The vibrant Red Light District in Amsterdam is one of the most important, but also one of the most controversial tourist attractions in the Netherlands. On all but two small streets, women sell their bodies for sex. In the Barndesteeg and the Bloedstraat, one can find transgender or transsexual prostitutes. Men are nowhere to be found behind windows. Instead, they operate in parks, gay bars, gay clubs, chat rooms and illegal brothels.
Male prostitution is hardly discussed in the Netherlands, but it is out there – in every province, region and city. It is therefore important to raise awareness about the existence of these boys and men. During our quest to paint a picture of male prostitution in the country, we were often surprised by the helpfulness of the community even while being shocked about some of the details of the business.
Male prostitution is characterized by three major taboos. First, receiving money for sex is not generally accepted (from either male or female clients). Second, homosexuality is still stigmatized. And third, men are not “supposed” to be the victims of prostitution or sexual abuse, which often leads to their not seeking professional help when they need it (Repetur, 2011).