Amsterdam: Mokum Kraakt squats former windows in the Red Light District

Mokum Kraakt squats on the Dollebegijnensteeg in the Red Light District in solidarity with the sex workers and against the arrival of the erotic center. During a protest against the planned erotic centre, squatting collective Mokum Kraakt announced it has squatted a number of former sex work windows in De Wallen, Amsterdam’s red light district.

The squatters say the windows were squatted in solidarity with sex workers who fight against plans for an erotic centre on the outskirts of the city. Sex work has been a part of De Wallen for over 400 years and sex workers have clearly and repeatedly said they want to stay in the city centre. The people living close to the location of the prospective location of the erotic centre are also against it. And still, mayor Halsema is pushing through her plans.

According Mokum Kraakt, the planned erotic centre is in fact an erotic prison, in which the state has total control over who can and can’t sell, or buy, sex. In this, we see only the latest state attempt to control sex workers and restrict people’s right to sex and sexuality. Also, closing windows in De Wallen would force a part of the sex workers active there now into illegality, where exploitation and coercion are much more prevalent.

Although the municipality presents closing windows as a way to reduce mass tourism in the area, research shows that limiting sex work would barely have an impact on the number of tourists that flock to De Wallen. We previously occupied an empty hotel close to Leidse square to protest Amsterdam’s tourism policy and we say the municipality itself is to blame for out-of-control tourism. The municipality was never against mass tourism, and isn’t now. The real aim is for a different kind of tourist to come to the city, a richer kind. In the meantime, the city becomes more and more unaffordable for its citizens, sex workers are stigmatised and pushed away, and the large numbers of tourists stay as they are.

The former sex work windows have been vacant for nearly two years, and are owned by Stadsgoed NV, the real estate company responsible for introducing the maligned waffle shops to Amsterdam’s city centre. In the squat, we will create a meeting place for sex workers to organise. We demand more sex and less Halsema. We are against pushing out sex workers and against a prudish city. What’s fundamental for us is that inhabitants and workers decide what the neighbourhood looks like, instead of the municipality changing things unrecognisably from the top down. If it’s up to the mayor, De Wallen will become a sanitised shopping mall for the moneyed class. We don’t accept that and that’s why we will sabotage every step that’s taken towards the erotic centre.

Mokum Kraakt
Amsterdam, Netherlands
mokumkraakt [at] riseup [dot] net

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