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Red Means Stop. (NSFW)
December 6, 2008 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Red-light districts can be found worldwide. The best known one in De Wallen, Amsterdam has gone through a lot of changes recently. Other red-light districts in Europe are also in decline, with Sweden taking a completely different approach to law enforcement. [NSFW]

Soi Cowboy in Bangkok is also world famous. While Cambodia has some of the worst exploitation anywhere, Wan Chai in Hong Kong is being gentrified. Others in SE Asia include Geylang, Singapore, Angeles City, Philippines, and Chow Kit in Kuala Lumpur.

Over in India, there is Garstin bastion Road in New Delhi, Calcutta's Sonagachi, and Mumbai's Kamathipura. Some of you may remember the movie Born into Brothels, but you may not know that both a bank and a magazine were set up for India's sex workers. The problem is no better next door in Pakistan.

Moving East, Seoul, Korea has "Hooker Hill". Just across the Sea Of Japan, there's Tokyo's Kabukichō and Osaka's historic Tobita-Shinchi.

As an added bonus - Durban renamed a street in the red-light district after Mahatma Gandhi.
posted by gman (29 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, you know the recession has hit hard when the Red -light districts are cutting back. Hell, I hear even our current President is going to be out of work!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:01 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


NING closed it's red light district. too much effing around, not enough money to be made :D
posted by liza at 7:03 PM on December 6, 2008


It's not a "Red Light District" per se, but in Ho Chi Minh City Pham Ngu Lao Street has a number of "lady bars". The same applies to the Dong Khoi and Hai Ba Trung area in District 1, Tu Xuong street in District 3, and An Duong Vuong street near Chinatown. Again, not quite "Red Light Districts" but there are no shortage of bars, women on motorbikes looking to pick up men, and men-pimps offering up their women to tourists.
posted by aloneinvietnam at 7:06 PM on December 6, 2008


Ahhh, memories.

Probably the singular WTFthisisweird moment of my life was 34 years ago this month on the corner of Patpong2 and Soi CrazyHorse in Bangkok. I was doing what 20-year-old guys do in that neighborhood, and bumped into one of my high school English teachers.

Awkward.
posted by pjern at 7:22 PM on December 6, 2008 [10 favorites]


@pjern: That is hilarious! My pals and I saw one of our profs coming out of a bar - or, monkey bars as we like to call them - several years ago and never looked at him the same way again. "Awwwwkward!"
posted by aloneinvietnam at 7:27 PM on December 6, 2008


just a heads up, the NSFW on the post title does nothing for people reading the front page.
posted by qvantamon at 7:29 PM on December 6, 2008


Sadly (or not), Boston's famed Combat Zone now consists of two strip clubs and one dirty-book store a couple blocks away from them. Damn those yuppies and their high-rise condos!
posted by adamg at 7:31 PM on December 6, 2008


The last dirty book store on Pittsburgh's Liberty Avenue closed down a few months ago. It was the last remnant of the old "Libertine Avenue" red-light district that's been tranformed in the the cultural district over the last twenty-five years.
posted by octothorpe at 8:34 PM on December 6, 2008


Can someone who is more familiar with this sort of thing explain to me what the effects of red-light districts closing are vis a vis exploitation of sex workers? I don't believe for a minute that the demand's dried up- vice is infamously resilient to recession.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:55 PM on December 6, 2008


octothorpe, by last remnant of the old "Libertine Avenue" red-light district I assume you mean "except for the drag queen prostitutes that frequent Liberty after dark", right?

Yeah, it's a much nicer place, and safer, no doubt, but it's not like the place is squeaky clean.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:44 PM on December 6, 2008


Ahhh, Patpong... land of the most beautiful women I've ever seen who weren't women at all.

Seriously, when I saw they were using it as a backdrop for ANTM it was immediately clear that Amsterdam's RLD had seriously changed from what it had once been, though. That challenge was just plain *weird,* really. (And yet... not.)
posted by miss lynnster at 9:53 PM on December 6, 2008


Sweden? Criminalizing customers of a legal profession? This can't be a good path.
posted by rokusan at 11:16 PM on December 6, 2008


Ahhh, Patpong... land of the most beautiful women I've ever seen who weren't women at all.

Come with to Rio, Miss Lynnster! I promise evenings chock full of surprises.
posted by rokusan at 11:17 PM on December 6, 2008


(I'm wondering what the tags on this post will do for MeFi's search engine traffic.)
posted by rokusan at 11:18 PM on December 6, 2008


I'd think that red light districts would do better in a recession, like alcohol sales generally do. Taking the Misses out for a night on the town is probably out of question for a lot of people, but a window-girl to celebrate getting fired? I dunno. We need Freakanomics for this one.

