Half of Amsterdam's prostitute windows must be closed, the mayor has told The Times.
The Continent's most open red-light district, which sprawls over Amsterdam's historic canal district, will be reduced to two main streets under a dramatic
downsizing plan drawn up by Job Cohen, the city's mayor.
Cohen, who is also closing a fifth of the city's cannabis cafés and a number of sex clubs. He claims that he wants Amsterdam to become better known for its art, chamber music and
museums rather than as a hotspot for sex and drugs.
There are currently more than 400 of the distinctive neon-lit prostitute windows from where scantily clad women beckon passers-by and about 70 coffee shops selling ready-rolled cannabis
The tolerance, which we in Amsterdam are proud of, is not the same as indifference, said Cohen, the former Rector of Maastricht University, who resigned as the Deputy Justice Minister in Wim Kok's Labour Government to become mayor
of the city in 2001.
The prostitutes' union, the Red Thread, has accused Cohen of using a crackdown on criminal activity as an excuse to close the windows and reverse years of tolerance. It has been drawn up at the same time as the Government is
taking a tougher line on soft drugs, banning the sale of magic mushrooms and forcing the closure of all coffee shops near schools, as the Netherlands rethinks its anything-goes attitudes.
The union argues that the prostitute windows are much
safer because women can deal with clients directly without having to rely on pimps.
A former sex worker says she is very disappointed that a judge has rejected her bid to pursue a constitutional challenge against Canada's prostitution laws.
Sheryl Kiselbach told the Georgia Straight that she worked in the sex trade for 30
years. Kiselbach, a violence-prevention coordinator with the Prostitution, Alternatives, Counselling & Education Society, claimed that the laws criminalizing sex workers increase their exposure to violence.
On December 15, British Caledonia
Supreme Court justice William Ehrcke ruled that Kiselbach and a group of current and former sex workers—the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society—do not qualify for public interest standing to challenge Criminal Code
prohibitions on soliciting sex in public, keeping a common bawdy house, and transporting someone to a common bawdy house.
The impugned laws do not presently cause Ms. Kiselbach to work in unsafe conditions because she is not currently engaged
in sex work, Ehrcke wrote in his decision.
The plaintiffs applied for a judicial declaration that the laws violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees of freedom of expression, freedom of association, security of the
person, and equality. Ehrcke's ruling nullifies a six-week trial, which was scheduled to start on February 2.
The decision cited a three-part legal test to gain public-interest standing for a constitutional challenge: the litigant must
demonstrate a genuine interest in the validity of the legislation ; the matter must be a serious constitutional issue ; and there must be no other reasonable and effective way to bring the matter before the court.
upheld the Crown's contention that there are other ways to address the constitutionality of prostitution laws, noting that an active sex worker has launched a charter challenge in Ontario.
Kiselbach said that the plaintiffs are ready to continue
their fight: Me and my coworkers say, ‘We'll just open up a bawdy house, we'll get busted, and we'll challenge them.
One of the most famous symbols of prostitution in Beijing has reopened in another signal that the city's bustling vice industry has roared back to life following an Olympic crackdown.
Maggie's and another bar in Beijing's diplomatic quarter that
used to fill nightly with Chinese and foreign prostitutes reopened this week after having been closed since before the August Games.
Maggie's doors opened again on Monday, staff there said, and the bar was crowded this week with its usual
assortment of Mongolian working girls flirting with foreign men.
The two venues were among the countless casualties of a Beijing police crackdown aimed at preventing the city's rollicking sex industry from tarnishing the August Olympics.
The campaign saw hostess bars and dodgy
massage centres around the city closed for months, and many of the city's street-walkers cleared away. However, vice establishments have been reopening recently and street-walkers have been sighted again as the security grip ebbs.
Prostitutes had said during the clean-up operation that many sex workers had been driven out of Beijing by police and some of the foreign ones deported.
Basically stamped out during the puritanical Mao Zedong era, prostitution flourishes in today's more open China, with estimates of the country's sex workers ranging as high as 10 million or more.
