In 1978 I was working near Brussels North Station. Every day I drove with my car to the Waterloo station from where I took the train to Brussels North. It was a very easy commute. My office was just one street farer then Red Light District just at the exit. They were usually always at the stations, but since the areas around the main stations have all been changed completely, I have no idea where they are now. Maybe Google knows.
Coming out of the station I had to go through a street in which was one window after the other, side by side, nicely decorated with red neon frames and inviting signs, not for me but for men.
The girls usually sat on red velvet chairs had a little table besides them and were busy with knitting or stitching. When I went by I could immediately see if a girl was "working" because then the wool and knitting needles or the stitching work was laying on the table and the chair was empty. After a few weeks I got so used to them and they to me that they always waved to me to say hello and I waved back with a big smile ! They worked ... I went to work although it was another kind of work, I mean mine.
It was a special atmosphere in this street, old women armed with buckets and brushes cleaned the sidewalks and steps and chatted together in this very special Brussels' dialect which unfortunately is disappearing. It wasn't dangerous at all, it was rather more folklore and friendly. Prostitution is officially allowed in Belgium if the woman does it on her free will, only pimping is punishable. Of course it has to be discrete and in special areas.
I was quite surprised how many men were already clients so early in the morning ! My work started at 9 am. One girl told me that from 7 until 9 are the best hours ! When I saw the clientele walking along the street, I thought the poor girls, what a rough work, there were no George Clooneys or Brad Pitts amongst them ! They also avoided any eye contact and head down, walked quickly to their destination.
With the time I was so used to go through that street that I found everything normal ! Suddenly I had another view on these girls. Some of them were excellent mothers and showed me pictures of their children, they did this job to offer them a good life.
Today this street and its houses don't exist anymore. The whole area around the North Station had been demolished and a business center was built which is called "Little Manhatten".
I found a picture of this street on Internet, which must have been taken at that time. Today I probably wouldn't walk so innocently through these streets ! Times have changed !
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