Amsterdam has made the decision to move sex workers, and the cannabis-selling cafes and bars, out of their city centre. The famous brothel windows in the ‘red-light’ district are being shut in order to attract ‘better tourists’. 

Femke Halsem, the city’s mayor has proposed to shut down a significant number of the windows in the narrow alleys of Amsterdam, a decision which is being backed by local political parties. 


This decision to move the De Wallen red light district was first proposed in mid-2019 stating that the sex workers had been reduced to a tourist attraction, drawing stares and abuse. The sex workers are being invited to move to a purpose-built centre elsewhere in Amsterdam, the location of which is yet to be decided.


In addition to this the mayor has been pushing to ban foreign tourists from cannabis cafes to tackle anti-social behaviour. As Amsterdam attracts 20 million tourists per year, the cafes are pushing back on this ban fearing that this will promote local dealers to take over the market. 

Time Out
Tourists are welcome to enjoy the beauty and freedom of the city, but not at any cost. We have to intervene firmly.

-CDA’s Diederik Boomsma told The Guardian


The mayor said her decision is being made in order to ‘strengthen cultural diversity and the local identity’. Instead of making it a spot for tourists to get high and gawk at sex workers. However, according to a survey conducted by a newly formed lobby group named Red Light United, 90% of the 170 female sex workers wanted to continue working in the windows in the narrow alleys and canalside streets of the Singel and De Wallen.