Travel writer Rick Steves paints a picture of a carefree, progressive community in his “Amsterdam’s live-and-let-live spirit” article in The Baltimore Sun (”Rick Steves’ Europe: A conversation in Amsterdam, where a coffee shop is more than a coffee shop,” Aug. 8). Let the readers not be fooled, however, by his portrayal of legalized prostitution in Amsterdam being the domain of the so-called empowered entrepreneur working in hygienic, safe conditions.
The tragedy of human sexual exploitation and trafficking is certainly something the Dutch and people of good will around the world have been struggling with for years. It is disconcerting, however, when writers like Mr. Steves portray their efforts as successful. The reality is that the legalization of prostitution in Amsterdam has led to increased sex trafficking, offering less protection for the vulnerable women and men throughout Europe and other parts of the world. In fact, the protection now offered is for the organized crime elements who benefit from what is in some, but not all cases, a legal business.
While the issue is far more complex that one can describe in a few paragraphs, I would encourage Baltimore Sun readers to research the subject, especially the work of Renate van der Zee, who has researched and spoken out about the failed Dutch experiment.
Mark E. Breaux, Columbia
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