Red-light district

A red-light district is a neighbourhood where there is an accumulation of prostitution and sex-oriented businesses, such as sex shops and strip clubs. Other terms for red-light district are pleasure district, mile of sin and amusement district. Streetwalking is also often a synonym for red-light districts because they are mainly associated with street prostitution of women. However, in some cities, parts of male prostitution can also be found in these specific areas. Numerous metropolises around the world have gained an international reputation as red-light districts in some districts. The name red-light district comes from the red lights that were used to identify brothels in the past. Many historic red-light districts were created and are still located in port cities in particular. The reason for this is that the sailors of the time wanted to have fun while going ashore. No wonder, after spending weeks or months exclusively with other men on board a ship. Since there were often language barriers between the locals and the sailors, the red light developed as an international sign for prostitution. With a red light above the door, sailors could easily tell where there was sex for pay and where there was not. 

One of the oldest, best known and largest red-light districts in the world is De Wallen in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In the port of Amsterdam, sex work has been legal for centuries and has been able to develop relatively freely. Window prostitution is now the most conspicuous and characteristic form of sex work in Amsterdam's red-light district. In about 300 one-room booths, sex workers here offer their services behind a window that is usually illuminated with red lights and black lights. Germany's best-known red-light district is the Reeperbahn in Hamburg St. Pauli. The railway station districts in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf are also well-known German red-light districts, where sex work is freely offered. Prostitution has been allowed in Germany since 2001, but pimping is still prohibited. Instead, there is the associated red-light milieu, especially in the red-light districts. In addition to the prostitutes themselves, the pimps, as well as the operators of brothels, strip clubs and sometimes human traffickers, drug dealers, arms dealers and fences etc. are also assigned to the red light milieu. Often, illegal crimes and gang crime still go hand in hand with the now legal sex work here.

An area in which sex work is not allowed at all or only at fixed times is called a restricted area. The justification for such an area is often the protection of minors. On the Reeperbahn, for example, sex workers are only allowed to offer their services on the street after 8 pm. In Thuringia, Bavaria, and Baden-Württemberg, for example, sex work is only allowed in places with more than 30,000 inhabitants. In many countries of the world, however, prostitution is still completely prohibited today. However, the control and implementation of the ban varies greatly. In Thailand and the Philippines, for example, prostitution is prohibited but widely tolerated. There are therefore huge and well-known red-light districts — and not only in the capital cities of Bangkok (Soi Cowboy) and Manila. Other countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, the ban on prostitution is rigorously implemented and there are no recognizable red-light districts. In places where prostitution is banned, but strip clubs are legal, there are red-light districts where such clubs are located even without open sex work. In the USA, for example, there is officially no prostitution in strip clubs, but still many red-light districts. While red-light districts are well regulated, safe and secure in some countries, they can also be some of the most dangerous places in the world. Especially when combined with poverty, drugs and violence, these neighbourhoods are an ideal breeding ground for crime and also forced prostitution.

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