It was the embarrassment of knowing that in one of our neighbouring countries people find it normal to put a half-naked woman in a shop window.
Like a baker displaying freshly cooked loaves, or a toy shop filling its windows with the latest fad games – each one desperate to tempt passers-by in for an impulse purchase.
Just after my friend from the Netherlands was telling me about her unusual commute, I read in the news how The Taliban have ordered all women to cover their faces in public in Afghanistan. It’s the latest restriction from the government which affects women’s rights. Other restrictions include women travelling long distances alone, receiving a secondary education and working outside healthcare and education.
It was then I realised that there is something that Amsterdam and Afghanistan have in common – they both recognise the incredible power women have over men.
The difference is that one country is choosing to make money out of it, while another decides the power is so great it has to be hidden away.
Of course we know that Amsterdam isn’t alone in its ability to get men to part with their hard-earned money by showing them a bit of flesh. There are strip clubs across the Western world and the women often talk about feeling empowered and in control. They use their bodies to their advantage, but often get criticised for it because it reinforces the harmful attitude that women’s bodies are sexual objects made to be looked at.
However, at least the women who are employed in our strip clubs have a choice. In Afghanistan life is very different if you are a woman, and one of the worst restrictions is over education. In March there was an abrupt U-turn over the reopening of girls’ secondary schools.
It is incredible to imagine a country where a woman can’t choose what she wears – no showing off that new pair of jeans, or bright summery top. The restrictions require women to either wear a burqa or a full niqab.
So, we may look at equality in the west critically for its battle with gender equality, especially when it comes to pay and position in the workplace.
However, we mustn’t forget that there are some countries that appear centuries behind us, where the main thing that is being stripped away from women is their freedom.