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New museum in Amsterdam sheds light on Red Light District
Are married men the main customers? No, you can't generalize, Stakelborough says. Men of all types, married, unmarried, young or old visit prostitutes at all hours, she says — some even on their way to work in the morning.
How do you know who's just coming to look and who wants to do business?
"Eye contact," she said.
THE PROSTITUTES THEMSELVES
Very few women who work as prostitutes ever earn more than a middle class income at best — and usually it's worse, according to Stakelborough and Van Doeveren.
Stakelborough says it's not the prettiest or youngest girls who get the most customers or earn the most. And escorts and high-end brothel prostitutes don't necessarily do better — they have fewer customers, longer sessions and lots of costs, for taxis or splitting profits with brothel owners, she said.
A window typically rents for 150 euros ($202) for a half-day. Given the standard cost of about 50 euros ($70) for a 15-minute session, their take-home pay before taxes is only 150 euros after seeing six clients, or 250 euros ($338) after eight.
Approximately 75 percent of the women are from poorer countries, often Romania or Bulgaria.
"Almost all the women who are here are here 'voluntarily', in the sense that they come knowing what they're going to do," van Doeveren says. "But you can ask yourself what their other options were."
At the end of the museum there's a wall of quotes from prostitutes.
"This job is not for the faint-hearted," wrote Eva from Holland. "I have become much harder."
"It makes me feel lonely my mother doesn't know what I do," wrote Carmen from Romania.
Visitors can write down their own sexual secrets in a mock-up confessional booth before heading back out onto the street.
If you go:
The "Red Light Secrets" Museum of Prostitution is located on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60-62 in Amsterdam. The museum is open daily from noon to midnight.
Admission cost: 7.50 euros.