Tuesday, February 28, 2006
I’ve found a possible solution for the copyright-problem:
I’ve informed myself about blogs and copyrights cause so many bloggers copy and paste news-articles onto their blogs. I'm very scared now because of the attack by Ruth Hopkins (I copied and translated two of her articles on my blog, she didn't like that at all and asked me to remove them) .
It seems that copying is okay unless you don’t copy the ‘whole’ article. But you can copy snippets of it and add your comment to it. That’s called “fair use”. That's what I'll do.
I especially like these two tips I once found somewhere on a blog but which have now disappeared:
2. Don't just copy someone else's stuff, even if it is funny, cool or interesting, without having some new point or comment or criticism of your own. Copying because you like something is not fair use. Copying because you want to comment or engage with something is more likely to be fair.
4. Acknowledge your sources if you do copy, and link to them. Some countries have things called 'moral rights' - rights to be attributed as an author of a work. Also, in some countries, if you are relying on a 'fair use' type defense, you will need to acknowledge the source, even if your purpose is criticism/review or reporting news. It is also more likely your act will be considered 'fair' if you identify your source.
Anyway, I saw on one site it says this:
This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
I LIKE IT!!!!!
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Monday, February 27, 2006
Sorry guys, but something terrible has happened. I actually received an email from Ruth Hopkins. I had some articles from her on my blog (“Slave trade on de Wallen”, and “the prostitution cycle). That’s illegal, and she asked me to remove these articles.
And because 95% of what’s on my blog are copied newspaper-articles, that means that the whole objective of my blog is gone, namely: to inform the world about what’s going on in the Netherlands concerning prostitution, because so much information is in Dutch and inaccessible to the rest of the world. It seems that copying and translating articles is against the law.
At this moment I’m in sort of a crisis situation. I’m thinking about closing down this blog.
I’m very sorry.
a lonely crusader........
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Sunday, February 26, 2006
Interesting article about a book by Ruth Hopkins, “Ik laat je nooit meer gaan” (or “I never let you go”). What’s interesting in this article is a quote by Willem Heemskerk of het Scharlaken Koord, a Christian aid-organisation who help prostitutes on de Wallen. He says most prostitutes on de Wallen come from Balkan countries, he means Bulgaria, Albania and Rumania (countries from where many victims of human trafficking originate). Funny thing is I researched hookers.nl where clients describe their experiences with prostitutes. They describe app 400 prostitutes on de Wallen. From this I conclude that only a few prostitutes on de Wallen come from countries like Bulgaria, Rumania, Albania or the former Yugoslavia. It’s strange that het Scharlaken Koord sees something completely different. However, now I think about it, according to Toos Heemskerk (Willem Heemskerk's wife) 40% of the prostitutes on de Wallen is Dutch (she said in a television interview with Andries Knevel in 2003 that "60 percent" of the prostitutes on de Wallen are foreign).
Slave trade on de Wallen
A top attraction build on oppression
The prostitution cycle
By Herman Veenhof
October 29, 2005
“You can’t rehabilitate these sort of women”, says Mario in Tirana. He talks about three girls who were in prostitution, were sent back to the Albanian capitol and ended up in an aid-course. They got an apartment and a job, but no freedom. Going back home was no option, there was no future in their own country. And Europe is still making eyes. Trafficking in women in the Netherlands, five years after prostitute became legal.
Mario is an unpretentious pimp. He has a bar, he creates visas on the computer, he knows the officials who guarantee his little kingdom in Albania in exchange for cash. Mario is not one of the worst. Petraq is more brutal. He rapes girls whom he kidnaps or lures away, so they’ll know how their future profession works.
Petraq is more violent, but also more powerful. He is higher in the criminal hierarchy, drives around in beautiful cars and supervises his women on the spot in the whore-business of the European capitol cities. He’s also in drugs. Within his clan a couple of members lead a legal existence; they launder large amounts of money in normal companies, with the help of normal European citizens. When Petraq is caught and prosecuted, he will only be in jail for a couple of months; then he’ll moves his activity to another country within the European Union.
Supply and demand
In those countries of the European Union politicians and rulers denounce the trafficking in women. ‘It is modern slavery, intolerable, absolute priority!’. They organize working parties, commissions, centres of expertise, safe houses. That home circus networks with the international manifestation of this, represented by foreign specialists in contact with suffering, who in the countries where the women are recruited, drive around in white jeeps and live, work and earn money in accordance with Western norms.
