The Mayor of Amsterdam, femke halsemahas clashed with the residents and businessmen of the southern district of the Dutch capital, where the councilor wants to build an erotic center as an alternative to red light district, to keep prostitution, insecurity, noise and dirt away from the old town.
Halsema held a meeting with 400 residents and businessmen from amsterdam-zuid at the RAI convention center, in the same district, to “explain the plans for the erotic center”, as stated in the official invitation, but the mayor faced harsh criticism from those present, who arrived in some cases with banners and red lights as a protest against the plan to move their neighborhood into prostitution and the problems that come with it.
Several residents launched complaints and accusations at the councilor, according to the local channel AT5, which was at the meeting. “I don’t feel like living in this neighborhood anymore and letting my son go to school on the Noord-Zuid (de metor) line. I am against this, and that is why I want my voice to be heard here. This is unacceptable,” said a neighborhood resident.
Local political leaders have been focused on setting up a “erotic center” or a “prostitution hotel” as an alternative to the Red Light District since 2019, and last month, it became clear that the list of possible locations has been reduced from eight to three: “De Groene Zoom” and the “Europaboulevard”, both near the RAI in Amsterdam-Zuid, and the third option in the Docklandsplot area, in Amsterdam-Noord.
“What you don’t realize when you ask me this question is what I face every day everywhere in this city. I am not trivializing, but you have to ask me fair questions, ”said the mayor to a citizen, who had vented his anger and concerns minutes before about possible shootings and drug trafficking in his neighborhood.
Faced with criticism from the neighbors, Halsema promised that “the moment there is a nuisance, when there are drug dealers – which I don’t think will happen – there will be law enforcement”, although, after more than two hours of meeting, there was no rapprochement between the parties on the possible transfer of prostitution to the southern district of Amsterdam.
Halsema herself admitted that she had finished the meeting with the feeling that “nobody had been won over”, although she stressed that “people were not in the mood to be convinced of anything either, they really came to protest and that is all their right, but the debate continues”, since the definitive decision on the location of the controversial erotic center has not yet been made.
The plan is to build a building that has 100 positions available for sex workers, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and the facility will also have rest rooms, and a space dedicated to social services and medical care, and entertainment (erotic), catering, education, art, and cultural businesses.
In addition to the neighbors, Halsema has also clashed these weeks with the sex workers themselves, who do not agree with being transferred to the outskirts of the city, and even with the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which showed Efe his rejection of this idea and assured that he will ally with Brussels to guarantee a “safe work environment” for his staff and experts.