If the municipality structurally ignores the interests of her citizens, then this is the only way!
Sex Work has existed in the De Wallen Neighbourhood for over 400 years. And while multiple governmental bodies and regimes have tried to manage, manipulate, or altogether eradicate sex workers from Amsterdam's city center, sex workers and sex work have endured, thrived, and resisted.
Over the last 23 years, since the lift of the brothel ban in 2000, nearly half the windows in De Wallen have been shut down. Now, the number of working windows hovers around 239. If it's up to the mayor, this number will drop to 100. For how long will there still be sex work on De Wallen?
In the past year alone, sex workers, residents, and business owners in the Red Light District have held countless demonstrations against shutting Amsterdam's infamous prostitution windows and against the displacement of workers from the center into Halsema's proposed Erotic Center. A petition against building the erotic center in Zuid was signed over 20,000 times. Inhabitants of Noord and Zuid, preferential locations for the erotic center, have protested multiple times against the municipal overreach. Sex workers have been persistent and clear in their desire to keep their windows open in the De Wallen neighbourhood—which has been built on centuries of sex worker labor and hustle.
Despite this resistance on multiple fronts, mayor Halsema keeps trying to push her plans through. Mokum Kraakt stands in solidarity with sex workers, and all residents and workers of our city who do not feel heard by the municipality, and has decided it is time for radical action.
No one wants the erotic center. The plan was made up by bureaucrats and was dead upon arrival. Sex work is still stigmatised, back-door criminalised, and pushed out of sight, even though sex work has always been visible and important for De Wallen, Amsterdam, and society as a whole. The mayor's plan is for an erotic prison, in which the state can exercise total control over who can and cannot do sex work, and who can and cannot purchase sexual services. This is again another governmental attempt to not only control sex workers, but also our right to sex and sexuality overall!
The municipality says that shutting down windows is necessary for combatting out-of-control tourism. But the Red Light District windows are a safe option for sex workers. Shutting down windows endangers sex workers by pushing workers into illegal forms of work, where exploitation and coercion are much more common. Over-tourism was never caused by sex work, and will not disappear when the windows are shut down. In fact, it is the municipality itself who is responsible for the tourism problem in the Red Light District, by having doubled down on city marketing, cosied up to landlords and hotel owners and traded in houses for sex shops. Now she offers up the results of her own failed policy as a pretense for gentrification and the stigmatisation of sex work.
Mokum Kraakt wants more sex, less Halsema. Every window they shut down, we will squat. Every step towards the erotic center we will sabotage. Today, we start with these windows: once a workplace for sex workers, until Stadsgoed NV boug ht them in order to "upgrade" them into the next waffle shop or concept store. In the meantime, they've been standing empty for two years already.
Here we will create a meeting place for sex workers to be in community and organize together. We will use the space to facilitate solidarity between key groups in the fight to keep the Red Light open and combat further development of the Erotic Center. We will look towards grassroots and collaborative solutions for the neighbourhood altogether. The problems in this neighboorhood can only be solved by the people who live and work here. No more top-down decision making. The municipality pits residents and sex workers against each other, but we will not let them divide us!
We do not accept that the mayor and the municipality force their will upon us. We do not accept that traditionally Red Light neighbourhoods are changed unrecognisably without sex workers having any say in it. We do not accept the shutting down of safe workspaces for sex workers, housing becoming unaffordable and life in the city becoming prudish. We will never yield to the power of the municipality.
Wet of geen wet, sekswerk gaat door!