amsterdam red light

Red Means Stop: The Truth Behind Amsterdam’s Rosseburt

amsterdam red light

Amsterdam Red Light District photo via Shutterstock

By JJ Fox

Sex, drugs and Heineken. Amsterdam is the home of hedonism for tourists the world over. Their lax attitudes towards all things taboo have labelled this city a heaven on earth for those seeking to escape the confines of an uptight society. Above all things, Amsterdam is famed for its Rosseburt, or Red Light District as it’s more commonly known, the defining feature that makes this city unlike most others.

Coming from a damaged home and seeking a better life, Sarah Forsyth became the victim of a clever ploy to lure young British girls into the seedy underworld of sex slavery. An ad in a newspaper for nursery nurses abroad led to her a horrifying stint as a sex prisoner. Her book, “Slave Girl” contains gruesome details about her consequent drug addiction, her numerous rape attacks and her bearing witness to a real life snuff movie. Despite the harrowing details and honesty with which her story has been recounted, it has received a lot of rejection from sceptics who claim that it is a sensationalised tale designed to make sales. Many believe that the Red Light District offers young (usually Eastern European) girls who are struggling with debts a way to make quick and easy cash. Prostitution is legal and regulated in Amsterdam so how could human trafficking possibly exist? These accepted waves of thought are damaging and dangerous, proving that a serious re-education is in order.

In 2007, the UNODC named and shamed the Netherlands as a top destination for human trafficking and in 2010 the ILO stated that approximately 9000 people had been trafficked into the sex industry in Amsterdam. Recently, a video was produced by a Belgian creative agency, depicting women performing a choreographed dance behind lit up windows in the Rosseburt. Onlookers enjoying the show cheer on the women until this message appears: “every year thousands of women are promised a dance career in Western Europe. But sadly they end up here…” The catcalls quickly cease as the audience is stunned into silence.

The average Red Light District worker will service between 10-15 men per day. Every time a man has sex with a woman who has been forced into prostitution, he is raping her. This is happening every day in a city we consider to be modern, developed and progressive and it needs to stop. For centuries these women have been seen as little more than a tourist attraction, there to provide a quick thrill for a sex tourist or to be ogled at by passers-by.

It’s time we put our prejudices aside and opened our eyes to the fact that these sex workers might not have the job satisfaction we formerly believed.

ABOUT THE WRITERJJ Fox 150x150 Zero Tolerance, Toilets, Parliament and Education: Broken Promises or Life Changing Initiatives for Indias Women?

JJ is a student at the University of Warwick where she is studying English and French literature. A trip around southeast Asia was responsible for her love of Asian cuisine as well as her wanderlust. In addition to food and travelling, her passions include dance, skiing, reading and writing. To see more of her work check out her travel blog:

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