There is a new girl in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Her name is “Belle”, and she stands proudly and strong in a window. She, however, is not a real sex worker, it is a statue there to honor sex workers. The statue was an initiative of Mariska Majoor, founder of the Prostitution Information Centre in Amsterdam and herself a long standing activist for sex workers’ rights. “Belle” is there to remind the world that all sex workers, men, women, transgender or not alike, have a right to respect, dignity, livelyhood and agency.
The statue was unveiled 31st of March, during the open day held in the Red Light District where she now stands. During the open day 20 businesses, ranging from brothels and sex theaters to flowershops and churches, opened their doors for the public. It was a unique chance to take a look behind the scenes. Visitors could take a look inside the windows and were given explainations about how the women work, they could take a free coffee in one of the caffees, they got a free 5 minute show (with clothes) in the Cassa Rossa, the biggest live sex theater in Amsterdam.
Of Course the main event that day was the presentation of “Belle”. At 5 pm, Mariska and several other sex workers ceremonially unveiled her in front of a croud of several hundreds. She was received with much applause, the sense of the day was a positive one. While not forgetting that still there is a lot to be done in the Netherlands to improve the working conditions and specially the regulations, the Netherlands is one of those places where working at least is legal. “Belle” now stands among the real women in the windows in one of the most famous Red Light Districts in the world, to tell everyone that we deserve respect!