Whore next door

Hardebollenstraat

Most people immediately associate “Red Light District” with Amsterdam, but in fact a number of cities in The Netherlands have so-called “window prostitution.” Utrecht is one of them, and in fact the red light district is just right down the road from our flat – I pass it every time I go to the supermarket to get groceries!

Of course, Utrecht’s red light district is small compared to Amsterdam, with only one street and several windows of women to choose from. It’s pretty entertaining because the street is quite short, so the prospective clients basically have to walk up and down the same street to pick their prostitute. Often times when I pop into the grocery store for a carton of milk, I’ll notice the same handful of dodgy-looking men doing loops around the block on both my way in and my way out.

Snow Penis

But what is most amusing about is the name of the street – Hardebollenstraat, which means “Hard Ball Street.” And when there was a big winter snow, some bloke with a great sense of humour (and some time on his hands) built a gigantic snow penis, nearly as tall as the lamppost, on the street. You have to give him credit for making it look exceptionally realistic…

Prostitution – just like marijuana – is legal in The Netherlands, but it is highly regulated. Brothels are legal but have to be licensed; street prostitution occurs in specially managed zones with designated car parks, replete with “privacy screens” separating the cars; and the window prostitutes are self-employed, pay taxes, have a trade union, and are subject to labour laws. Pimping is illegal.

Live Sex Show

According to the Lonely Planet, only 5% of the prostitutes working the Red Light District are Dutch nationals (apparently many of them come from Eastern Europe). On average, prostitutes have to pay €75 to €150 to rent the window for an 8-hour shift. They typically earn €50 for a “quickie,” the average duration of an encounter with a prostitute is 15 minutes, and the nation that provides the most clients is… Great Britain.

I’ll confirm these facts and get the full low-down when I visit the Prostitution Information Centre in Amsterdam and take a tour of the Red Light District and a prostitute’s working room.

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About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.
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4 Responses to Whore next door

  1. Danielle says:

    This is funny… I passed by this street for probably the 10th time today on my way to Albert Heijn and /finally/ put the pieces together. Red lights, woman in the window, scantily clad, man walking out adjusting his pants… oh.

    Thanks for the post, this confirmed it. 🙂

  2. George says:

    I am working on a website about red light districts. I will be in Utrecht at the end of August and would like to get some photos. I do not want to photo the girls, just the windows. Please could you tell me how early they start working in the morning. I hope to visit before they arrive.
    I am hoping it’s not like Antwerp where there are girls 24 hours a day.

  3. Pingback: Jenever « What the Dutch

  4. Pingback: Red Light Boats « What the Dutch

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