Sex workers ply their trade with virtual
impunity in bars, massage spas, karaoke parlours and the barber shops that are found in many Beijing back alleys and which have nothing to do with haircuts.
Many prostitutes are seeing red over the planned closure of many of the brothels.
Many of the girls are from Eastern Europe while others are native Dutch.
We will fight this attack on our livelihood, we will use legal means, we have a
right to make a living and we don't want to be crowded into a reduced number of brothels or forced out remarked one working girl in the area that identified herself as Annia.
Already a number of civil rights and liberal groups are planning to
support the working girls in their fight to oppose the closures. This has to do with Bible-bashers in government a reference to the Christian Democrat party that are part of Holland's ruling coalition. This is an assault on modern values and
has nothing to do with cleaning up the city one activist commented.
We will oppose this and offer all assistance to the women affected by this regressive plan. We know the girls of De Wallen and we are aware of their inner strength. Many
people oppose this, some are also worried about Amsterdam's tourist industry going up in smoke.
Some tourists are concerned as well I've been coming here for years and if this place get's closed down it will be a pity, look at drab, boring
Britain: do you want to become like that? asks Ian, a tourist from Leeds in the UK.
A 'offee drinker with the glazed eyes said: This is an attack on the very essence of Amsterdam, and the essence of being Dutch.
Sex is free at Big Sister, which calls itself the world's biggest Internet brothel, but that is not cheap enough for some men. Customers get the cut rate in return for signing a form that allows the brothel to film their trysts.
this financial incentive, Big Sister's marketing manager, Carl Borowitz, lamented that the global financial crisis had diminished the number of sex tourists in Prague.
Sex is a steady demand, because everyone needs it, and it used to be taboo,
which made a service like ours all the more attractive, said Borowitz. But the problem today is that there is too much competition, too many free pornography sites, and people are thinking twice before making impulse purchases, including paying
Big Sister is not the only brothel suffering the effects of a battered global economy, brothel owners in Europe and the United States say belt-tightening caused by the global financial crisis is undermining a once-lucrative industry.
Egbert Krumeich, manager of Artemis, the largest brothel in Berlin, said the recession had helped dent revenue by 20% in November, usually peak season for the sex trade. In Reno, Nevada, the multi-million-dollar Mustang Ranch recently laid off
30% of its staff.
Big Sister is not struggling as much as some; its revenue is largely derived from the $48 monthly fee each of the company's 10,000 clients pay for access to its website. But Borowitz said Big Sister hoped to offset a 15 per cent
drop in revenue over the past quarter by expanding into the United States. Big Sister also produces cable TV shows that air in Italy and Britain, as well as DVDs.
In the Czech Republic, where prostitution operates in a grey zone, the sex industry
is big business, generating nearly $650 million in annual revenues, 60% of which is derived from foreign visitors, according to Mag Consulting, a tourism research company in Prague.
Dozens of cheap flights to Prague have also ensured a steady
flow of bachelor parties. In 2005, an average of 30 flights arrived in Prague every day from Britain alone, a figure analysts said has dropped by a third.
The strength of the Czech crown against the euro, lower spending power and competition from
even lower-cost sex capitals like Riga, Latvia, and Krakow, Poland, were threatening one of the country's thriving sectors, said Jaromir Beranek, director of Mag.
Many Czechs are more than happy to see Prague shrug off its reputation as one of
the world's top-20 sex destinations, but some in the hotel industry are so alarmed by the drop in tourists that they are lobbying the government to legalize the trade.
Jiri Gajdosik, manager of Le Palais, one of Prague's top hotels, argues that
regulating prostitution would help attract business by making prostitution safer: We must ensure that the city loses its bad reputation of a city where foreigners are afraid that they will be robbed.
The Czech government is considering
passing legislation by the end of this year that would require the Czech Republic's estimated 10,000 prostitutes to register with local authorities. Not everyone is enthusiastic, including the prostitutes themselves, who warn that being issued
prostitution identification cards would further stigmatize them.
