unreliable, impudent, lazy, and often ugly and dirty.
In paintings, the image of the prostitute was more positive. Brothel-scenes were an important subject and prostitutes were painted as beautiful young women. The clients, however, were portrayed as fools who allowed themselves to be deceived. In both literature and paintings the madams were portrayed as evil profiteers. The authorities could not uphold the laws against prostitution and tended to leave brothels alone if they did not cause trouble.
There was a growing middle class which tried to distinguish itself by a strong work ethic and self-control. By restrained sexual behavior, the middle class could separate itself from the 'loose' lower class as well as the indecent nobility. Rich and poor also began to separate geographically.
Prior to this period different social classes lived side by side, but they now lived in separate neighborhoods. The image of women also changed. Bourgeois women were seen by men of their class as faithful and chaste, but working-class women were viewed by middle class men as potential prostitutes. The working conditions of prostitutes were very poor. There was no proper birth control , condoms were not widely available and there were no effective cures against venereal diseases.
Prostitutes often became pregnant and, because of venereal diseases they eventually became infertile. This situation would not improve before the twentieth century. Prostitutes allowed very little sexual variation. The only sexual positions which were tolerated were the missionary position and standing upright, face to face.
Prostitutes were forced to register and were subjected to mandatory medical examinations. Registered prostitutes were handed a red card which was a sort of work permit. If they were found to be infected, their red card was taken and they were given a white card instead while they were prohibited from working and were only allowed to work when declared fit.
After the French occupation the Dutch government stopped regulating prostitution, but during several decades slowly began to regulate prostitutes again in the same style as under the French occupation. Many scientists during the nineteenth century believed that sexual abstinence for men was unhealthy. In their eyes it was unavoidable that a number of women had to sacrifice themselves to protect the rest of the women from destruction of an even more revolting kind.
The women who had to sacrifice themselves were supposed to be lower class. Prostitutes themselves, however, were still despised and portrayed as disgusting creatures. Lower-class people themselves detested prostitutes. Prostitutes stood outside society. In the beginning, this movement consisted of wealthy orthodox-Protestant Christians, but it later got support from other movements like Catholics, socialists, feminists and progressive liberals.
They attacked the idea that men could not abstain from sex. Clients were viewed as low, dirty lechers , and the clients were not the young unmarried men prostitution was meant for, but were often well-off middle-aged married men. They also attacked the mandatory medical examinations, which were deemed degrading and ineffective to stop the spread of venereal diseases. Many prostitutes lived in the brothels and were bound to the madams by debts to pay off expensive working clothes.
Prostitutes were often sold among madams, were subjected to fines, and could only leave the brothel under supervision. Medical expenses were added to their debt. Brothel keepers throughout Europe sold women among each other.
The abolitionist movement in the Netherlands was largely connected to the international abolitionist movement. The movement slowly gained more influence, and during the last decades of the nineteenth century city governments slowly started to abolish regulated prostitution.
At first, the abolitionist movement mainly targeted mandatory health checks for prostitutes, but when the movement became more successful the focus shifted towards the people who profited from prostitution. In living on the avails of prostitution and owning a brothel were prohibited by law.
Prostitution itself was not prohibited. During the s, in the wake of the sex trips to South-East Asia by Dutch men, the sex operators brought in women from Thailand and the Philippines. In the s there was a second wave from Latin America and Africa. In the s, after the fall of the Soviet Union , women came from Eastern Europe.
Foreign prostitutes are economically motivated to come to the Netherlands, and they tend to travel to engage in sex work between the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and other European societies. During the second half of the twentieth century, prostitution and brothels were condoned and tolerated by many local governments. The police only interfered when public order was at stake or in cases of human trafficking.
The reasoning behind this gedoogbeleid policy of tolerance was harm reduction , and the belief that the enforcement of the anti-prostitution laws would be counterproductive, and that the best way to protect the women was to tolerate prostitution. This genuine Dutch policy of tolerating formally illegal activities for harm reduction purposes has been and still is also applied towards illegal drugs in the Netherlands. The Red Thread de Rode Draad is a support and advocacy association for prostitutes that was founded in and works for the legitimization and against the stigmatization of prostitutes.
Prostitution was defined as a legal profession in January Brothel prohibition made it difficult to set rules for the sex industry. During the eighties many municipalities urged the national government to lift the ban on brothels. In minister Korthals Altes had presented an amendment to the law on prostitution. It took until 1 October for brothels to leave the half-legal status of being tolerated and to become fully legal and licensed businesses. Prostitutes may work as regular employees, though the vast majority work as independent contractors.
The Dutch union FNV has accepted prostitutes as members since that time. In the s, Dutch attitudes supported the legalization of prostitution: Schaapman had once been a prostitute and was getting information about the influx of organized crime and violence into the business.