Right now, the legislative proposal Sex Work Regulation act is in consultation. That means the government is asking the people what they think of this law. So for sex workers and allies, this is the time to speak out against these laws.
This is a blog from Redinsight.
The Sex Work Regulation Act (WRS)
We’ve talked about it; the WRS is terrible. It means that many sex workers in the Netherlands will be criminalised and it will become almost impossible for us to work safely or go to the police when they experience violence. Sex workers who do manage to work legally must first report to their municipality so that they can be vetted by an official. And there’s no guarantee we can actually find a workplace. Customers who purchase a service from an unlicensed sex worker (CAUTION: we are not talking about victims of abuse here) become criminalized. But fortunately for clients, they can avoid punishment by reporting sex workers to the police. In other words, all sex workers are worse off with this law.
Copy paste or make a .pdf
The SWAD wrote two example letters. The first one is nice and short and you can copy paste it directly onto the consultation website. You can even do it from your phone! The second one gives extra explanation on why sex worker organisations are against the WRS. In both letters you can easily change wether you are a sex worker or an ally.
Sex workers and allies can give individual opinions but reactions from organisations are also welcome. The deadline for the WRS consultation is 17 March 2023. The deadline for the consultation is already on 28 February 2023. The more people speak out, the better. And it takes less than 3 minutes to do them both!!
Copy and Paste: NO to the WRS
The letter beneath is just under 2500 signs and can be copied and pasted ont the consultation website. Straight from your mobile phone! You can find the link to the consultation website below the letter.
I am a sex worker/ally and I oppose the WRS (read here1 why), even with the proposed changes: Article 8a: Repeat interview Understanding a person’s personal situation is a complicated process. There is no evidence that a 90-minute conversation contributes to resolving human trafficking. Repeating this interview every year is useless. It stigmatises sex workers and does not contribute to its purpose. Article 16: Data processing Processing special personal data of sex workers does not comply with our fundamental rights and puts sex workers at risk. Soa Aids’ protest letter2 against the WGTS explains the arguments against this very well. Article 40: Criminalising clients Customers are given too much power over sex workers. Customers are encouraged to report unlicensed sex workers so that they themselves do not face punishment. This is dangerous. Clients who still have doubts after visiting a sex worker, about whether a sex worker is working voluntarily, will still be punishable. So clients will not report human trafficking. And clients with bad intentions will have a blackmail tool to do violence to unlicensed sex workers. Now, sex workers are already blackmailed by clients who threaten to inform the tax authorities, for example. With this change, the position of unlicensed sex workers becomes extremely vulnerable. Listen to sex workers The ministry expects around 10,000 sex workers in the Netherlands will apply for a licence. The aim of the law is to find more abuses. But no additional costs are expected for the police. So the police do not get extra money for the extra reports. So it is expected that no more abuses will be found. Then this law is not needed. For the 17,000 sex workers who will not or cannot apply for a licence, this means that they will work in the Netherlands under the Swedish model. Research shows that this will lead to more violence and further exclusion from society. I oppose the changes in this memorandum and I oppose the WRS.EUR 13.7 million has been budgeted for this law over the next two years. I recommend investing this amount in the sex work community in the Netherlands and its alliances. Because only then will you create a safer working environment for everyone in the sex industry. 1 internetconsultatie.nl/sekswerk/reactie/31b866c0-ff4c-4181-8e69-86bbdc57b919 2 internetconsultatie.nl/seksbedrijventoezicht/reactie/35ea14db-682a-40c1-9efa-46cec1b515b0
Did you copie the letter above? Then submit it by clicking the link below and pasting it at the reaction field ‘uw reactie’, then click ‘verder’, fill your (chosen) name and finish. You can do this until the 17th of March 2023.
Submit here: Say NO to the WRS
The extended example letter is to long for the consultation website. But you can upload this one as an attachment. For this you can copy the letter below into a .doc. Pesonlise it, add your name and safe it as a .pdf You can upload your .pdf through link below the letter. Or download the word-file here.
