On the 30th January, Wonda Women collaborated (again) with the wonderful Prostitute Information Centre and went on a tour of the Red Light District!
At Wonda Woman, we stand for intersectional feminism, which means it is our mission to raise up the voices that have been sidelined throughout the feminist movement. PIC are an amazing organisation that aims to give people a better understanding of what sex work is, and most importantly to remove the stigmatisation of sex work.
The PIC team welcomed us into their centre and spoke to us about their own experiences, as well as more generally about sex work in The Netherlands. We then took a (very wet) walk around the Red Light Disctrict, and heard about the history of the area and the profession. Throughout our discussion, it became clear that there was a lot of ‘myth busting’ to do! The media and public perceptions circulate unclear or wrong information about how the sex industry works, and this has real life harmful implications for sex workers lives.
· First of all, it’s important to remember we are all consumers of sex work. By simply watching a porn video on the internet, we are consuming sex work. Keep this in your head when you think about sex work in the future!
Sex Workers lives are characterised by stigma.
Some people have a perception of sex workers as vulnerable people, coerced or damaged in some way; but a lot of people find it very empowering. You make your own rules, and you’re completely in charge. The windows give you a safe negociation space and visibility. Visibility makes you safer. However, working in the window is not for everyone, and theres many other forms of sex work you can engage in.
Sex work is work. Human Trafficking is a crime. There’s a difference. Read that again. Often, people (especially the media) concentrate on human trafficking, but the two should not be confused.
Despite being a ‘legal’ profession in the Netherlands (and paying tax)- policies make it very difficult to be completely transparent in their work. All sex workers are registered as independent entrepreneurs with the city, but not always as sex workers. Because such data is public property and anyone can gain access to it, sex workers have to be cautious about how they register themselves. However, there is a draft bill (WRS) which will force sex workers to be registered, and criminalise not just the unlicensed sex workers, but anyone who takes money from them (their landlord, their accountant, bodyguards, cleaners). The fines and punishments are disproportionately high. This is dangerous because there are some sex workers who cannot can a license, and in this case, they will be criminalised, and have little legal protection.
Finally: You wouldn’t ask your hairdresser that, so why ask a sex worker? Sex work is a job just like any other. You don’t have to love your job 100% of the time for it to be legitimate work.
We would like to thank everyone for coming and for the thoughtful discussion, and, of course, a huge thank you to the Prostitute Information Centre. Keep doing what you’re doing, we support you all the way!