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Old Red Light District in Utrecht
Old Red Light District in Utrecht

It is no secret that one of the reasons many people come to the Netherlands is because of the sex trade there. While Amsterdam is recognized as the hub of such activity, Utrecht, with its close proximity is also a destination for those seeking sexual thrills. While the Netherlands’ loosening up of rules and regulations regarding prostitution was meant to make it easier on the women involved, it has turned out to be quite the opposite. Also have a look at the Amsterdam Red Light District.

This has led to many cities in Holland looking to shut down red light districts. Nonetheless, they are still around. In Utrecht there are basically two Red Light Districts and they are Hardebollenstraat and Zandpad.

For a time the Zandpad was by far the largest, consisting of somewhere between 35 and 40 houseboats from which the prostitutes hawked their wares, so to speak. However, as of this writing they have been closed down by the city’s mayor and it is unknown if they will ever open again.

TIP: Best hotels in Utrecht (near RLD)

Likewise, Hardebollenstraat has also been closed down. This has resulted in many of the prostitutes now conducting their business from their homes. However, in regards to Zandpad, several have asked the city to take over the houseboats and rent them back to them so they can go about their business.

The reasoning behind the city’s shutdown of these districts is that they believe human trafficking was taking place there. The mayor of Utrecht has said that he will be trying to come up with some sort of compromise solution that will result in more safety for the women involved in this trade. Part of this may involve finding a different location for the brothels.

Meanwhile, many of the prostitutes who worked in the red light districts are attempting to form some kind of cooperative, hoping this will enable them to get the boats back in Zandpad. So far they have been unsuccessful in their efforts.

So, for the most part the red light district in Utrecht is no more. For those looking for sexual activity while visiting Utrecht they will have to go a more discreet route. Whether Utrecht’s red light districts ever open again or simply are allowed to sprout up elsewhere in the city, well…that remains to be seen.

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