Dear Secretary of State van der Burg,
(ADD YOURSELF: As a sex worker/ally of sex workers) in the Netherlands, I would like to respond to the proposed bill of amendment to the WRS.
Earlier, the sex work community in the Netherlands made its objections to the WRS known. The letter that Aidsfonds – Soa Aids Nederland submitted during the 2019 consultation lists those objections well. In brief, they said:
1. Do not criminalise but decriminalise Procedures such as registering sex workers or criminalising clients do not combat abuses. Research shows that decriminalisation actually has a positive effect on the safety and health of sex workers. UNAIDS, WHO, UNFPA and UNDP therefore also recommend decriminalisation: in fact, strengthening one’s legal status reduces victimisation.
2. False security and the counter productiveness of registering sex workers Many voluntary sex workers do not register for privacy reasons. It only creates false visibility of those who have registered because coercion cannot be ruled out from the registration interview.
3. Poorer access to care and assistance Because unlicensed sex workers will seek clients through other routes, they will become harder to reach for healthcare and social institutions. In addition, sex workers will no longer dare to go to a healthcare or assistance provider, because of the fear of (legal) consequences.
4. Willingness to report crimes will decrease further Unlicensed sex workers will not dare call on the police for fear of repressive measures. The willingness to report is already extremely low; this will only increase under the new bill.
The bill of amendment gives no improvements for the aforementioned objections. Many amendments make it even worse. In particular, the following:
A – Article 8a
Understanding a person’s personal situation is a lengthy and complicated process. There is no scientific evidence that a 90-minute interview can contribute in countering human trafficking. Repeating this useless interview annually not only creates a further stigmatised position for sex workers, it also does not contribute to the goal it says to pursue.
D – Article 16
Processing special personal data of sex workers goes against our fundamental rights and puts sex workers at risk. Again, the sex work community has already spoken out against this, including in the internet consultation for the WGTS. The letter submitted here by Aidsfonds – Soa Aids Nederland again provides a good overview of the arguments against this paragraph and its extension.
F – Article 40
This amendment rewards clients for reporting sex workers to the police. The clarification shows that the abuses referred to in this paragraph are not abuses. They are merely the lack of a licence or the fact that a person makes personal choices around sexual risks. The police will soon be called when someone has not had safe sex; the sex worker is harmed and the client goes free.
Clients who still have doubts about the sex worker’s voluntariness after recieving a sexual service will still be punishable. Therefore, the expectation that clients will report this is zero. So with this change, there will be no more reports of human trafficking, while giving malicious customers a blackmail tool to be violent to unlicensed sex workers. Currently, sex workers are already being blackmailed by clients who threaten to inform the tax authorities or the housing association. This change makes the position of sex workers working without a licence extremely vulnerable.
Lead with the welfare of sex workers
The amendment shows that about a third of all sex workers in the Netherlands are expected to apply for a licence. That is around 10,000 licences. The aim of this law is to better identify abuses. However, no extra burden is expected to be placed on the police, nor will more money be freed up to legally deal with abuses against sex workers. Therefore, if on balance the visibility of abuses remains the same, this law is unnecessary.
For the nearly 20,000 sex workers who do not want or cannot apply for a licence, this means that they will work in the Netherlands under the Swedish model. Scientific research shows that this will lead to more violence and further exclusion from society.
I advise/ We advise against the changes in this bill of amendment and against this bill.
13.7 million EUR has been budgeted for this bill over the next two years. I recommend investing this amount in strengthening the sex work community in the Netherlands and its alliances. Only then will you contribute to a safer working climate for everyone in the sex industry.
(ADD YOURSELF: your name and/or your organisation)
Submit here: Say NO to the WRS
Done? Thank you for your support. In the near future, sex workers and allies in the Netherlands will make ourselves heard even more so be sure to read RedInsight.org for more sex work news!