Sunday, December 07, 2008

putting out the red lights

There was a time when I was younger when I was more inclined to buy into the argument that the legalization of prostitution would result in a series of less societal ills. Less woman victims, less pimps, less STDS, less sexual predators, less crime overall and then I grew-up.

Although, even after all these years, I still find I cannot get the outrage meter to do more give a limp half-hearted wabble when confronted by the private arrangement of two consenting adults if I am not a direct party to said arrangements. However, observing the ‘working girl’ world happen outside my front door for the last 10 plus years, I have come to view the whole business very dimly and no longer think of it as just a ‘benign’ kind of shabby business arrangement. And it appears, the Dutch, for all their flaunted liberalism and legalization of this, that, and whatever - are slowly coming around to my point of view - if this BBC report is accurate.
Dutch authorities have revealed details of their plans to clean up Amsterdam's famous red light district. They say they will close half the city's brothels, sex shops and marijuana cafes in a bid to drive organised crime from the city centre.

Council officials gave the sex industry a warning a year ago that they were going to close some brothels. The deputy mayor of Amsterdam says the plans will stop the city being a "free zone" for criminals.

Last year the city said it wanted to close one-third of the red light district's brothels, where scantily-clad prostitutes display themselves in shop windows. But the new measures aim to reduce the number of sex "windows" from 482 to 243, a council spokesman said. Amsterdam also wants to close half of the 76 marijuana shops in the city centre. The city council says that some other businesses are also related to the decay of the city centre, including peep shows, sex shows, mini-supermarkets, phone and souvenir shops, and they will also be shut down.

It says there are indications that some red light businesses serve as a cover for organised crime, including drugs and the trafficking of women. "Money laundering, extortion and human trafficking are things you do not see on the surface but they are hurting people and the city. We want to fight this," said Deputy Mayor Lodewijk Asscher. (…)Critics say the crackdown in Amsterdam is the latest example of a hardening of the traditional liberal Dutch approach to social issues including prostitution and soft drug use. But Mr Asscher said that the changes would be more in line with Amsterdam's image as a "tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals".

Legalize prostitution acting as a beard for organized crime, drugs, money laundrying, trafficking in human slaves…you don’t say. Now who would have seen that coming?

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