Red light district netherlands
The Netherlands

Is it common for Dutch men to visit the Red Light district?

A while ago someone from India popped a message in my Facebook Messenger asking me about the infidelity of men in the Netherlands and whether it is common for them to visit the Red Light district. Or to go to a prostitute and why would a man do such a thing?

This question coming from someone living in a country that has rape as 4th most crime on the crime list made me wonder. Why is this person bothered by the behavior of men in Holland, when actually they should be concerned with the behavior of men in their own country? Although I wanted to ask a few questions myself on the behavior of men in India I did not want to end up in a discussion about ethics. So I decided to just answer the question.

I told that almost every city and town in the Netherlands has a Red Light district of some sort, one street or maybe 2, where it is allowed to sell sex from behind a window. Women in lingerie show their bodies from behind the glass, men can watch decide whether they want to become a customer. Once they do, the curtain is closed. Usually, that takes up till 30-40 minutes before it is opened again.


The other way of booking a prostitute is to call one of the many phone numbers you will find in newspaper ads and on the internet. She (or he) will visit you at home, or you go over to their place or a hotel room.

A strange question coming from a country where rape is in the top 4 of all crimes committed

Prostitution in the Netherlands
Pictures provided by Google Images

I saw a documentary on television about the sex habits of Dutch men and women and prostitution. The voice-over told that the influence of the economic crisis also hit the Red Light districts in the Netherlands. Even sex became a discount item over the last few years. The usual fee is around 50 euros for half an hour, but now, at some locations, you can get a discount and even get yourself some pleasure for 10 euros per 15 minutes.

I doubt if the lack of business is due to the economic crisis. I for myself believe that the availability of free sex in ‘the age of the App’ has grown. And websites like ‘Second Love’ and Adult Match make it easier to get free sex. So why pay?
I have a male friend, he is without a girlfriend now. A few years ago he would call for a prostitute or a call girl, and now he creates a profile on an adult matching site and he has sex for free.
On his behalf, there is a prostitute somewhere out there without income.

Is it a common thing to do?

If you believe the media: yes, it is a common thing to do.
What is getting more common in the Netherlands is that women are more open about their sex life and the fact they have one-night stands as well, paid or not. The whole prostitute thing still is a bit of a smirky subject nobody really talks about openly, at least not in my age group.
It is not common to tell your friends you went to see a hooker. It is not common to tell your family you are a swinger or you visit a brothel. You keep that part of your life a bit to yourself. Young people talk more openly about sex, but do they also talk about visiting brothels?  I’m not so sure they do. Somehow in our brains we Dutch do connect visiting prostitutes and participation in sex tourism to losers. Like I said, in my age group it is not done to be open about this subject. And the fact that there are hardly any absolute figures available on how many sex workers there are in the Netherlands and how many men visit prostitutes, is evidence to me that it is still an undercover world.

It might not be commonly accepted but it is done, everybody knows that.

On the other hand: With sex being so easily accessible it is bound to become a more common subject in daily life. Advertisements on TV and in magazines and documentaries on TV about habits, techniques, and ways to increase pleasure, open up possibilities to be more open about sex. Only a few religious people who act on their faith, are still in resistance against the upcoming openness about sexual behavior, including one night stands, adultery or visiting prostitutes.

Some statistics I found while doing research on this subject state that 1 out of every 10 men is visiting a prostitute on a regular basis. I believe, and so do the male friends I spoke with about this subject, it’s more like 3 or maybe even 4 out of 10 men. But we disagreed about the terminology here, is webcam sex also visiting a whore? Or phone sex considered adultery?
There are around 25.000 sex workers in the Netherlands.
In Amsterdam, there are about 650 registered prostitutes (2014).  Most of the available statistics are estimates because not everybody is registered and lots of small ads in the newspapers show that there are many women working from home.

Why do men do it?

I’ve asked my male friends and here are some reasons:

  • quick relief no strings attached
  • prostitute make good listeners
  • prostitutes want to do sex in a way the wife doesn’t want to
  • lack of intimacy in personal life
  • experimental
  • a quick answer to loneliness
  • fun
  • anonymous

And here are some reasons they gave for not having sex with a prostitute

  • do not want to cheat
  • it’s cheap love
  • it’s for losers that cannot get a girlfriend
  • shame/embarrassment
  • fear someone will recognize you
  • fear of sexually transmitted diseases
  • fear of the unknown
  • I do not want to pay for sex

All reasons are in random order, and some men gave more than one answer. One even said: I do not want to cheat but my wife does not want to do certain acts, that is why I visit a prostitute every now and then.

I guess the answer to the initial question is: no it’s not common for men in the Netherlands to visit a prostitute but it is more and more accepted because we are more open about our sexual behavior than ever and the availability of (free) sex is larger than it has ever been.

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Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher, and iPhone photographer. Always horizon bound preferably on a motorcycle. Currently, she lives in a desert village in Baja California Sur in Mexico. She is an emigration coach and works online.