A Walk Through the Red Light District

Julie Alderman
October 8, 2013

Amsterdam is a wonderful, beautiful, historic city. However, the beauty that surrounds me everyday often gets overshadowed by its notorious reputation for legalizing marijuana and prostitution.

My friend Matt came to visit last week, and naturally he was curious about the Red Light District, the area in Amsterdam filled with sex workers, sex shops and coffeehouses – where one would go to purchase marijuana. I took him for a walk through the area and it really struck a chord with me.

The area itself is stunning. Bridges connect sidewalks over canals. The architecture is stunning. Flats in the area go for over 1 million euros, easily. It’s a shame that it is soiled with the overwhelming smell of cannabis. People (mainly tourists) sit outside lighting up the drug, inhaling and breathing it out all over the street and consequently on my clothes.

The smell only makes the area more depressing. You walk through the narrow alleyways and streets and see women wearing skimpy lingerie showing off their bodies to get men to buy a day with them. I feel a need to look away. The sight just makes me want to cry. It reminds me of trafficking and everything terrible in the world. Matt even pointed out that many of them look younger than 18.

I understand there are many points of view when it comes to prostitution and drug use. Many of my friends on my program are taking a class through IES where they spoke to sex workers who chose their lifestyle and feel empowered. There is no place for me to judge. These women have jobs and many of them chose their jobs. All I know, is after a 30 minute walk through the Red Light District, I was relieved to get to Centraal Station and look at the beautiful center of the city and be reminded of the overwhelming beauty that surrounds me.

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Julie Alderman

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I&rsquo;m Julie Alderman, a junior at the George Washington University studying political communication, and I&rsquo;m ready for the adventure of a lifetime in Amsterdam. I love strong coffee, good writing and all types of music (from opera to country). I hail from Manlius, New York, a small town outside of Syracuse and I am ready to live it up in Amsterdam and travel all around Europe!</span></p>

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