Dutch brothels take city to court

By Geraldine Coughlan
BBC News, the Hague


Amsterdam's mayor says the sex industry attracts criminality

Brothel owners in Amsterdam's red light district have taken the city council to court over its decision to close a number of sex businesses.

The council is demanding the closure of 33 brothels, which account for around a third of the district's sex businesses, by the end of the year.

The prostitutes union says the move will force many women to work illegally.

Prostitution was legalised in the Netherlands five years ago.

Criminal activity

The brothel owners say they will go to the highest court to save a third of the windows in Amsterdam's famous red light district from disappearing.

Amsterdam's mayor, Job Cohen, claims that many sex businesses are fronts for criminal activity, such as women trafficking and money laundering.

But the prostitutes' union, the Red Thread, which represents 20,000 prostitutes, argues that closing legal brothels will force many women onto the streets.

The city council wants the banks to play a role by making it easier for sex businesses to get financing.

Many have loans from private companies which the city council says are too risky.

The city believes that with proper paperwork for registered brothels and prostitutes, banking could have a positive effect on the fight against crime at the heart of the sex industry