Legalizing is Not a Solution

There are a lot of people out there who think that the course of legalizing some sort of illegal act or institution will solve problems because of its regulation.  People have made this argument for marijuana, pornography, other types of drugs, and prostitution.  However, I would like to see all those who feel strongly about this issue to take a good, long look at what the Netherlands has done to itself. Their grand idea of legalizing prostitution has not led to greater protection for the men and women who are involved in the market, but has led to a greater demand for the market and created a lot of tolerance for illegal activity that the legal boundaries can’t keep up with trying to regulate it.  The result: skyrocketing rates of various types of prostitution, greater drug use, greater appearance of gangs and crime, greater incidents of illegal sexual activity, and the saddest part of all, a HUGE black market that sells female prisoners who are victims of international sex trafficking (http://www.sharedhope.org/files/demand_netherlands.pdf). Here are a few highlights from this report you may want to see:

“The General Ban on Brothels (Bordeelverbod) law was lifted on October 1, 2000, making prostitution and pimping legal occupations in the Netherlands with removal of each from the penal code.
Since then, Amsterdam’s Red Light District (in Dutch, de Wallen) has become a multi-million dollar business, with a yearly turnover of €83 million … Instead of curbing and deterring sex crimes, the legislation had the opposite effect, resulting in the expansion of commercial sex markets into a larger, concealed market in the hands of Albanian and Turkish organized crime groups, Moroccan pimps, and many other criminal entrepreneurs.

In response to proposals by the head of Amsterdam’s largest political party to discourage women from marketing themselves in windows, several commercial sex venues in Amsterdam’s Red Light District held an open house on February 18, 2006, and again on March 31, 2007, with the intent to “de-stigmatize” and promote the Red Light District locally. Free drinks were provided and the event was widely publicized.

Legalizing prostitution was infused with the idea of the articulate prostitute, who should get rights and better working conditions. But that image is incorrect…Two thirds of prostitutes are foreign, most often illegal and nobody is registering. The Amsterdam police has a portfolio with 76 violent pimps operating on de Wallen [Amsterdam’s red light district]. Often they stand at the corner, counting the customers of ‘his’ woman, to subsequently collect the money. It is very difficult for the police to get a case. Pimping is allowed, but exploitation and violence of course are not. But the women do not file reports or retrieve them later on.

Earnings: The girls will not reveal to whom they give the money. We know that they can make about €500 per night. Those who work for a “loverboy” cannot keep any money for themselves. Those who work for a pimp from Eastern Europe pay about 75 percent to the pimp and keep the rest … Dutch and East European prostitutes have tattoos with the names of their pimps. This makes it a bit easier for the police, but the pimps don’t realize that. The African girls start off with a debt of €40,000; if she pays that back, she is “free.” If you calculate that those 237 women all pay €125 per day for a room, and earn about €500 of which, based on evidence, little if any of it is kept by the woman or legally filed for tax purposes. That’s €625 total a day, €3125 per week, a little over €1 million in one year, just from one girl.

Recruitment and Transportation: …The average age is over 40. Most of these women have been here for many years, have their Dutch papers and work to keep up their financial needs. Some ladies are over the age of 60 … Most of [the African woman] work on fake passports. They are a closed group. They like to pray and want to have books and bibles, but will never tell their stories. East European girls are also closed and don’t dare tell their stories to the police. Most of the Dutch girls have come by way of pimps, so-called “loverboys.”

Conditions:  Most girls live in apartments owned by the traffickers with connections in Amsterdam. Most African girls live in the Bijlmermeer. As long as the girl has a pimp she is not free to come and go. You can see that with the Dutch girls, you see them walking with their “protectors”, but the Africans don’t have “protection” around them and they are afraid. The South Americans are free to come and go. But what is freedom if your whole family is relying on your income? These women are always under pressure from their family, parents, or children to provide financially. One woman told me that she resembles a terrorist because she sacrifices her life for her family.

Buyers: The clients are between the ages of 18-75, with the majority being middle-aged men. Some women have regular clients, and they know more about the client or the family situation. But for the majority they have no relationship. They say that clients buy sex so they can get something from them that they cannot get from their wives. Others say they are just crazy or lonely.”

This was especially interesting:  “In 2005, Thomas Cook Tours, a well respected tour company based in London, initiated a walking tour of the Red Light District in Amsterdam open to all ages, even children. The two hour tour promised to take tourists ‘deep into the famous red light district accompanied by a reliable and trustworthy guide, offering a fascinating insight into the oldest profession in the world!” … The tour raised a public outcry over the commoditization and exploitation of women … A British organization called The Truth About Rape led an email campaign to stop the Red Light District tour and eliminate the promotion of the Red Light District by Thomas Cook Tours. It cited the Thomas Cook Tour website language: ‘Of course, no visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a night-time visit to the famous Red Light District. One of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city, the narrow, cobbled streets of this quarter fill with hordes of tourists on weekends and holidays. All come to gawk at the surreal display of scantily clad women who pose in the purply-red glow of their black-lit shop windows. Not unlike a bizarre zoo, the Red Light District is an unmissable experience, as attested by the packs of roving young men, couples holding hands, giggling groups of women, and busloads of Japanese tourists toting cameras. Spectacle notwithstanding, real business is done here at a steady pace, and those seeking a slightly more authentic experience should head for the area on a weeknight.’ In December 2005, The Truth About Rape added to their website the announcement that their campaign against Thomas Cook Tours was successful as the company had “updated” their website as of December 12, 2005, to remove the offensive tour description. A current review of the Thomas Cook website reveals only a single mention of the Red Light District as merely a tourist attraction with no details—a far departure from the promotion of the tour before the December 2005 update. Furthermore, the tour itself seemed to be unavailable by Internet— another change since December 2005. However, other tour operators continue to promote and host the walking tours of the Red Light District. Their promotional materials clearly state, however, persons under 18 years of age are not permitted on the tour.”

From this case, it seems silly for those who claim that legalization solves a problem.  You don’t solve a problem by deciding to be okay with it.

—by GDK

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5 thoughts on “Legalizing is Not a Solution

  1. Janille says:

    I think it is interesting that the ones whom the legalization of prostitution affects most are not the ones who would have voted to legislate it. So really, it isn’t the prostitutes who are “okay” with it, it is a lazy society that doesn’t want to accept responsibility to moral decisions. If it is legalized, society can wash its hands of the consequences (they think), assuring themselves that prostitutes are “choosing” that lifestyle or career. That is a very interesting report.

  2. AML says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing such a detailed report. Wouldn’t it be nice if any complicated problem could be solved with a simple, one-dimensional solution? In our heart-felt endeavors to make a positive impact on the world, it is important to learn from situations like these.

  3. CPC says:

    I actually went to a lecture by the woman who founded Shared Hope International, and she said that legalization will be a “gift to the johns”. I couldn’t agree more.

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