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Yesterday, a Dutch website called Ugly Mugs NL was launched — which will hopefully elevate the security of sex workers in the Netherlands to the next level.
The Netherlands is a forerunner of legalised prostitution in the EU. With open attitudes toward sexuality and the famous Red Light District openly celebrating sex and prostitution, it might come (pun intended!) as quite the surprise that it has taken such a tech-savvy nation this long to develop an online platform that increases the safety of Dutch sex workers.
But it’s here now and this is how it works.
This online platform offers free sign up for sex workers who can check if their client-in-waiting has been aggressive or violent towards any of their colleagues. If this is the case, it allows them to reject their services.
Sex workers can also report violence they experience and receive alerts if a dangerous client is in their neighbourhood.
Ugly Mugs NL was a joint venture by Soa Aids Nederland and Proud, the interest group for sex workers in the Netherlands. The platform was developed at the request of sex workers on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Security.
The fact that this platform was requested by sex workers shows that this profession, although legal and protected in the Netherlands, is not safe nor treated like other professions.
It remains one of the most violent and dangerous professions especially for women, leaving sex workers extremely vulnerable both physically and because of societal stigmas.
With this in mind, the platform further aims to challenge these stereotypes by making its users feel more at ease while working. The slogan for this platform is “Together, we make sex work safer.”