Prostitution and violence against women and girls

Presented by Daphne Rein, Ioana-Sorina Alexa, Olimpia Guidi, Sarah Kuipers and Sterre Krijnen

In the Netherlands, where prostitution is legalised, hidden forms of prostitution are characterised under illegal forms of prostitution by Dutch law. The city of Amsterdam is well known for its many districts where prostitution attracts tourists1, and in this city, hidden forms of prostitution are illegal. For example, it is illegal for massage parlours to supply sexual services without a licence2. In addition, it is illegal to supply sexual services in private residences unless it is an individual working alone who holds a licence under the municipality of the city to carry out this activity3.

And even if it is illegal and can be prosecuted, child pornography can be considered a hidden form of prostitution4. In the Netherlands, the production, distribution, exhibition, importation, forwarding, exportation, and possession of child pornography are explicitly outlawed under various sections of the Dutch Penal Code5. Specifically, Article 240b criminalises these activities, making them illegal and subject to prosecution. This legal provision, along with related sections such as Article 240c addressing the grooming of minors and Article 240a concerning engaging in sexual acts with minors, forms the comprehensive legal framework aimed at combating child pornography. However, despite these stringent laws, a significant challenge persists. The Internet Watch Foundation revealed in 2019 that the Netherlands hosted 71% of known URLs containing child pornography content online within the European Union6. This alarming revelation underscores the complexity of tackling the issue, prompting a critical examination of the effectiveness of existing laws and the need for enhanced measures to address the online hosting of such illicit content.

This is a report submitted to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


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Featured Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

1Julie Bindel, “Amsterdam turns on its sex punters.”. UnHerd. April 2023.

2City of Amsterdam, “Policy: Prostitution”, n.d.

3City of Amsterdam, “Policy: Prostitution”, n.d.

4Government of the Netherlands, «Crime and Crime Prevention: Sentencing » n.d.

5 Government of the Netherlands, «Crime and Crime Prevention: Sentencing » n.d.

6 European Commission, “Increased amount of child sexual abuse material detected in Europe”. Migration and Home Affairs. April 2020.

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