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Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal and regulated. In the last few years, a significant number of brothels and "windows" have been closed because of suspected criminal activity.
De Wallen, the largest and best-known red-light district in Amsterdam, is a destination for international sex tourism.
An article published in 1997 in the International Encyclopedia of Sexuality claimed that the total number of prostitutes in the Netherlands was about 15,000 to 20,000.
Around 90% of sex workers are estimated to be female, 5% male and 5% transgender.
As with other countries, estimates regarding the total number of prostitutes vary.
No more than one third were Dutch nationals, the remainder representing 44 nationalities.
The majority were from the Dominican Republic, Colombia, the Czech Republic and Poland.
An article written by Marie-Victoire Louis in Le Monde diplomatique in 1997, claimed that 80% of prostitutes in Amsterdam were foreigners and 70% had no immigration papers (but did not quote the source).
In 2008, Karina Schaapman, a former prostitute and former member of the Amsterdam city council, produced a report about the Amsterdam sex trade.
In the 1970s, the majority of foreign prostitutes were from Thailand, in the 1980s from Latin America and the Caribbean.After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many prostitutes came from Central and Eastern Europe.