Research into rules on prostitution in other countries after citizens’ initiative

The cabinet is having a comparative study carried out into the way other countries deal with prostitution. State Secretary Broekers-Knol wants to map out which different systems countries have to regulate prostitution. The rules vary greatly from country to country, ranging from prohibitions to total legalisation.

Broekers made her commitment in a debate in the House of Representatives. The reason for the debate was the citizensinitiative “I am unaffordable” of the youth movement Exxpose. They believe that there should be a ban on paid sex. Exxpose argues in favour of the ‘Swedish model’. In it, buying sex is punishable, as is making money from sex. The prostitutes themselves are not punished.

A form of violence

President Natasja Bos of Exxpose said in the Chamber that she no longer wants to remain silent about “the raw side of prostitution”. According to her, the core of the problem is that prostitution is a form of violence. She added that it often involves men with power and money against women from minority groups. “It’s time to make sex buyers responsible for the consequences of buying sex.” Bos went on to say that for a few, prostitution is a voluntary choice, but that it concerns the large group that is being exploited.

In the Chamber, only the government parties CDA and Christian Union and the opposition party SGP wholeheartedly embraced the citizens’ initiative. They, too, believe that starting to work as a prostitute is rarely a choice of their own.

Other parties don’t see anything in a ban on paid sex or question it. VVD, D66, SP and GroenLinks, among others, believe that prostitution should be a legal sector that people should be able to choose for themselves. Almost everyone emphasised that there are major abuses and that these must be combated: for example, many prostitutes are victims of human trafficking.

Legislative proposal with permit requirement

So the Cabinet does want to do research, but Broekers said beforehand that she is against criminalizing paid sex. Just like a large part of the Chamber, she is afraid that many sex workers will go into illegality, with all the risks that entails.

Broekers is more inclined to push through a bill agreed in the coalition agreement. That proposal is now before the Council of State for advice and the State Secretary hopes to submit it to the House of Representatives shortly. The bill states that both sex businesses and prostitutes must have a licence. Clients who make use of a prostitute without a licence are punishable.

Broekers-Knol thinks that with this law abuses can be prevented or dealt with more severely. The law also has to combat human trafficking.