Scores of prostitutes took to the streets of Amsterdam on Thursday to protest moves to rejuvenate the city's famed Red Light District by shuttering windows where scantily-clad sex workers pose to attract clients.
About 200 people – prostitutes and their supporters who wore masks to protect their identities – marched through the Red Light District carrying red umbrellas and banners including one that read: "Don't save us, save our windows!"
The prostitutes took their noisy but peaceful protest all the way into city hall, where they presented a petition to Mayor Eberhard van der Laan and told him that the closures are depriving them of safe places to work.
Ruth Morgan-Thomas, representing an organization called the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, said the city was going in the wrong direction by closing the windows.
"Amsterdam had it right," she said. "They enabled women and men and transgenders to work safely. Now they are closing windows. That makes people more vulnerable."
Amsterdam municipality is involved in a long-term initiative to reinvigorate the historic network of canal-side streets and narrow alleys in part by reducing the number of brothel windows. Some 115 of the 500 windows have been closed in recent years.
Dozens more had been slated for closure, but that now appears unlikely to happen.
Van der Laan said the women were fighting a battle they had already won, telling them that the municipal council now wants to spend less money buying back windows and will likely reduce the number considerably.
That didn't satisfy the protesters, who said they wanted their windows back.