The circus evolves around the woman who seeks improvement of her lot, is sometimes naive, but more often enter prostitution consciously. Especially from the Balkans women leave in their thousands to Europe to earn good money, in prostitution if necessary.
If it comes to free choice, that should work in the Netherlands in theory. Prostitution is legal since 2000, the tax department and labour-inspection are ready to properly administrate income and procedures.
The internal borders of Europe are gone. There should have been a middleclass of self-confident whores from Central Europe. They are the supply, inevitable by the demand of horny men of all kinds of languages and nations. Every city-centre will get their Flesh-market back, legal, clean, transparent, well-regulated and sufficiently protected.
But somewhere something has gone wrong. Nothing is clean and transparent. Trafficking in women and prostitution generate roughly a billion euros a year, in the Netherlands. In our country work some thirty-thousand whores, of whom the large majority are from outside the EU and illegal [sic, many countries have joined the EU early 2004, countries like Poland and Latvia. The women from these countries now can work as independent contractors]. Willem Heemskerk (together with his wife Toos active within the Christian aid-organisation Het Scharlaken Koord): “Last week we visited 327 whores on the Wallen. Only eighteen of them were Dutch; the large majority comes from countries around the Balkans and are terrified, by pimps and clients.”
The prostitutes came in three waves: From Southern Asia in the seventies, from Central- and South America in the eighties, from the Balkans and Russia in the nineties. Prostitution has become migrant-labour. The Dutch women give up their profession or work across the border, where the inspection-troops of Zalm have less supervision. [Zalm is the Dutch minister of financial affairs]
The atmosphere has hardened enormously. Thanks to ‘Schengen’ prostitutes circulate faster and more often, so they will be more dependant on the pimp and the criminal organisation. The scarce aid which aims at assisting the women in their work situation, reaches the target group more difficultly. The circulation and the increased violence make it more difficult to build a relationship based on trust. [Know the Schengen-treaty? Schengen countries have no mutual border-controls.]
Lengthy investigations, which in the early nineties led to clear results, are replaced by the dictatorship of the ‘short blow’. The police and the judiciary have to score, politics believes, who feels the hot breath of the unsatisfied civilian down its neck. The prostitutes are caught and routed in cleanup-operations. They, the victims, are punished. The traffickers usually are kept out of range.
Hardly any reports are made against them. The government has nothing to offer for prostitutes. Formally there’s a B9-arrangement, where the women who report the crime get a residence-permit during the time of the investigation and the lawsuit against the trafficker.
But often the report of the crime turns out to be too thin, the woman is not protected and then the vengeance remains of the criminal exploiter. Of the more than four-hundred cases where the Foundation against Trafficking in Women set its eyes on, only sixty became eligible for the B9-arrangement. Only some individuals made it towards a residence-permit. Nearly all women are expelled.
Even on de Wallen, the most decent and touristy ‘red light district’ in the Netherlands, the mafia rules. The Turkish-German has just been routed (and in full operation again in Utrecht and Antwerpen), then the vacuum is refilled by Albanians, who for a moment were gone since that cleanup-operation.
Trafficking in women is large-scale and big business. During the past five years in the Balkan countries and Russia alone 200.000 people have been trafficked. Of these modern slaves one fifth is minor, in the Netherlands ten thousand children work illegally, a thousand have been sold from their home country. All numbers are estimates. Only a fraction of those numbers are visible for the judiciary and even fewer of those cases are investigated until solved.
Silda lives in Albania again. She has a job, accommodation and is even online. She also has a son of three. The father is an Afghan, typically a man who started lovingly but became more violent. Three times he resurfaced in Albania, to take her with him. He’s only one of the men who want to make money with Silda.
Petraq kidnapped her nine years ago. She was fourteen then. From her mountain village she went straight by car to the coastal city of Vlora, in a speedboat to Italy and on the streets in Florence. Within three years she got to know the whole of Europe. The Boulevard Jacqmain in Brussel-Schaarbeek, de Theemsweg in Amsterdam, het Zandpad in Utrecht. Fifty guilders [app. 20 euros] for oral and normal sex, ten clients a day, seven days a week, that’s how she started. All the money went to her pimps. Even her food she couldn’t buy herself.
