Amsterdam aims to give prostitutes shared ownership in brothels

Thu Feb 5, 2015 12:49pm EST
 
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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Amsterdam is looking for an investor to buy five buildings where sex workers can work collectively in their own prostitution business, a spokesman for the city's mayor says.

Currently, prostitutes in the city work individually, renting the windows where they stand on view for prospective customers from the brothel owners.

But this system leaves women vulnerable to pimps. City authorities hope the sex workers will be safer if they can work together in a building rented and run by a business they own. HVO-Querido, a foundation that teaches sex workers business skills, will help them run their enterprise.

"We're looking for a third party, a social entrepreneur, to buy these buildings and let them to the prostitutes," said spokesman Jasper Karman, adding the city might consider letting buildings itself if no investor could be found.

"Sex workers have told us they want this," he said. "And it would provide a decent revenue for a third party."

The five buildings, in the heart of the prostitution zone, would offer 19 work spaces for about 50 prostitutes.

The red light district attracts floods of tourists, but many in the city object to the sex work image.

In recent years, the city has been buying up brothels and turning them into shops.

But critics say reducing the number of windows for rent has driven up prices, forcing sex workers onto the street or into private flats where they are more vulnerable.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)