Will Halsema also sometimes organise bus trips for them to the Westelijk Havengebied? Banning sex work in the famous red-light district is one of the options on which the mayor has said she will consult over the summer with the aim of tackling human trafficking and reducing the number of tourists. The situation now is that predominantly foreign women, of whom we do not know how they ended up here, are laughed at and photographed.
In Belgium, policies regarding sex work and prostitution are decided at the local, rather than national, level. Both districts are host to window prostitution, which Ronald Weitzer calls a hybrid of indoor and outdoor prostitution, visible from the street but conducted within a building. The red-light district of Brussels is located in one of the poorest areas of the city, a neighborhood characterized by graffiti, litter, abandoned buildings and broken windows.
I am traveling on my own through Europe this December. Part of my plan is to visit the red light areas of most places. I haven't traveled much so I am looking for advice and suggestions.
Warning: Nudity. Read more: Former prostitute exposes 'conveyor belt' of sleazy saunas. Certain streets are known for pimps who offer African girls at reduced rates.
In Brussels the red light district is located in the area around the Gare du Nord. Getting lucky takes a simple nod at the ladies, getting an interview takes a lot more. After being turned down more times than a spotty four-eyed teenager in a discotheque, finally a Nigerian woman named Monique agrees to speak to me.
A sex hotel owned by two European Commission employees has caused intense embarrassment for the Brussels authorities, who were unaware of the pair's outside business interests. The EC has begun disciplinary proceedings against the employees, an Italian and a Greek, for allegedly bringing the commission into disrepute over their involvement with the Studio Europe. The hotel, in one of Brussels' most notorious red light districts, rents rooms by the hour to prostitutes and their clients.
Bored eyes flicker up briefly before returning to the screens of mobile phones, the TV discreetly hidden in the corner, or the client trying to negotiate a knock-down price on the other side of the glass. The Belgian police appear equally indifferent to the women sitting in the dim red glow of neon tubes, even if they are occasionally flouting a city rule specifying exactly how much skin can be on display from neck to navel. Nearby in France, buying sex usually means a hasty transaction on the street and the risk of a fine or public identification.
Caroline Hodgson, as she was legally known, owned and operated three high-end establishments in neighbouring buildings on Lonsdale Street, just a short stroll from Parliament House and the Treasury building on Spring Street. Caroline Hodgson, aka Madame Brussels. Credit: Deakin University.
The main area is in the north of the central city, but there is activity also on several other streets of Brussels. Private prostitution is legal in Belgium, but benefitting from the prostitution of others like pimping or running a brothel is not. However there are some unofficial services that are tolerated.
She says that she did so as she was jealous of the women that were able to go upstairs with clients while she sat at the till of the brothel where she worked. She has never had a pimp and was able to choose her clients. Over the years Sonia Verstappen has campaigned for prostitution to be given legal recognition as a profession as this would offer greater protection to the thousands of women in Belgium that work as prostitutes. She has also slammed the lack of action by the authorities against the problems of forced prostitution and people trafficking that are all too prevalent in the red light district around Brussels North Railway station.