Faculty Mentor

Dr. Christopher Carey

Subject Area

International Studies, Law and Justice


This analysis of Dutch prostitution and trafficking policies looks at the historical background of the current policies and at what effect they have on sex trafficking in the Netherlands. For many years the Dutch have maintained a position of tolerance (gedogen) in regards to prostitution, as long as it did not cause a large public disturbance or health issue. However in response to the globalization of a growing sex industry, and the increasing amount of sex trafficking, the Netherlands has adopted a unique harm-reduction approach by way of legalizing and regulating voluntary sex work. This follows from the idea that one cannot regulate what is forbidden. The author argues that, although the policies of legalization and regulation create safer work environments and provide rights to voluntary sex workers, the illegal underground sex industry continues to thrive. Efforts to prevent sex trafficking and prosecute traffickers are impeded by insufficient funding and law enforcement personnel, as well as inconsistent standards of regulation across municipalities. The author suggests a combination of policies that would place the responsibility on sex workers’ clients to ensure the sexual services they are receiving are legal and from a voluntary sex worker. This, along with increased funding and uniform standards, will help better regulate the Dutch sex industry.


Sex trafficking, Prostitution, Dutch Social Policy, Regulated Tolerance, Human Trafficking, Legalized Sex Work, Sex Trafficking Policy