Amsterdam Prostitutes: The Facts about Window Prostitution in Amsterdam
If you're like most people, you will find Amsterdam prostitutes somewhat intriguing. You might have your list of questions about prostitution in Amsterdam if you had a chance. On this page, we'll go into the most pressing questions.
The answers refer to window prostitutes in the Red Light District (RLD), by the way - for Amsterdam call girls and those working in clubs or even from home, some things are different.
"So how does the Red Light District work?"
From about noon until long after midnight, the girls stand behind red-lit glass doors, dressed in fancy underwear, looking to attract the attention of passers-by.
Men walk up and down past the windows, and if they see a girl they like, they knock on her door, she opens and they shortly negotiate what will be done, for how long, against what price. If they agree, the man enters, and door and curtain close behind him.
"Can I visit the Red Light District? Is it safe?"
The Amsterdam Red Light District is much more relaxed and laid-back than red light districts elsewhere. Especially during the evenings, many people are present - man and women, many of them tourists or just passing by. The prostitutes are used to seeing lots of tourists. It's a relative safe part of town.
Usually, there are some drug sellers and pickpockets active, and you may hear a "Psst! Cocaine?" now and then. Just ignore them, or politely decline, and they will usually leave you alone. The best place to visit is after dark, when the red lights create a special atmosphere. There are good guided tours as well.
"What about taking pictures?"
The Amsterdam prostitutes will verbally abuse you if they spot a camera, or even throw your camera in a canal. That said, some people manage to take some quick shots. There are also a few spots where you can take nice pictures without recognizable people on them. Just remember that many girls haven't told their family and friends about their vocation.
"Why do some Amsterdam prostitutes have blue lights outside instead of red?"
Ehrm… To indicate they aren't really technically women, or born as such. Sorry you had to find out this way. They are transgenders, travestites, or any other type of homo sapiens. You would be surprised what is possible in this respect.
"How many Amsterdam prostitutes are there?"
Around 1,000 prostitutes work in Amsterdam on any given day, and a few hundred of them work behind the windows in the Red Light District. The others work in clubs, brothels, for escort services or from home. Totally, the city has about 400 such windows, with the big majority of them located at the Wallen in the Red Light District.
"Is prostitution legal? Do they pay taxes?"
Yes. Both prostitutes and their clients could do their thing legally since 1811. However, the ban on brothels (i.e. entrepreneurial organization of prostitution, or pimping) was only ended in 2000. Both prostitutes and brothels pay taxes, and brothels need to have a permit.
Prostitutes even have a union (De Rode Draad), although most prostitutes won't become members for various reasons. At the same time, prostitution will probably never be seen as a regular job. Prostitutes and brothels still have problems with getting company insurances and bank loans.
"How old should prostitutes be? And their clients?"
Prostitutes must be 18 at least. Occasionally, a younger girl is detected by the police, and this is seen as a very serious matter. Clients should be 16 at least, or the prostitute is in violation (this goes for anyone over 18 who has sex with anyone under 16 in the Netherlands) but nobody is really paying attention to this, strangely.
"What kind of women are the Amsterdam prostitutes?"
They can be anything - single (often), in relationships or married, with or without children, from all social and family backgrounds. But most are below 30, the majority are non-Dutch, and the levels of education aren't too high. There have always been quite some South American women here, but the majority seems to be East European these days. The once considerable number of Thai girls has decreased a lot.
"How much does sex cost?"
Amsterdam prostitutes behind the windows typically charge 50 euros for 15-20 minutes of oral sex and intercourse (both with a condom). Either one of those is 30 euros. If you want to stay longer, or do extra things, you usually have to pay extra, though a few offer extra services at no extra charge as their unique selling point.
"What services does a prostitute offer?"
Besides intercourse, most Amsterdam prostitutes will offer oral sex on a man with a condom. Fellatio is usually possible if you pay enough. Most prostitutes refuse to kiss - they say it's too intimate. A few may offer things like Greek stuff. But all this must be negotiated in advance. All in all, it's said that window prostitution in the Red Light District is more for siimple, inexpensive quickies. If you have special wishes, be prepared to pay serious money for it, or take your business elsewhere.
