Addicted Streetwalkers to Become Creative Ambassadors
THE HAGUE, 30/09/08 - Eindhoven city council is creating an art project from its heroin-addicted steetwalkers. Professional designers have thought up a plan intended to train the prostitutes as creative ambassadors of the city.
Eindhoven wants to play a leading role in the design area. Design goes further than making a vase or chair. Social problems can also be tackled with it, said Christian democratic (CDA) Alderwoman Marriet Mittendorff yesterday in Trouw newspaper.
The city administration called in the help of the Design Academy in Eindhoven and the International School of Design in the German city of Cologne. The students made contact with the prostitutes to seek inspiration. Eventually, they came up with a plan to train the prostitutes in creative professions. If they participate in all kinds of workshops, they win points. They can give these to the municipality, which then gives them money and other support.
Not quite everyone understands exactly how the plan works and what it has to do with design. "In a street-walking zone, you do not immediately think of design," acknowledges Mittendorff. "Someone on the city council thought we were giving the prostitutes designer clothes. But actually design means nothing other than that you bring things back to their essence and shape them from there."
De Rode Draad, a union for prostitutes, apparently does understand the plan, saying it was enthusiastic about it. Spokeswoman Metje Blaak: "It is very good to give addicted prostitutes points instead of money." She advises steering the prostitutes in the direction of exciting professions. "Ex-prostitutes often miss the adrenaline. Make sure they have work in which they must perform, but in a healthy way."
The council youth and family committee is discussing the approach today. The alderwoman hopes to begin next month. In June 2011, she wants to close the street-walking zone.
The students made contact with the prostitutes to seek inspiration.
Eindhoven considers job training for prostitutes
Trouw reports that the Eindhoven city council asked designhttp://able2know.org/ students to develop ideas to improve the issue of prostitution within the city. The city council is now considering one of the proposed ideas, to apply a credit plan in which prostitutes receive personal coaches and earn points, which can be used to buy items, by participating in job training workshops. Prostitutes who want to change careers will also be assisted. An Eindhoven prostitution organisation is enthusiastic about the plan.
The plan will be discussed by a commission in the city council this week and the council hopes to implement it in October. A designated street prostitution zone is due to close in 2011, and it is hoped that by then the prostitutes will find other work.
Eindhoven's designated sex work zone is due to close by 2011. Amsterdam and other Dutch cities are slowly shutting down their red light districts, but Eindhoven is unusual in pioneering material incentives to tempt women into thinking about an economic alternative to prostitution. Many of the city's sex workers are also heroin addicts. The city will fund assertiveness classes to help sex workers sever ties with their pimps, as well as workshops, advice and courses on how to find new jobs.
The council is also trying out several more outlandish ideas put forward by art students from the Eindhoven Design College. Some of the "dames", as they are known locally, have already been given a makeover involving designer clothes to boost their self-confidence. Another scheme in the pipeline is the creation of a fashion label conceived by the prostitutes themselves.