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European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. This paper focuses on the regulation of prostitution in the Netherlands from the twentieth century onward. It aims to provide a full description of the Dutch position on prostitution through the interpretation and explanation of current Dutch prostitution policy. This will be achieved by analyzing the legal narratives that substantiate the legal rules provided in both Dutch criminal and administrative law concerning the regulation of prostitution.
We analyze the Dutch prostitution legislation of the past, present, and future, using a newly developed analytical framework. In our analysis, we also use the legitimating grounds for application of criminal law developed by Feinberg. These grounds are also used in this paper to interpret the administrative intervention in prostitution. This paper reveals a paradox: The idea of a liberal dream goes hand-in-hand with growing repression of freedom in the Dutch prostitution sector.
Traditionally, the Netherlands is characterized as one of the most liberal countries in the world. The liberal image of the Netherlands is said to be a consequence of the seemingly tolerant attitude of the legislator, judiciary, and authorities toward controversial issues such as drug use, euthanasia, and prostitution Cohen-Almagor ; Buruma ; Spapens et al. However, when it comes to prostitution, it is doubtful whether this picture is based on reality, since it is now well established, from a variety of studies, that characterization of Dutch prostitution policy as laissez-faire is too simplistic.
An explanation for this misunderstanding is that, from a legal research perspective, the regulation of prostitution in the Netherlands has been largely neglected. Although several authors have published papers about prostitution in a Dutch context, a literature review reveals that the vast majority of these studies have analyzed prostitution from a sociological, criminological, political science, or gender studies perspective.
Furthermore, Wagenaar and Altink argued that prostitution policy is less developed than more established policy domains, such as health, education, social welfare, or the environment and suggested some conditions to prevent prostitution policy from entering the realm of morality politics and to arrive at an effective and humane form of policymaking Wagenaar and Altink In , she discussed the changes in prostitution policy in the Netherlands by examining the policy discourse frames of the major actors in the prostitution debates Outshoorn As far as we know, Brants is one of the few legal scholars who has published a more legally orientated research paper on the regulation of prostitution in an international non-Dutch academic journal Brants She examined the possible consequences of the intended legalization of commercial prostitution in , after being tolerated for decades.