Amsterdam's mayor has proposed drawing the curtains over the notorious glass-fronted booths where prostitutes ply their trade, as part of an overhaul of the city's red-light district.

Femke Halsema, the Dutch capital's first female mayor, has presented four options for improving conditions for sex workers, cutting crime and reducing the burden of mass tourism in the area.

The proposals follow a series of interviews in which she has decried "the humiliation of women by large groups of tourists" as "unacceptable" and pledged to make fundamental changes.

The red-lit canal-side windows and sex shops of the De Wallen district are one of the biggest draws for the 18 million tourists who flock to the city every year.


"The traditional, licensed form of sex work in parts of the city centre is under pressure due to the growing number of visitors to Amsterdam," said Halsema.

"For many visitors, the sex workers have become no more than an attraction to look at. In some cases this is accompanied by disruptive behaviour and a disrespectful attitude to the sex workers in the windows.

"At the same time, there has also been a major increase in unlicensed, underground prostitution."

Under the mayor's first option, "the curtains of the window brothels close" so that "sex workers and their workplaces are no longer visible from the street".

Other suggestions include moving some of the window booths out of De Wallen to other areas of the city, or closing down all of the booths in the area and setting up a new red-light district elsewhere.

However, the city could also increase the number of window brothels in the red-light district from the current level of 330, while "the establishment of a sex work hotel is also a possibility".

Lyle Muns, spokesman for My Red Light, a brothel collective, stressed that sex workers needed to have a central role in the discussions.

"Shutting workplaces without a good alternative would be very bad for sex workers," he told the Daily Telegraph.


"But I am pleased they are looking at new workplaces outside De Wallen — the so-called prostitution hotels."

The mayor will meet sex workers, residents and local businesses this month and the proposals will be discussed by the city council and its lawyers in September.