That said, I had lunch in Itaewon yesterday. It's pretty easy to figure out where the brothels are, but the main drag is mostly American-style restaurants and Western-style clothing stores. Lo and behold, I got hit up by a surprisingly elderly prostitute. Kind of scary in a number of ways.

But it's always a lot of laughs when the South Korean government announces there are only "2,000-3,000" sex workers in the country. Mega-lulz.
posted by bardic at 11:40 PM on December 6, 2008


I'm a big fan of those John Burdett books. That Independent piece nails them absolutely. While the plots are sometimes a little far fetched, the characters and sense of place are absolutely wonderful.

His earlier fiction isn't half bad either.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:58 PM on December 6, 2008


I'd think that red light districts would do better in a recession, like alcohol sales generally do.

They might do better in terms of customers, but I would also guess there are going to be more desperate people willing to sell their arse by the hour over the next year for two, which means competition for work, which generally leads to worse pay and conditions for the workers.

There's probably, I imagine, going to be a drop-off in the number of well-off customers of the sort blogger/sex workers write about and convince us all that the life of a working girl is a jolly wheeze.

Sweden? Criminalizing customers of a legal profession? This can't be a good path.

I'm sure it will be as successful at stamping out the sex trade as criminalising dope smokers has been at eliminating drug use.
posted by rodgerd at 12:55 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sweden? Criminalizing customers of a legal profession? This can't be a good path.

I'm totally and resolutely opposed to criminalizing either sexual sales or purchase, but I don't have a problem with this approach per se. Part of the problem with the exploitation of those involved is all those people who earn a living from their efforts. They're the people responsible for the coercive and more exploitative aspects of the trade, and so criminalizing people who provide ancilliary services to a legal profession (ie, pimps, brothel keepers, etc.) is exactly how it's always been done here in the UK and strikes me as a perfectly reasonable path.

Legal tolerance zones that allowed sex workers to operate free from fear of arrest or victimization would be a pretty good idea as well, making it safer and easier for both workers and customers, and much easier to police and regulate, thereby making it much easier to keep pimps and predators out of the game.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:32 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was doing what 20-year-old guys do in that neighborhood, and bumped into one of my high school English teachers.

How much did you pay for her?
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:40 AM on December 7, 2008


I was doing what 20-year-old guys do in that neighborhood

And to add, so it's OK if you're 20, but not if you're a middle-aged schlub?

Or was it just that you were both mortified?
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:11 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


the best known...

huh? I always thought the yankee stadium of sex was hamburg's reeperbahn.
posted by krautland at 6:25 AM on December 7, 2008


@Pope Guilty: Seriously, right? I would imagine that during times of economic hardship, the sex industry will still be going on strong. In these poor southeast Asian countries, people aren't, and have not been, particularly well off any more last year than they are this year, and the sex industry seems to be a constant that won't ever go away.
posted by aloneinvietnam at 7:21 AM on December 7, 2008


Thailand used Ping Pong Diplomacy in their latest spat with Cambodia.
posted by gman at 7:43 AM on December 7, 2008


Reading about the high-end stores opening in De Wallen gave me an eerie image of the future.


Imagine a store window with a real live girl on a revolving dais. She is wearing a lace nightgown and a diamond choker. The back of the window is a flat screen showing other products and girls. A soothing male voice announces: Here at Goedkoop's, quality meets quantity! Our stunning Nu-Diamond Choker is priced at an affordable 300 Euros. Kimberly's lace nightgown by Rodger De Bris of New York is a stunning fit at only 400. Kimberly, a trained dancer and 24 year old Hungarian, is available for 150 Euros an hour. Layaway available.
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 AM on December 7, 2008


@twoleftfeet- Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

@fourcheesemac- Well, I'd have to say I was drawing a line between who I was then and who I am now. I wouldn't be there nowadays, but it's because I'm older and smarter. And yes, it was mortifying- but i had this paranoid fantasy that people back home were going to find out what I was doing over in Thailand, not realizing the awful power I now held over my former teacher.
posted by pjern at 10:20 AM on December 7, 2008


I wouldn't be there nowadays, but it's because I'm older and smarter.

You'd be at Nana Plaza instead?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:45 PM on December 7, 2008


He said older AND smarter.
posted by gman at 6:04 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Whelk says: "Layaway available." No pun intended, I'm sure.

On a related note to the OP, are German FKK clubs in the same predicament as the more widely known red-light districts in the title post?
posted by webhund at 7:53 PM on December 7, 2008


I think I've linked this article before, but it is worth a revisit as a good explaination of how the illicit human trafficing for sex system works.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:16 AM on December 30, 2008


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