Visiting illegal prostitutes will be punishable by up to six months in jail if cabinet plans to reform the law on prostitution go through.
In addition, all companies involved in the sex industry – from escort bureaus and sex theatres to massage
salons – will have to get an official licence to operate. At the moment only brothels require licences.
Local councils will also be able to say where and if sex companies can be situated.
The proposals, drawn up by home affairs minister
Guusje ter Horst and injustice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, have been circulated to police, justice ministry officials, the tax office and other interested parties for their comments.
The proposal does not include a rise in the minimum age for
prostitutes from 18 to 21, but this still may be an option, the ministers said.
The Dutch Supreme Court has decided sex shows should be thought of as theatre – at least when it comes to taxes.
The Netherlands' highest court has ruled that a peep show owner is eligible to pay sales tax at a lower rate because his services are
a form of theatre. The government argued that they were simply strip shows – and thus taxed at a higher rate.
The sex show owner, whose identity has not been released, is now expected to be repaid thousands of euros in taxes.
Prostitutes in Johannesburg are fighting to be recognised as professionals who have the same rights as other workers.
A Johannesburg branch of Sisonke, an organisation that advocates for the legalisation of prostitution, was launched in Hillbrow.
Wearing white vests with Sex workers demand rights not rescue written on them the women lamented the constant harassment by the police and discrimination from the community.
The police demand sex and assault us if we refuse.
Hospital staff refuse to treat us, said the head of the Johannesburg branch, Busi Dhlomo. He said legalising prostitution would ensure that prostitutes were protected from exploitation and change the public's negative perception of the sex trade. It
would also improve the living and working conditions of prostitutes and allow them to be respected like any other person.
Orchard Towers is a noted freelance sex worker mall venue in Singapore.
The going rate depends on negotiation skills but is in the range SG$100-SG$200 (£45-£90)
Drinks at the Ipanema Club, first bar on your right as you come up
the escalator - and THE place to be at Orchard Toward - are expensive. A Jack Daniels and coke runs you SG$15 (£7).
But none of the girls work for the bar, everyone's freelancing, so nobody ever bugs you for drinks. Good live music too.
The girls come in all shapes, colours, types, etc. A goodly number of Vietnamese and some Thai. Lots Chinese girls and of course Filipinas.
There are 4 official red light areas in Singapore but somehow Orchard Towers is not one of them.
By day Orchard Towers is a traditional shopping mall. The shops close at 7ish and make way for the bars to open from 8pm. The bars are slow starting and generally offer happy hours to get things going. A glass of beer is then about SG$5 (£2.50).
Bars will hit their peak at about 11pm.
The go-go bars are empty and sex is on sale at half price as Bangkok's infamous red light districts suffer from a blockade of the capital's airports.
It's high season, but now it's like low season, said Nan, a scantily-clad hostess at one
deserted nightspot in the Thai capital's famous Patpong area.
Although anti-government protesters have ended an eight-day siege of Bangkok's airports, the effect of Thailand's ongoing political chaos on the tourism industry is devastating.
Sex tourism is no exception. Patpong depends on foreigners to keep afloat, but as the 350,000 air travellers stranded by the airport closures rush to leave Thailand, replacements are not coming in.
Now Thailand has a problem -- no
customers, said Lam, a man who works for Nan's bar, luring tourists in off the streets by posing as a friendly Thai offering unsolicited advice on good places to go.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is not optimistic. The group expects
incoming travellers in 2009 to be half the 14.8 million the kingdom saw last year, with word of the protests causing tourists considering a trip to Thailand to book elsewhere.
The airport closures also hurt Bangkok's other entertainment options,
such as the famous ladyboy cabaret shows.
