Four out of five GAS (municipal administrative sanctions) fines that the police write out in the red-light district in Ghent are dismissed, confirmed mayor Mathias De Clercq (Open VLD). While prostitution in Belgium is legal, soliciting clients is not. Acts like tapping the window, calling for clients and making sexual gestures are all prosecutable, and the prostitutes in Ghent can get fined for them.
However, in reality, 80% of all the fines that are issued by the police, are later dropped. “It is really frustrating,” said De Clercq. “Especially since the police work so hard in that neighbourhood,” he added.
“As most of the prostitutes are not domiciled in our country, we cannot collect those fines. The pimps and barkeepers cannot be punished because the court is of the opinion that punishment is only due to those who actually did something wrong, being the prostitutes,” said De Clercq.
The city council is in favour of moving the red-light district as well but does not know where to. “We will continue the exercise, but a solution will not be for any time soon,” he said.
The Brussels Times