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Julie Bindel, hater of sex workers, transsexuals, gay men, men, vegetarians and women who are not middle class journalists ( and ideally lesbian ) has been hating again, this time in the Spectator.
She claims that Amsterdam is regretting its liberal attitude toward prostitution and is actively closing brothels and sweeping back on positive legislation in regard to sex work. “READ HERE”
First thing I would say is that this is not true, or at least not quite in the way our Julie presents it. Amsterdam is not the model that any sex worker I know holds up as an example of excellence. All sex workers in the UK noted that it was better than the model we have here but it is not one we are generally eager to adopt. Amsterdam has legalised licensed brothels and windows. Naturally its liberal and tolerant approach attracted both tourists and sex workers from around the world, legal and illegal. The illegal workers have over time become a problem in the eyes of the authorities. The illegal brothels and workers have created an alternative and unregulated market in competition with the legal market. The result has been an increased tension between legal markets and unregulated markets. Undoubtedly criminals have to an extent exploited this situation. Has this resulted in the creation as Julie claims of a human trafficking and sexual exploitation hub? Very unlikely.
The truth is that the usual confusion between what is an illegal worker and what is a so called trafficked and exploited worker has focused the attention of the authorities who, as we know, far too easily confuse the two with very damaging and dangerous consequences for all sex workers regardless of their status.
Add to this political hot topic the fact that the red light district is in the historic and commercially valuable and sought after historic centre and you have a confusion of interests and some aggressive lobbying by all concerned parties.
The Amsterdam authorities are as prone as any authority ever is to commercial pressure which when placed alongside lobbying from pro sex work and anti sex work groups has resulted in some confused messages which Julie Bindel has exploited in this article. Some brothels and some windows have been closed. She is also right in noting that the sex worker union is small, as most sex worker unions in the west are. Sex work carries with it huge stigma and is often transitory so not surprisingly few bother to register with any organisation, never mind a trade union. She is also correct in saying that some politicians are pushing for the registration of all sex workers and for the criminalising of clients who use the services of sex workers who are not registered. Others are pushing for an increase in the age of entry into sex work. These however are debates that are attempting to deal with issues that are symptomatic not just of sex work but of all labour. Migratory issues and rights issues about labour, legal and illegal, is an issue that is affecting the world.
What Amsterdam is not doing is attempting to follow the failed Nordic, Swedish model. What Amsterdam is doing is debating how to support the human rights of sex workers while curtailing illegal immigration and the exploitation that so often accompanies it. Amsterdam is having an adult debate which Julie Bindel is incapable of doing because of her ideological position that ALL sex work is violence against women and that all Men are pimps, traffickers and rapists.
We need a similar adult debate in this country. We need a debate that places sex workers firmly in the driving seat of any discussion and one where Julie Bindel and her cohorts of hate are understood as being that rather than spokeswomen for sex workers which they certainly are not.