Prostitution Price War in the Red Light District

June 1, 2009

The global economic crisis is affecting everyone, even the world's oldest profession. Times are so tough that prostitutes in Amsterdam’s famed red light district are in the midst of a full blown price war.

Business is so slow in Amsterdam’s red light district that prostitutes are slashing prices and potential customers have started “haggling” over price.  Eva, a 25-year-old blonde prostitute from Estonia, says “Some of the girls are now doing it for 30 euros (US$43). My price is still 50 euros, but the men are playing us off against each other. Some want to pay only 20 euros." Yes, that’s 20 euros for full intercourse.

The fall in prices is due to fewer tourists travelling to Amsterdam and visiting the red-light district, an area where neon-lit prostitutes sit in tiny shop windows waiting for customers. Fewer tourists mean fewer customers and many working girls are struggling to pay the rent. Eva’s co-worker, 26-year-old Oxana, says that on a good day she can service six customers, however some days she only sees one. At 50 euros a pop, that’s not enough to pay her half of the 150 euro rent.

Metje Blaak, a spokeswoman for De Rode Draad (The Red Thread) sex workers' representative group, said “"The economic crisis is changing the character of the industry. Previously, the women were in charge, now it is the men who call the shots."

Source: Anoek De Groot/AFP/Getty Images