For habitation there was a small flat in Amsterdam, for an exorbitant price by the Dutch pawnbroker. He knew of her situation, but sees himself as a landlord. In January 2001 the police arrested her, as an illegal alien. She went to the alien detention centre in Zwolle. Petraq arranged a birth certificate in Albania, so he could receive her and put her to work somewhere else.
But in April Silda was released due to procedural errors. On May the 17th she escaped from Petraq, with her little son Fabio and his father. When he also turned out to be a violent pimp, she went into hiding with nuns in Brabant. In February 2003 she was deported after all.
Back home in Albania it was unbearable, because of the disgrace, the threats of the Mafiosi and the depressing poverty. She didn’t find relief with the relief program offered by the International organisation for Migration. A shared apartment and working in a bakery, she didn’t think much of it. She refused a damaged destiny a an ex-victim.
She knew there was more money in Europe, despite how perverted that work was. In 2004 she returned ‘voluntarily’ to prostitution. It turned out commuting to Athens, where she worked for less severe pimps in hotels.
Also the Greek police arrested her. She was the victim of human trafficking, but in the EU she especially was an illegal immigrant. Not trafficking in women was the criterion for government interference, but the wish to give Fort Europe an image as a ‘fortress’.
Now Silda lives in Albania again, leering at possibilities for leaving the country. But what she really wants, is a life in her own country with an income which offers her independence, which is modest if not impossible. The fifty euros per month which she can earn in the Italian shoe-factory in Albania are insufficient to make a living even in that country.
The factory isn’t in Albania without reason. The labour is very cheap, the shoes are beautiful, soft and supple. Real brothel-shoes. [=‘bordeelsluipers’, a Dutch word with no English alternative.]
This article was made based on a conversation with Ruth Hopkins, author of the book “Ik laat je nooit meer gaan. Het meisjes, de vrouw, de handelaar en de agent (De Geus, Breda 2005. 257 pages, 19,90 euro”. Hopkins (32) is an international jurist and journalist. She cooperated with a research by the European Union which in 2003 compared human trafficking, legislation and practice in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. She followed two women for years, an Albanian and a Bulgarian, who as teenagers were sold and kidnapped and fell between the stools of exploitation and aid.
Hopkins reconstructed how it keeps on going wrong in countries where the legislation is well-organized, but who keep viewing the victims of trafficking in women as illegal immigrants. The residence-status gives them little hope, also because they cannot substantiate their recent history because of posttraumatic stress and dissociation. That’s why reports concerning trafficking in women are often true, but still useless. Then deportation is the unavoidable outcome.
Slave trade on de Wallen
A top attraction build on oppression
The prostitution cycle
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Saturday, February 25, 2006
Hey, I have found a new report [in Dutch] and I am happy to have found this, although it’s outdated. I’m happy because this report gives me some answers to some important questions. It has always struck me for instance that so many Eastern European prostitutes come from Poland and the Czech Republic while if you look on the lists of nationalities of the Foundation against Trafficking Women you see only a few Polish and Czech girls. It therefore concluded that Polish and Czech prostitutes are rarely trafficked. Well, this report reveals that based on eyewitness reports, also many Polish and Czech women are trafficked. This reports also says that probably nearly all African prostitutes in the Netherlands are trafficked (like Tom Marfo says).
I also find this report so interesting because it actually depicts how many prostitutes actually feel about their occupation.
Oh, by the way, this is one of those reports where Bovenkerk(a.o.) referred to. He saw this report together with another report as evidence that pimping and human trafficking rarely occurs in sex-clubs and in the escort. I hope he is right, because as a matter of fact the police do actually find many victims of human trafficking in clubs, the number is comparable to those found in window-prostitution while 2 to 3 times as many prostitutes work in clubs compared to window-prostitution.
Gosh, this report is sooooo interesting. Too bad, I’m also lazy. But what’s interesting in this report is that brothel managers are complaining they can’t find girls for their brothels, especially Dutch women!!!! Even the researchers encountered view Dutch women in clubs during their fieldwork. Well, that’s funny, cause I’ve analyzed hookers.nl in which clients describe their experiences with prostitutes. Very often the women tell them where they come from. It turns out that many prostitutes in the clubs and ‘privé-huizen’ are Dutch!!!![app 50 percent] The prostitutes described on hookers.nl look very different from the grim picture of prostitutes described in this report!! This is still a mystery to me.Here are some excerpts of this report.