"Why do the prostitutes do it?"
For most, lots of easy cash is the big motivator. Where else can a 20-year-old legally make thousands of euros a month, with no up front investment in time or money, no work experience or diplomas, and no bosses - but with the ability to set her own working hours, and lots of ways to fool the tax man?
Some researchers also point at problematic (sexual) pasts, even when prostitutes themselves often deny this. Being indebted appears sometimes to be a reason to join "the life".
On the other hand, the Dutch union of prostitutes (yes, there is one) says that especially prostitutes in clubs actually make much less than they hope or claim. The promise of lots of easy money does not always hold true, and prostitutes do not always want to see that.
"Aren't Amsterdam prostitutes just nymphos?"
Some men like to fantasize that prostitutes are sex-crazed rabbits. Well, while most of those girls like sex as most of us do, most girls don't like having sex with just about anyone, as most of us don't. (Duh.) If prostitutes did it for pleasure instead of money, they would simply go to a bar and pick up the few guys they truly find attractive. (Duh.) That's not to say that some prostitutes like their job, all things - especially the money and the absence of bosses - considered.
"Aren't they forced by circumstances?"
On the other hand, some argue that women wouldn't choose prostitution if they had another source of income. True, probably, but the same goes for many checkout girls or taxi drivers, of course. If you take the Red Light District tour run by the (former) sex workers of the PIC, they will tell you: "Don't look at these women as victims. This is their choice in a given life situation." While this goes for the majority, there have been proven cases of forced prostitution, too.
"Who are their clients?"
A recent municipal investigation suggests that more than half of the clients are foreigners (tourists, business travelers etc.). Most are between 25 and 45 and they're from all walks of life: there's no difference in income or education between them and the average population. There are almost no clients under 20. Casual observation suggest that many of the foreign clients are British. That said, older research suggests that anywhere between 15 and 25% of Dutch males have had sex with a prostitute at one point in their life. Each year, around 200,000 men (and the odd couple) visit a window prostitute in Amsterdam - this does not include clubs, home prostitution, escorts etc.
"Isn't it dangerous to work in the Red Light District?"
While most prostitutes are on their own - they are their own boss and hire a small room per day or night - many rooms have a button that, when pushed, turns on a light outside and/or an alarm somewhere. There's usually police present, and window and club owners have often relied on the Amsterdam Hell's Angels to keep the Red Light District "safe". That said, early in 2009 a window prostitute was killed while working at night, and the murderer hasn't been caught yet.
"What about pimps?"
Since the abolishment of the brothel ban in 2000, pimping as such is now legal. In a tax-legal sense, the Amsterdam prostitutes in the Red Light District are independent 'entrepeneurs', and most prostitutes strongly deny they have a pimp. They maintain it's a thing of the past.
That said, a disturbing new phenomenon is that of 'loverboys': handsome young men who target insecure and often underage girls, making them emotionally or financially dependent - or simply scaring them with violence or threats - and then pressuring them to work as prostitutes.
"Do families and friends of prostitutes know?"
Even in the Netherlands, where no less than 78% or the population say they have nothing whatsoever against paid sex, most prostitutes will hide their profession from most or all of their friends and relatives. Many of them will make up fake jobs or boyfriends to explain schedules and abundant cash.
"What about condoms and health?"
Use of condoms is not obliged by law, but you will hardly find Amsterdam prostitutes who will work without. Most women know the health details, and routinely take medical check-ups. Therefore, the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) isn't high. But not zero.
"How much is the daily rent for one window?"
On average, Amsterdam prostitutes pay around 85 euros for a small room during the day shift, and 115 for the night shift. The ownership of the windows is divided between many small landlords.
- The Amsterdam Red Light District: An introduction
- Overview of adult entertainment in the Amsterdam Red Light Area
- Introduction to Amsterdam brothels
- Famous luxury brothels in Amsterdam
- Prostitution in Amsterdam: the oldest profession
- Adult nightlife in Amsterdam explained
- The shadow side of prostitution in Amsterdam
- Non-Adult Highlights Of The Red Light District in Amsterdam
- Back from Amsterdam Prostitutes to Amsterdam Advisor