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The claim goes that the red lanterns would conceal blemishes and signs of disease better than natural light.
Some believe that the term refers to red Chinese paper lanterns or the drawing of a red line around districts that were known for their association with the sex trade.
Today, prostitution is fully legal but all brothels and independent prostitutes must hold a state license to operate with the minimum legal age for prostitutes now being 21.
The authorities continue to provide protection for its sex workers in the form of 24-hour surveillance on the city streets and offering full police assistance.
As the city has grown, the original site continued to be referred to as The Wall and, because of the links with prostitution, the phrase has become a euphemism when paying for sex.
Sprawling out from the original location of the docks, De Wallen is a network of small passageways and alleys connecting the two main streets of Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Oudezijds Achterburgwal which run alongside the canals.
The way in which this quirk was gotten around lead to the rise of single cabin window ‘brothels’ and private houses.Whatever its origin, Amsterdam embraces the tradition of the red light and De Wallen area is characterised by the window brothels which still use red lights to signify their trade (as if a half-naked prostitute leaning up against the window isn’t sign enough! Blue lights are used to signify shemales and transsexuals.Despite its reputation for being the world capital of the sex industry, prostitution has only recently been legalised in modern day Amsterdam.Throughout the history of the city, including times of religious fervency and social prudence, sex in the city has always been tolerated and even ‘winked at’; the trade went on with full public knowledge but as long as it occurred in De Wallen without attracting attention the city’s residents didn’t mind.The characteristic window hookers began to appear in the early 20 century.