Position of prostitutes aged under 21 strengthened

Minister Ard van der Steur (Security and Justice) has decided to drop the proposed criminalisation of prostitutes aged under 21. By implementing this measure, the Minister expects young prostitutes to find protection more easily. Their position is strengthened, as a barrier to contacting the police and reporting sexual exploitation is removed. In making this decision, the Minister follows the advice of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings.

This is apparent from the answers to questions posed on the amendment to the bill Regulating prostitution and combating abuses in the sex industry submitted to the House of Representatives. It is the next step in the parliamentary debate on the bill, which aims to ensure that prostitutes will be able to practice their trade in a safer and more healthy fashion.

The lower age limit of 21 is only kept for clients and operators. Criminalising prostitution practised by those below 21 does not contribute to strengthening their position, even though they have their own personal responsibility in this connection. Overly young prostitutes are more likely to seek help if their actions are not criminalised.

The strict age limit will continue to apply to clients and operators. A client who performs sexual acts with a prostitute under the age of 21 years faces a prison sentence of up to one year. If such a provision were not in force, the client would be free to in no way concern themselves with the young prostitute.

Operators are punishable if they allow prostitutes under 21 years to work for them. The proposed licensing system for the sex industry will impose nationally applicable requirements on operators of prostitution enterprises. The Act will ensure that licensed enterprises provide a safe and responsible working environment. This will soon also include all escort agencies.