Dutch Vote Legalizes Brothels

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Subject: Dutch Vote Legalizes Brothels
From: A. Jordan (annj@hrlawgroup.org)
Date: Fri Oct 29 1999 - 16:37:27 EDT

Another piece!

Dutch Vote Legalizes Brothels

.c The Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Parliament on Tuesday overturned a 1912 ban
on brothels, voting to clean up the oldest profession by turning bordellos
into legitimate establishments in the booming Dutch sex industry.

By a vote of 49 to 26, the Upper House approved the bill that officially
made it legal to run a brothel anywhere in the country, subject to local
zoning ordinances. The Lower House passed the bill in February by an
overwhelming majority.

Queen Beatrix must sign the bill within 30 days for it to become law, which
is just a formality.

Tuesday's vote went along party lines, with the opposition Christian
Democratic Alliance as the major opponent, supported by a bloc of small
conservative Christian factions. The CDA was not opposed to brothels as
such, but wanted to reserve the right of local authorities to make their
communities brothel-free.

``I understand the need for improved working conditions for the
prostitutes, but this will give towns and cities too few options,'' said
CDA member Pieter Jan Biesheuvel, who crafted the party's response to the
bill in Parliament.

The new law is aimed at guaranteeing cleaner and safer working conditions
for the country's estimated 30,000 prostitutes and allowing police to focus
their crackdowns on the employment of illegal immigrants and underaged
girls. Prostitution is already legal in the Netherlands.

``This proposal overturns the ban on brothels and replaces it with a ban on
child prostitution and exploitation of involuntary prostitution,'' said an
official summary of the law. ``It will enable municipalities to regulate
voluntary prostitution and the position of prostitutes will be improved.''

The Red Thread, a major national prostitutes association, welcomed the
vote, but was concerned the law would prioritize law enforcement over
improving the working conditions of prostitutes.

``We want them to be treated as well as people in any other sector,'' she
said, adding that the organization would lobby for government-mandated
benefits including sick pay, maternity leave and fair wage scales.

Although bordellos have been illegal, they have long been allowed to
operate in clearly defined areas such as the red light districts of
Amsterdam and most other major cities, as long as they follow strict
standards for health and fire safety.

AP-NY-10-26-99 1156EDT

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.

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