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In an interview with the German news site the Local, co-founder Pia Poppenreiter said the idea came to her when she was walking through the red-light district at night.“I was walking down Oranienburger Straße — I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth — it was chilly, and I saw the poor girls on the streets, and I thought, why isn’t there an app?
You might walk past a worker in one of the Red Light District’s glowing red windows and think: “What a liberal place that they can do their work in the open like this!The new app, Peppr, is similar to a dating site, but it’s for connecting prostitutes to clients.In 2002, Germany legalized prostitution, and the industry there has expanded dramatically since then.For Hella and Yvette, the benefits of decriminalisation would be significant; besides less stigma, it would mean they’d have better workers' rights, less bureaucracy and police harassment to deal with, and more financial stability.“As of 2000, the ban on brothels was lifted, but you still need a license to have one,” says Yvette, explaining the rules on brothels as they currently stand.” Or you might – arguably more likely – think they look a little bored.
It turns out that the sex industry in Amsterdam can be equally as divisive for its workers.Just like any other job, there are the good days and the bad days, and the mundane ones in between.According to Hella and Yvette, two sex workers and activists in the Amsterdam sex industry, it can be an empowering and frustrating line of work.Two years after prostitution became legal, the industry was thought to be worth .3 billion.And now a startup based out of Berlin has launched an app called Peppr, which bills itself as the “first mobile Web app for booking erotic entertainment.” Prospective clients simply list their location, acknowledge they are at least 18 years old, select a gender of choice, and they’re presented with photos and profiles of potential men or women offering to have sex for a fee.When they kindly invite me for coffee to discuss their day-to-day, we meet at PROUD, the office of the Dutch Union for Sex Workers in De Wallen, the Red Light District.