A prostitute drinks coffee behind her window in the red light district in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. About a third of Amsterdam's red-lit windows for prostitutes will disappear from the city center as one of the main brothel owners is set to sell his empire to a real estate company. [sohu.com]
On the edge of a cobbled path
that runs along a canal in the heart of Amsterdam, a pretty woman lit her cigarette, struck a pose and smiled at the tourists pouring past. Dressed in white lingerie
, her bleached blonde hair bathed in red light, the prostitute beckoned men towards her and the unmade bed behind.
"They say we give Amsterdam a bad reputation," she said, pushing her window open slightly. "Rubbish. This is the only reputation we have."
Last week, the city announced that it would be closing down a third of its famed brothels. Within a matter of months, 52 of the iconic window displays that line the streets of the busy red-light district will disappear.
Come January, the blinds will be drawn down on the window that frames the blonde prostitute, looking down over the canal, and the sign above her that reads "raam verhuur" (windows for rent) will also be gone.
The 22-year-old was fed up. "I was thinking of quitting anyway," she said. "So this will make the final decision for me."
As she spoke, a young, drunken man hollered, "30 euros". Looking slightly offended, she pointed across the canal and quietly said: "I think you should try that part of the district."
Her building is one of those where the rent is highest and the sex most expensive. It is owned, like so many of the brothels, by property magnate Charlie Geerts, who gave up a year-long battle with the authorities last week and finally sold up.
In a deal worth $37 million, officials will buy 18 buildings from Geerts - known as Amsterdam's Emperor of Sex - and close down the "windows". The final decision came from the city's mayor, Job Cohen, who argued that the brothels were attracting crime and money-laundering to the area. "We want to get rid of the underlying criminality," he told a TV station last week.
Those who live above and beside the windows have been fairly supportive of the move. One man, who refused to be named, said that prostitution was a core part of the area and he did not want it to disappear completely.
"But we are getting more and more petty criminals here," he said. "Hopefully by cutting down on the brothels the problems will be better controlled."
Cohen and others in the city know that the prostitutes posing and preening in their windows are a huge draw for visitors. This weekend, the roads and alleys, lined with old-fashion street-lamps, were packed with tourists from all over the world.
Outside the Casa Rosso theatre, large crowds were trying to get in to watch the live sex shows from red velvet seats. A few hundred yards down the street, an erotic museum was also busy. "Most people think the decision to close the windows is absurd," said the man on the door.
"They do not have to be proud of window prostitution," says former prostitute Mariska Majoor, who now runs Amsterdam's Prostitution Information Center. "But they should feel proud of the fact that here a free person can be the person they want to be and that the authorities do what they can to make everybody safe in this city."
Prostitution, she added, existed in every city, in every country, in every part of the world. All that was different here was that it took place in public - and that made the women less open to exploitation and abuse.
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）