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July 02, 2004 12:00am
Seal of Quality for Brothels
Source: Reuters

(THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS) -- The Dutch government backs plans for "seals of quality" for well-run brothels and standard contracts for prostitutes, as well as more support for those who want to leave the world's oldest profession, it said on Friday.

The Dutch cabinet said it supported the initiative from the prostitution industry to further improve supervision four years after the Netherlands lifted a ban on brothels to improve regulation of the business and fight trafficking in women.

"The sector has said it wants to develop a seal of quality to improve its image," the cabinet said in a statement. "This seal could be given to prostitution firms, which ... comply with criteria in areas such as safety, health and integrity.

The Netherlands has some of the world's most liberal rules on prostitution, defined as a legal profession since 1988. There are some 2,000 brothels operating openly in the country's infamous "Red Light" districts and about 30,000 prostitutes.

The center-right government urged local authorities which are responsible for regulating brothels in their regions to work with the industry to develop such policies.

It said abuses had declined since the ban was lifted on brothels but called on the police to do more to inform the victims of trafficking about the possibility of temporary or permanent residence in the Netherlands.

A large proportion of prostitutes in the Netherlands are illegal immigrants, some of whom are working against their will.

The cabinet also backed programs to help prostitutes leave the profession and said it would introduce a central register for license holders in the escort business and a code of conduct for the media so only licensees could advertise their services.

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