The shutdown of the airports seriously affected our business, said Nipon Boonmasuwaran, sales and marketing manager of the Calypso show in Bangkok, where flamboyantly-dressed transvestites
lip-sync and dance to famous tunes. Our guests have dropped 90% -- we have less than 50 guests in our 350-seat theatre, Nipon said. [strange, they would have had 500 guests before then]
Amsterdam authorities say they are to halve the number of brothels and marijuana shops in the city's red light district and surrounding area.
The city announced plans to clean up the area a year ago and since then 109 sex windows , from
which prostitutes attract customers, have been closed. The new measures aim to reduce the number of windows to 243 from 482 last year, a city spokesman said.
Amsterdam also wants to close half of the 76 cannabis shops in the city centre.
The deputy mayor of Amsterdam Lodewijk Asscher told Reuters:
We can still have sex and drugs but in a way that shows the city is in control.
The 800-year-old red light district needs to diversify and showcase the city's history, Asscher said: This is a nice, old part of town. We can attract
different groups of tourists. You should be able to have a beer at the old church square, watch fashion, and visit Chinatown .
A new morality restriction being put up for proposal by the European Parliament would forbid any MEP from staying at a hotel that maintains contacts with prostitutes.
The Sex Workers Interest Organisation (SIO) in Denmark has condemned the move by
the EU, saying that it stigmatizes prostitutes.
The SIO has called on all European sex workers to boycott any politician who supports the policy at next year's European Parliament elections.
One sex worker named Sue told Politiken: The
hotels are where we work. We can't do it in backyards or in cars. The proposal will force many out into the streets.
Soren Sondergaard of the People's Movement Against the EU defended his position by saying that his proposal is neither for nor
against prostitution ...BUT... that he is primarily concerned about protecting the women. If you're just a little bit internationally founded and don't just sit around fiddling with your navel, you'd know that lots of women are kept as slaves
and have no free choice in what they do. If the Sex Workers Organisation can't see that, they're a really bad union, Politiken quoted the left-wing Sondergaard as saying.
A brothel reputed to be the largest in Europe has been overwhelmed with interest after offering free entry for life to customers who have its name tattooed on their arm.
The manager of Pascha, which houses more than 120 prostitutes across its 12
stories, did not expect any takers when he put up posters advertising the tongue-in-cheek promotion.
But more than 40 men have already come forward to have the name inked onto their arm in large blue letters, and the brothel's tattoo artist is
having to work extra shifts to keep up with demand.
Men who have the tattoo will save the brothel's £4 (€5) entry fee for life and get discounts on other services like lap dances, but will still have to pay for their time with the
prostitutes who are self-employed and independent from the brothel.
Sex toys amounting to P10,000 were seized during a series of police raids in several stalls in Manila's Quiapo and Sta. Cruz districts.
The raids were in response to Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim's directive to intensify the campaign against illegal
sex toys being sold in the city, said Superintendent Romulo Sapitula, of Manila Police: My men will continue to monitor the area and we will conduct relentless operations to prevent the proliferation of the sex toys.
Among the items seized
were sex rings, sex dolls and dildos.
Police had been receiving information that sex toys, along with fake Viagra pills, are being sold openly in the areas.
Police in the Malaysian state of Perak want the state government to either stop issuing entertainment licences to errant operators or tighten the rules in a move to combat prostitution.
The only way for us to keep these activities under
control is by getting the state government to intervene. We need them to help us by revoking entertainment licences given to notorious operators or by tightening the rules and monitoring the outlets closely, Perak police chief Deputy Comm Datuk
Zulkifli Abdullah told reporters.
He also urged the state government to make it mandatory for karaoke operators to use glass windows in each of their karaoke rooms at their outlets: It would be easier for us to keep watch on what is going on
behind the walls in the rooms. There are operators who even have special cubicles to hide their guest relations officers or prostitutes during our raids.
DCP Zulkifli said that the appeal to the state government comes in the wake of the 18%
rise in arrests made on foreigners engaged in vice activities across the state this year: We arrested a total of 987 foreigners, mostly from China, some from Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries, in 305 raids conducted from January to October this