Illegality, involuntariness, minority in prostitution one year after the ban on brothels has been lifted.
(in Dutch:'Illegaliteit, onvrijwilligheid en minderjarigheid in de prostitutie een jaar na de opheffing van het bordeelverbod')
Drs. [~M.A] Marjolein Goderie
Dr. [~Ph. D] Frans Spierings
Drs. Sandra ter Woerds
Verwey-Jonker Instituut/WODC, ministry of Justice
Utrecht / The Hague
[about prostitution in Groningen]
Women without a MVV [‘Machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf’=authorization to acquire temporary residence] are not allowed to work in prostitution. After settlement in the Netherland, a MVV acquired in a foreign country will be transformed into a residence permit. To women who want to work in prostitution no MVV’s are issued. It is possible for women from association-countries [like, at this moment: Bulgaria and Rumania] who want to work as independent contractors when all requirements are fulfilled. This is not the case for anyone who works under a labour relationship [that means, that there is a employer-employee relationship between a prostitute and a manager]. Also those who have a an application for residence running are not allowed to work during that period.
How the prostitutes deal with these possibilities can be illustrated using the stories of six window-prostitutes. One of the respondents, a 23-year-old prostitute from former Yugoslavia who has resided in the Netherlands for five years, doesn’t work temporarily, because she’s waiting for a residence permit. She has signed up at the Kamer van Koophandel [Chamber of Commerce] and want to work as an independent contractor. She chooses the safe path and doesn’t work temporarily while she awaits the VTV-procedure [“Vergunning Tot Verblijf” = residence permit]. Therefore she has lived for three years with somebody who has a Dutch residence permit so she could work legally. The chance her request is granted will be large, she estimates herself.
Another respondent is 21 years old and originates from Russia. She came to the Netherlands with a visa for three months, a tourist visa. After arrival she went to the police and she was given a stamp on her passport and it allowed her to work, she told. She is part of a group of women under the VTV-procedure, but with little chance of actual residence in the Netherlands based on this procedure. She tells that she has paid via a [window-]landlord for a lawyer who in her name has instituted a procedure to acquire a residence permit. Meanwhile she is between four and five months in the Netherlands which means her visa has expired.
Furthermore we spoke with two Bulgarian girls, both 21 years old who travelled back and forth between Bulgaria and the Netherlands, and who extend their visa in the meantime. In the Netherlands they go to the police and get a stamp in their passport. Then they go to a lawyer. Then you have ‘some kind of case’[in English], one of them tells. They are convinced that with ‘these papers’ (they mean a note from their lawyer) in their pockets they can work, that is they will not be expelled by the police.
The stories of these three girls are very similar. Furthermore we got the impression that at the beginning of the interview they told a story as if they had been instructed in advance. A sort of list with standard-information they are considered to give when somebody asks them something. They strikingly have the same age and all three tell about their plans in the Netherlands. Two of them would like to study. They’d heard that in Groningen there was a good university and name this as a reason for coming to Groningen. One of them has a prospectus lying under her stool which she brings out immediately at the introduction of the cause of our conversation. The other would like to learn something with computers and then find a job.
We also spoke with two Bulgarian prostitutes, of 19 and 25 years old, who recently stepped to the police, because they didn’t want to work for their pimps anymore. They were unsatisfied because they had to hand over too much money and the pimps made too much demands concerning the number of hours to work and not being allowed to sit on a stool. They were also beaten by their pimp. In the end they didn’t want to report the crime because of fear of reprisals. They are convinced that when the police will take steps there will be taken revenge against their child and family in Bulgaria. Nevertheless they now work behind the windows to support themselves, with the knowledge of the police.
In window-prostitution in Groningen work a lot of women from Eastern Europe: the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary and Russia. The most common procedure for them is as followed: They come here with a visa for a couple of months, mostly a visa for three months, report to the police and call in a lawyer. Then they are in a procedure to acquire a VTV and then can work behind one of the windows. Or rather, the procedure offers them protection against deportation and in the meantime they work. Since July 15, 2001 one can only rent to EU-subjects. That led early 2002 to the closure of a large number of premises where window-prostitution took place and the disappearance of a large part of the non-European women behind the windows.
