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Red Light District — Age Limits for visitors, prostitutes, and clients

Amsterdam Prostitution: Minimum Age

One of the most-frequently asked questions we receive is this one regarding the Red Light District: In Amsterdam, what is the age limit for prostitutes and their customers?

Red Light District Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s Red Light District by night: the Oudezijds Achterburgwal

Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in the year 2000.

Legally, prostitution is viewed as a profession like any other. Prostitutes are subject to the same legal requirements as any other business person, including the payment of income tax.

  • Age of Consent
    In the Netherlands, the age of consent for non-commercial sex is 16
  • Prostitutes
    Throughout the Netherlands, prostitutes must be at least 18 years old. A new law, not yet in effect, will soon raise the minimum age to 21. It has not yet been determined at what date the new law will take effect.
    • However, since July, 2013, the City of Amsterdam already requires prostitutes to be at least 21 years of age. The city raised the age limit as part of a series of measures to tackle widespread abuse, including human trafficking and slavery. Engaging the services of a prostitute under the age of 18 is a punishable crime.
  • Customers
    Clients must be at least 16 years old — the age of consent. There are calls from a Christian political party to introduce a minimum age of 21 for customers.

Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution

Don’t miss a visit to the Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution. The museum is located in a former brothel, at the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. That’s right in the middle of the Red Light District. You will you learn the story of sex work in Amsterdam, and how prostitution became a legal profession.

You’ll also be able to experience what it is like to sit in a red-lighted window yourself. (Talk about a unique selfie!)

In the Netherlands, voluntary prostitution is a legal profession. Forced prostitution is illegal.

Despite continuing efforts to crack down on crime, human trafficking still occurs.

If you, as a customer, suspect that the prostitute you visit is not working of her own free will and/or may show signs of having been abused, it is your legal responsibility to report a possible crime. You can do so anonymously, by calling a hotline operated by an independent organization: 0800-7000 (free call).

Meld Misdaad Anoniem (M. for short) (Report Crime Anonymously) will investigate and share credible information with the appropriate authorities.

Meld Misdaad Anoniem is a member of the international organization Crime Stoppers International (CSI).

Video: how to report crime anonymously in the Netherlands

Visiting the Red Light District: Minimum Age

There is no minimum age to visit the Red Light Area. It is, after all, a residential neighborhood that is home to some 9.000 people.

You’ll also find a wide variety of businesses — from art galleries to restaurants, and from cafés and coffee houses to supermarkets. There even is a daycare center across from the Old Church and right next door to window brothels.

Safest Way: Guided Red Light District Tours

The best and safest way to visit Amsterdam’s Red Light District is to take a guided tour led by someone who knows the area and its history inside-out.

Most tours are in narrated in Englisch, but tours in German, French, and Spanish are also popular.

See Also:

Amsterdam Red Light District Fights Human Trafficking
Network of human traffickers forced women into prostitution
Panel of customers advises Amsterdam City Council on well-being of prostitutes
City will make promotion of Red Light District ‘more honest’
Famous Red Light District to be cleaned up

Last updated CET (Central European Time)

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