At the time of writing, in the first half of 2013, the answer is NO, you cannot get into trouble for visiting a prostitute in Amsterdam.
Obviously, quite separate from the legality of prostitution, it is important to note that the age of consent in The Netherlands is 16. In order to get a window in the Red Light District, however, a prostitute must be at least 18 years of age, so, it is reasonable to presume that anyone you come across in an official Red Light District window is of age. This does not apply to women you might find in other windows, particularly the windows of school buildings. By the way, if you have, like myself, hit middle-age with a resounding thud, you will find it useful to read our article “Does My Age Matter in the Amsterdam Red Light District?”
By the way, if you have, like myself, hit middle-age, you will find it useful to read our article “Does My Age Matter in the Amsterdam Red Light District?”
The exchange of money for sex between consenting adults is entirely legal anywhere in the Netherlands but that may not be the case in the future: certain politicians with a serious vendetta against the Red Light District and prostitution in general have stated on record that, if the current tactics don’t do the job of wiping it out, they will consider adopting the Swedish and Norwegian approach of criminalising the customers.
Their current tactics include closing down businesses on the claim that the owner is linked to organised crime, buying up buildings and subsidising their use for other purposes, and rezoning the district to make it ever smaller.
The Swedish and Norwegian approach is based on a rather extreme feminist interpretation that ALL prostitution is an act of abuse against the prostitute and, therefore, the customer should be arrested. This neat spin gives the impression that they are helping women but, of course, in their own grim imitation of centuries of male oppression against women, they are deciding what women can do with their own bodies and ruling out the possibility that a woman might decide that she wishes to make her living in this way.
So, what if you are visiting in the years to come, how will you know whether or not it is still legal then? Well, it is very simple: if they criminalise the customers, the Red Light District and other forms of open, above-ground prostitution will simply disappear. If you are in Amsterdam and they still have at least some windows, well, that means that the zealots did not end up having to push things quite as far as the Swedish and the Norwegians, and you can proceed with a clear conscience.
Just make sure that, when you leave, she isn’t strangled or anything.