Designing prostitution policy is a complicated affair. A necessary condition for a humane prostitution policy is that the subjects who are affected by policy are being heard. In the case of Amsterdam it would be self-evident to turn to the Red Thread. But the Amsterdam mayor and his alderman Asscher, however found a better solution. [I]Lodewijk Asscher was the socialist politician who advocated the closing of the windows in Amsterdam in 2007.

The book: Behind the windows

The book: Behind the windows

They considered a bestseller that was published in 2012 the ultimate source of information about the position of sex workers. This bestseller was written by an anonymous sex worker – who called herself Patricia Perquin- who in this book (unfairly) criticized the Red Thread. The author also gave a lot of ‘true to life’ details about the life on the game. The mayor and the alderman Asscher – the later minister of Social Affairs- were so taken by this book that they gave the author an official job as a policy advisor. The mayor, Eberhard van der Laan went as far as advertising this book during a speech to the Senate. Nobody knew who she was, she was kept apart from other actors in the field. The Red Thread nor the other sex workers were asked for feedback on her mysterious policy advices. The book insulted migrant sex workers and the sex workers organized in the Red Thread could not react to the accusations.

The book also contained many inconsistencies which were pointed out in a document – a reading report- The Red Thread – disseminated. This was not to the liking of both the mayor and the alderman. The manager of the Red Thread had to answer for this in person and was seriously told off. The Red Thread was expected to apologize to this Patricia Perquin, who still remained anonymous. It was also announced that the Red Thread would lose its funding.

Thanks to investigative journalist of the prestigious national newspaper The Volkskrant the true identity of this Patricia Perquin was revealed. [II]March 9, 2013She was a woman called Valérie Lempereur, a journalist from Belgium where she had earned herself a bad reputation. She was an imposter and did not work as a sex worker at all, hence the inconsistencies in the book. It was quite embarrassing for the mayor and his alderman. All this could have been avoided if they had taken people who were in the know seriously. A classic case of fact resistance.

Now it was the Red Thread’s turn to demand apologies, which were not given. Quite the contrary. The spokesperson of the alderman Asscher reacted in the Volkskrant (March 9 2013):

But Asscher realized that there was a possibility that he would not learn the full truth when he was contacting the people in this world.

So he was referring to the old prejudice of sex workers as a bunch of liars.


I Lodewijk Asscher was the socialist politician who advocated the closing of the windows in Amsterdam in 2007.
II March 9, 2013