Dutch Government to Criminalize Visits to Non-Licensed Prostitutes

The Dutch government, famous for liberalism on issues of personal morality, announced plans Friday to criminalize the visiting of prostitutes who are not officially licensed.

The Justice Ministry said the move is necessary to force better compliance with the country's legalized prostitution policy.

At the same time, authorities will compel prostitutes to be registered in a national database "before they may offer sexual services."

"There are still too many problems in the prostitution sector, including human trafficking," the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

Prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands since 2000, when a long-standing tolerance policy was formalized.

However, registration rules that are currently only followed by brothels and some large escort agencies will now be enforced for all sex workers, all the way down to "freelance" prostitutes, the ministry said.

Prostitutes will need to offer a fixed address and telephone number. Clients will be able to ask for proof of registration to avoid prosecution.

The plans follow similar moves in the city of Amsterdam, which has been cracking down on criminality and prostitution in its famed Red Light District for several years.