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The bronze sculpture — which stands on Oudekerksplein in front of the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam’s oldest church — was designed at the initiative of Mariska Majoor, of the Prostitution Information Center.

According to Majoor, herself a former prostitute, the statue is meant to show respect to the millions of people around the world who earn their money in prostitution.

The same square, bordered by pubs, coffee shops and bordellos, already sports a sculpture of a hand caressing a breast, one of several bronze and iron statues donated to the city of Amsterdam by an unknown artist.

In order to prevent vandalism, the statue is fortified with steel. Belle is perched atop a high, granite pedestal meant to deter those who engage in so-called ‘wild-peeing.’

Hours before the statue was unveiled, Mariska Majoor was physically assaulted by an elderly lady who apparently was not happy to have the statue close to her home. The woman was taken into police custody, and released after the unveiling had taken place.

www.dutchamsterdam.nl , The Netherlands