Protests over red light district cleanup
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The Hague - Hundreds of prostitutes and supporters protested on Thursday in Amsterdam against plans to reinvigorate the city's famed red light district by closing some of the windows where sex workers sit to draw clients.
“About 250 people demonstrated in the red light district against the closure of the windows,” city police spokeswoman Marjolein Koek told AFP.
The famously open-minded city has proposed shutting down some of the brothels in the district to help in the fight against human trafficking and other crimes.
About 115 of the 500 red and pink-lit windows have already been closed in recent years.
The demonstrating prostitutes - many masked to hide their identities - waved signs during the protest saying “Don't save us, save our windows” and “Stop closing our windows”, according to Dutch TV.
“Sex is a legal career in the Netherlands and we need support, we want to be taken seriously by politicians,” said a spokeswoman for the prostitutes cited by Dutch press agency ANP.
“We are, nonetheless, being treated like pariahs and kicked out of the neighbourhood without anyone asking our opinion,” she added.
Prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands since 2000.
Many of the windows remained empty during the protest, bearing a written message to Amsterdam's mayor Eberhard van der Laan: “You are stealing our jobs.”
About 7 000 sex workers ply their trade in Amsterdam and some 75 percent of them come from poorer countries, particularly in eastern Europe.