Recently I was on the bus going down Istedgade and noticed a large number of board signs hung on lampposts at the top end of the street close to the station. This area is the last remaining part of the Red Light district (as well as Gasværksvej) as Istedgade gradually gets cleaned up. Eight years ago it was common to see prostitutes on the street much further along towards Enghave and these days they are concentrated in a smaller area but it is still a problem. Whilst prostitution in brothels is legal in Denmark, many of the prostitutes on the street in Istedgade are trafficked or drug users but this doesn’t seem to put customers off and I am ashamed to see men who I believe should know better picking up women here.
The signs are in both English and Danish and have been in existence since last year if the hash tag #nohappyhookers is anything to go by. I have been trying to find out who is behind the signs with no luck so far but Googling them did lead to some interesting websites and forums where men who pay for sex here justify their motivation and accuse others who call them out on their choices as peddling myths about who these women are and how they are treated by their pimps. Sadly I think that the men who need to read these signs and take the message away will ignore them. Nonetheless I think it is a positive initiative if nothing else it helps raise the awareness of the negative issues surrounding prostitution in Vesterbro and perhaps will make the odd punter think twice.
If anyone reading this can point me in the direction of the organisation or people behind the signs I would be very grateful, please leave a comment below or mail me privately, you can find my contact details here.