Dutch city places ban on teenage prostitutes


Amsterdam, arguably the most sexually liberal city in western Europe, is to increase the legal age for prostitution from 18 to 21 as part of a series of new regulations aimed at reining in the sex industry and combating people-trafficking.

The radical decision was taken last night by the city council and will be written into local bylaws immediately, along with closing hours for brothels and red-light “windows” between 4am and 9am – in a bid to restore “social control”.

The city’s red-light district – known as De Wallen – is believed to turn over about €1 billion a year. However, there are concerns about the growing influence of the criminal underworld, with alleged links to global people-trafficking, money-laundering and terrorism funding.

A spokesman for the council said the increase in age was aimed at protecting the city’s 5,000-plus prostitutes rather than curbing their activities – and controversial Dutch language tests would be introduced for the same reason.

“Younger women tend to be more vulnerable,” he said. “This is part of a set of measures designed to tackle abuse in the sex industry, and strengthen the independence of prostitutes. The logic of the language tests is the same: if women get into trouble, they need to be able to communicate.”

There are to be tough regulations for sex industry bosses as well. Brothel operators will have to produce “business plans” which show how health and safety regulations, particularly in relation to working hours, are being applied to their employees, 90 per cent of whom are women.

If they are renting windows to individual prostitutes, the businesses will have to produce contracts showing the price being paid and any other conditions.

There are about 400 red-light windows in Amsterdam, which aims to reduce that number by 100 by 2017.