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In Oudekerksplein, or the Old Church's Square, in the heart of Amsterdam’s red-light district of De Wallen, stands a bronze statue of a full-breasted woman standing in a doorway at the top of small set of steps. The statue is named Belle, and is the world’s first and only monument dedicated to sex workers.

The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world where prostitution is legal and regulated. Sex workers are required to undergo regular health checks at the government's expense, and brothel owners require to obtain health certificates before they can employ or lease rooms. In Amsterdam, De Wallen is the largest and best known red-light district. Spread over a network of alleys, the area contains approximately three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. Called “kamers", they are the most visible and typical kind of red light district sex work in Amsterdam and are a large tourist attraction.

belle-amsterdam-5

Photo credit: Shubert Ciencia/Flickr

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