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Dutch cities divided over WFH plan for sex workers

Dutch cities are divided on whether sex workers should be allowed to work from home. 

While sex work has been legal in the Netherlands since 2000, a limited number of regions have allowed sex workers to operate independently from home.

Proposed legislation could change that, with the government looking to regulate the sector to reflect the increase in home-based and online work.

That would mean sex workers would need to meet strict conditions to get a permit from their local authority.

But a number of regions are not happy with the prospect of working from home in the industry.

Nos, the Netherlands’ largest news organisation, surveyed 150 municipalities and found many believed it would be a “nuisance” for local residents.

Beverwijk, a town about 12 miles northwest of Amsterdam, told Nos it predicted the quality of life and sense of safety in the neighborhood would deteriorate with a change of rules.

Moerdijk, in the south of the Netherlands, argued it would lead to traffic congestion, street disturbances and “people in the area feeling less safe”, Dutch News reported.

Some places raised concerns about the safety of sex workers and difficulty monitoring home working environments.

“If sex work takes place in the private sphere, it is difficult to gain insight into possible abuses,” a representative for the municipality of Kaag en Braassem in South Holland told Nos.

But some areas opposed the idea of licensing on the grounds it could drive exploitation of sex workers underground.

The city of Tilburg told Nos: “Unlicensed sex workers actually become more vulnerable to coercion, violence and blackmail.”

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But a growing number of areas permit working from home, including Rotterdam, Tilburg, Hilversum and Utrecht.

There are conditions including that the sex worker must live at the address and work completely independently.

In Enschede, sex workers are not allowed to work in flats or near schools, while Lingewaard allows working from home but not in rental properties.

Many municipalities told Nos they had not yet decided whether they support the proposed national rules.

The plans have been on hold since the collapse of Mark Rutte’s coalition government last July and no date has been set for the law to be brought before parliament, Dutch News reported.