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A prostitute not Elizabet in Amsterdam photo by Thom Lynch. With Hungarian youth unemployment at 25 percent , it's not exactly easy to find work in the land of goulash and Gabors. But if you happen to be of Roma blood, it's apparently even harder. After failing to find a job in Budapest, Elizabet decided to head west to Amsterdam — the land of opportunity for any young, attractive girl who's prepared to rent their body out to a succession of strangers.
Yesterday, VICE ran an interview with a guy who writes a blog entry every time he has sex with one of Amsterdam's prostitutes. He made it out like the city's sex workers are pulling in hundreds of Euros a session doing a job they love, but — speaking to Elizabet — it seems his experiences may have been a little unrepresentative. In her current line of work, money dominates Elizabet's entire thought process.
Elizabet normally starts her shift at around 10 in the morning and finishes at about 6PM. She tries to avoid the night shift, for fear of drunken tourists and whatever other dangers the Red Light District has to offer once the gangs are out and about, trying to hawk bags of teething powder to Australian tourists. Unlike a number of Amsterdam's sex workers, she doesn't have any protection in the form of private bodyguards or pimps, so chooses her clientele carefully.
Regardless of her admission policy, Elizabet always spends her shifts trying to score as many jobs as possible. Then they come in, I ask for their money straight away and I lock it away — I can't trust nobody. Then they take their clothes off and jump on the bed. Elizabet's workplace consists of a small lime green mattress, her grey locker and just enough space for a sink and a chair, all of it lit up by a dull green light bulb and sound-tracked with off-brand 90s Europop compilations.
The lack of anything resembling romance doesn't worry Elizabet; she told me that she's definitely not trying to be a "hired girlfriend" — a sex worker who offers the "girlfriend experience" service — and that there generally isn't enough time for small talk or sensuality anyway. I normally just look up at the clock to see when their time is up. Another prostitute, Madella — who moved to Amsterdam from Peru with her two teenage children — said she'd do whatever the client asks, as long as she gets paid.