Disneyland for grown-ups

26 Sep

On my way to an appointment, I am walking through Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Feeling increasingly uncomfortable, I see herds of drunk day trippers gaping at the female flesh on display. English stag parties, with the groom-to-be dressed in prisoner outfits, breast-adorned aprons or, I kid you not, a pink penis suit, dazed Americans with blood-stained eyes, looking for the nearest coffeeshop, teens wearing tracksuits and Prada bags: everyone is welcome in our Disneyland for grown-ups. “Come here baby!” a girl calls a lingering man in front of her door. She can’t be more than 20 years old, wears high patent leather boots, her double D cup almost jumping out of her gold glitter bikini.
But all that glitters is not gold in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. According to the most conservative estimate, half of the ladies on display are not sitting in those windows out of free will – some even say it could be 80 or 90% – I heard last Saturday at a debate on human trafficking organised by human rights organisation GHRD. That means that in Amsterdam alone, at least 4000 women are having paid sex against their will on a daily basis. Another shocking statistic: the most common country of origin of victims registered by the National Coordination Center for Trafficking is.. the Netherlands. Women beaten up with baseball bats, having forced abortions, being coerced into sleeping with dozens of men per day – without getting a single cent in return. Modern slavery, less than 10 minutes from my house. Would Disneyland have as many visitors if parents knew that Minnie, Mickey and Donald had to hand over their passports, give away their salaries and were raped by their boss as part of the hiring process? I wonder.

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