Dutch sex workers form trade union

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The Independent Online

Sex-trade workersin the Netherlands are forming the world's first trade union for prostitutes, a year after the government legalised brothels.

Sex-trade workersin the Netherlands are forming the world's first trade union for prostitutes, a year after the government legalised brothels.

The new union will belong to the national trade union federation, allowing prostitutes to negotiate a collective agreement with brothel owners.

Prostitution has never been illegal in the Netherlands – only the venue in which it takes place. Since the ban was lifted last year, brothels, sex clubs, private houses and windows where sex is advertised for sale must have permits and meet health and safety standards. They must also pay tax.

About 40 per cent of Dutch prostitutes are illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe, Sudan, Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Although brothels are now supposed to be run professionally, many prostitutes are freelancers and feel the new law does nothing to improve their situation, despite a crackdown on the human traffickers who import them.

Sex workers have long complained of discrimination by banks and insurance companies. Last month, a prostitutes' group won a battle against ING Bank, setting a precedent for them to operate normal business accounts.

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