Prostitution in general
It is said prostitution is as old as humankind. This seems plausible, even in the earliest scriptures the profession is mentioned. In the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, Judah – grandson of patriarch Abraham, pays a prostitute to have relations with him. Only to find out later the prostitute he visited was his daughter-in-law Tamar.
What is a prostitute?
‘The man or woman at the heart of our subject. He or she offers sex in exchange for money or other benefits.’ The definition seems straightforward. However, reality proves to be much more complicated. There are many forms of ‘having sex’ in which money plays a role.
Just two examples to show how complex the definition of prostitution can be:
• A woman who sleeps with her boss to get a better job, or a nice present
• A man who marries a woman for her family fortune.
Do you consider these examples form of prostitution?
Prostitution is a tough business, shrouded worldwide in exploitation and secrecy. In the Red Light District, there is stringent inspection and supervision to minimize potential abuses, the primary aim is the prevention of forced prostitution.
Red Light Secrets sees prostitutes as strong men and women who are thriving in their profession. They exude pride, both in their bodies and their work.
A short history
The Red Light District, or ‘De Wallen’ as the area is known to locals, is the oldest district of Amsterdam. Ever since it was built around 1385, it has been both famous and notorious for the women inhabiting its streets.
Since the beginning of modern history, Amsterdam has been a trading city with a large port. As early as the 14th and 15th centuries sailors, who were waiting for their ships to depart, roamed De Wallen. When looking for enjoyment this was the neighborhood that provided them with all they needed: both beer and women were readily available in the countless bars and inns.
Threats and diseases
Prostitution was even legal in the 15th century, although visiting a prostitute officially was not. That changed at the end of the 16th century when Amsterdam became Protestant. The new city council decided to forbid any prostitution. The politicians threatened men visiting whores with severe measures and the ladies themselves with expulsion. But, as often the case in Amsterdam policies, the threats proved to be mainly verbal.
In daily life, a blind eye was turned to what was going on in the Red Light District, and the next, prosperous 17th Golden Century, even saw a rampant growth in whoredom. An estimated thousand women were selling physical delights for a living in these years. Especially at the end of summer, when the vessels returned from the East Indies, they were incredibly busy entertaining the crew that came back from a long, boring and lonesome journey. While they were making good money, there was also a big problem on the rise. The raging sexually transmitted diseases, like gonorrhea and syphilis, were often fatal.