Prostitution was legalized in The Netherlands on 1 October 2000.
The goal of the legalization was to improve the conditions under which prostitutes have to work and to diminish the amount of illegal women (women without a residence permit) working in prostitution, which would help in the fight against the trade in women. The philosophy behind this was that when something is legal, it becomes much easier to handle and control, a point of view that is also visilble in the Dutch drug policy.

With the abolition of the ban on brothels, a brothel has become a company like any other, with the prostitutes as employees. In this way a brothel has the same legal obligations towards its employees as any other employer under Dutch law, and protitutes have the same rights as other employees.

Unfortunately things have not worked out as was hoped.

Research has shown that with the abolition of the ban on brothels, many women have started working for escort services that are harder to control and, because they often work behind a network of mobile phone numbers, harder to trace.
The women leave the sex clubs because they are unsure of what their relationship with their employer is: do they have to give all of their personal details? What will happen to their benefit money? They prefer to work in a situation they know.

The work situation of prostitutes has not really changed since the abolition of the ban. Many illegal women have gone abroad, and club owners don't like to have the women in paid employment because it would mean they'd have to pay social taxes and pay the prostitutes even when they're sick.

Many women have continued their work as private entrepreneurs, but are still subjected to the wishes and demands of the club owners, which leads to unsavoury situations.

The situation for illegal women has, if anything, deteriorated. The 13,000 illegal women who used to work in the (semi-legal) brothels have disappeared into the illegal circuit, where they are even harder to trace than they were and probably work in even worse circumstances.

All in all, the legalization of prostitution in The Netherlands was meant to be an improvement for prostitutes, but so far has turned out to be quite the opposite.

Source: Several articles from De Volkskrant,

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