‘Erotic prison’ mega brothel planned for Amsterdam is blasted by prostitutes

A planned mega brothel in Amsterdam has been blasted by local prostitutes and labeled as an ‘erotic prison’.

The five-storey building will have 100 prostitution windows as well as entertainment and erotica areas which are supposed to provide safe working conditions for prostitutes.

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema even supported the plans, suggesting the affluent district Zuid, an area in the south of the city, as a suitable location for the building in December 2023, according to local media.

But sex workers described the planned brothel as an ‘erotic prison’ during a public discussion on the planning application by Amsterdam council.

One speaker at the meeting said: ‘Sex workers have moved from doorways to windows… and now in a segregated center pushed to the edge of the city, out of sight, out of mind. Keep your laws from our bodies and no erotic prisons.’

The erotic center will reportedly feature 100 small rooms, two bars and an 'erotic entertainment venue' including a strip club (Pictured: previous plans published in 2020)

The erotic center will reportedly feature 100 small rooms, two bars and an ‘erotic entertainment venue’ including a strip club (Pictured: previous plans published in 2020)

A planned mega brothel in Amsterdam has been blasted by local prostitutes and branded an 'erotic prison' (file image of the city's red light district)

A planned mega brothel in Amsterdam has been blasted by local prostitutes and branded an ‘erotic prison’ (file image of the city’s red light district)

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema even supported the plans, suggesting the affluent district Zuid, an area in the south of the city, as a suitable location for the building in December 2023, according to local media (file image)

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema even supported the plans, suggesting the affluent district Zuid, an area in the south of the city, as a suitable location for the building in December 2023, according to local media (file image)

More than 40 people have spoken out against the proposal, with some comparing the potential mega-brothel to a 16th-century ‘turning house’ that would brand those who work there as ‘fallen women’.

Amsterdam’s red light district is in the city center in De Wallen, but sex workers were worried that building a new erotic center further out of the city would mean they would be more stigmatized.

“A prostitution window on the street is very different from one in a closed erotic center,” former sex worker Mariska Majoor said in the council meeting according to a Dutch News report.

‘The location is dark at night. There will be more stigma and more danger… I’m worried that people with nefarious plans will be waiting on the roads.’

She also expressed concern about the safety of the prostitutes who would work in the new building and said the solution was to build ‘smaller scale’ and ‘safe’ work spaces.

Local residents in the Zuid district fear that a mega-brothel will bring more crime to the area, for example by drug dealers attracted by the ‘party location’.

Other speakers described the plans as ‘megalomaniac’, an ‘ego trip’ and a bad use of funds to relocate 100 prostitution windows from the red light district elsewhere.

Only seven people spoke in favor of the proposal, including a male sex worker named Richard Jones, who said the mega-brothel would create more work space for minority sex workers.

He said those sex workers currently either work out of their own homes or will visit clients, which is a huge safety risk they have to take due to a lack of safer spaces.

Another resident who spoke positively of the plans said the mega brothel would ‘update’ the area which is now just a ‘tourist pit’.

One of the three proposed locations for the erotic center in Amsterdam according to a plan by the city council

One of the three proposed locations for the erotic center in Amsterdam according to a plan by the city council

The plans, which appeared on Moke Architecten's website in December 2020, show visitors making their way past the sex workers, caterers and live shows via spiral ramps

The plans, which appeared on Moke Architecten’s website in December 2020, show visitors making their way past the sex workers, caterers and live shows via spiral ramps

The city council is working on a new policy regarding prostitution after renewed noise complaints about misbehavior from tourists visiting the red light district in central Amsterdam.

Councilors are due to vote on the mega brothel plans in two weeks.

Amsterdam’s city council has been considering relocating legal prostitution away from its historic red-light district for years and announced three possible locations for the five-story Erotic Center in February last year.

The city eventually plans to close the centuries-old Red Light District, or De Wallen, known for the neon-lit windows in which sex workers stand while trying to attract clients.

Local residents have long complained about the quality of life in the area, which attracts large crowds of tourists.

Two are near the new headquarters of the European Medicines Agency – which moved to Amsterdam in 2019 after leaving London after Brexit – which is close to major hotels and the city’s financial district.

In a statement in March last year, the agency said it was ‘concerned’ about plans for the centre, which includes around 100 ‘work spaces’ for sex workers as well as bars and entertainment.

“The change of location of the Red Light District is motivated by concerns about nuisance, drug dealing, drunkenness and disorderly behaviour,” the EMA said in a statement.

‘Placing the Erotic Center in close proximity to EMA’s building is likely to have the same negative impact on the adjacent area.’

“EMA is very concerned that this will create safety, security and nuisance issues” for its staff and for visiting delegates, who often have to leave late at night, the regulator said in a statement.

“The change of location of the red light district is motivated by concerns about nuisance, drug dealing, drunkenness and disorderly behaviour,” he added.

‘Placing the Erotic Center in close proximity to EMA’s building is likely to have the same negative impact on the adjacent area.’

Amsterdam finally plans to close the centuries-old Red Light District, or De Wallen, known for the neon-lit windows in which sex workers stand as they try to attract clients (file photo)

Amsterdam finally plans to close the centuries-old Red Light District, or De Wallen, known for the neon-lit windows in which sex workers stand as they try to attract clients (file photo)

At the time, the EMA said it would work with the European Commission in Brussels, the EU’s executive arm, to take the matter to the ‘highest appropriate political and diplomatic level to ensure a safe working environment’.

The watchdog added that it had only learned of the proposals through local media reports and ‘would have expected to be consulted’.

Two of the three proposed locations for the large new brothel are near the EMA’s high-tech headquarters in a business district on the southern outskirts of Amsterdam.

The once-low-profile agency played a key role during the coronavirus pandemic, approving vaccines as the disease swept the world and then dealing with concerns about potential side effects.

“EMA’s work is vital to the protection of public health in the EU, and this should not be jeopardized by fears that staff and EU experts will come to the building of EMA,” it said.