Red Light District

“My time is very precious, honey. Don’t waste it.” Saying so, she slammed the door on his face and went to stand in front of the adjacent glass window. She was an escort in the Amsterdam Red Light District. Let’s not name her.

She was a young and attractive (obviously) woman from an eastern European (possibly) country. She sold sex. He was roaming around in the infamous erotic park, more out of intrigue though – a curiosity for the sex work and the kind of woman who does it. He offered to pay her 50 euros to speak for 30 minutes. Pretty much what she charges for sex! She refused. That intrigued him more. He definitely wanted to speak only to her now. He stood there, persisting. She relented. “Business is slow anyways; so whatever.”

“It may disappoint you to know that you are not the first person to make such a proposal. It almost always eventually ends in sex though.” She laughed. He smiled.

He wanted to know all about her. He was trying to develop a moral position. He asked her a volley of questions. She started speaking almost as if she had pre-empted or knew all the questions; questions that he didn’t even ask.

“Nothing can be farther from the truth that we sex workers are trafficked. It is, at least, not true for this Red Light District. See by regulating it here, you ensure safety for sex workers as well as clients. If we are in trouble with a client, we just press it – pointing toward a red buzzer-like button – and cops reach the exact place in no time. We also get regularly tested for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and have to follow guidelines around safe sex.”

“As for ‘business,’ I pay 100 euros per night for this room and on average days make more than 500 euros. From the money I make, I get to go on exotic long vacations. I also spend a lot of time reading. Life is good. Do I look exploited?!”

He looked at her with bemusement. 15 minutes into the conversation, he was out of follow-up questions. He would take her leave. “That is the usual length of a ‘session’ too,” she chuckled.

He thought about the key Kantian ethic of not treating people as an end in themselves. He was worried about the objectification of sex workers for consumption before the conversation. But post conversation, his assumption was awfully tested.


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