Aside from the group of Eastern European women there also work women from the EU, Germany for example, and also from South America and Africa. The impression by the informants is that women from the last two mentioned continents [South America and Africa] have a residence permit at their disposal via partners, whether or not via marriages of convenience or affairs of convenience. A Croatian woman said with respect to that: “That love-situation is obviously a fake-situation. Obviously everybody knows.” The South American women have a tight-knit network and have been in the Netherlands for a longer period. They help each other, take care of each other and it seems that for them illegality does occur rarely.
The group of Bulgarians in Groningen seems a reasonably stable factor. During a period of a couple of years the group is present within window-prostitution in Groningen. According to one of the interviewees 75 percent of the girls behind the windows came from Bulgaria during the interview in November 2001. They mean the group of Bulgarian prostitutes, often in the presence of Bulgarian men. They largely originate from the same village or region in Bulgaria. They are often associated with ‘problems’ in which one refers to groups of Bulgarians who engage in human trafficking, people smuggling and other types of criminality. The presence of these men on street is perceived as threatening. In the assessment of the interviewees there are mostly young girls concerned who are controlled by ‘pimps’ or ‘errand-boys’.
Working with a pimp is associated with working under strain. An indication for that is that many Bulgarian girls are not allowed to sit on a chair when they are at work. Their pimp tells them to dance to attract clients. Also many have the impression that girls who work for pimps work long days. Another indication is that they don’t want to borrow mobile phones to others. The only person with whom it is allowed to call, is the pimp. Bulgarian girls are instructed not to have too much contact with the other women. A Russian woman tells that a Bulgarian woman next door is far less eager to offer help when necessary. The Bulgarian women isolate themselves from the other women. The women also indicate that pimps use violence against the women. The pimps i.e. errand-boys often already know the girls from the country of origin. There are connections between pimps and the place where the girls come from. The pimps explain how to work, what to do, how long etc. First they promise that the profits from prostitution will be largely for the girls themselves, but in reality they don’t live up to expectations. The researchers noticed that, during street-walks, there was a man walking around who dropped in on the windows and collected money with a notebook in his hand. A number of interviewees suspect that pimps are concerned here, but then in the form of errand-boys behind which there’s an organisation of some large criminals. There is talk of Yugoslav and Bulgarian criminal networks. The nature of pimping is changing, say multiple respondents. This is really something which has changed during the past year. With foreign women there is a chain of traffickers. One prostitute: “The real pimp is far away. Outside of the Netherlands. The police can’t catch him.”
When we ask the prostitutes if they sometimes have to deal with annoying, aggressive clients they tell that on street there are certain men walking around, who help the women in certain cases. They are nice men who also pay taxes, they tell us reassuring.
The interviewed women all indicate that the work is their own choice. They work for the money with which they can do things at home in Russia, Bulgaria or elsewhere. Sometimes they have plans to study or work in the Netherlands. Already in the country of origin, through friends or acquaintances they have heard about this possibility in Groningen. These acquaintances have been in a foreign country and came back with beautiful stuff and it was clear that they made good money. For many women it seems that they entered into some kind of ‘deal’. They want to travel, want to leave the country where they live and where they make little money. Their behaviour seems to be led by opportunism.
There are windows for rent for more than 400 euros a week. Also there were talks of prices for 250 guilders [???, app 100 euros, but they probably mean 250 euros] a day. Taking into account that the women charge 60 euros per half hour, they’ll need a considerable number of clients to generate the earnings just to pay they rent.
There are indications that children are at work in window-prostitution in Groningen. Multiple respondents tell they have the suspicion that they are girls younger than 18. An aid-worker encountered a girl who she estimated to be 16 years old. It cannot be proven that they are minor. It remains a suspicion. The documents tell otherwise and also the girls themselves say they are of age. Aside from that, we also established that there are many young looking girls working there, especially in the Muurstraat and the Hoekstraat. Some we estimate to be around 18 years, others look much younger (no older than 15, 16 years).
Tippelzone in Groningen
[Tippelzone=tolerance zone for streetprostitutes]
We spoke three women, all three Dutch of whom one was of foreign descent. Furthermore the GGD [sort of public health service], the coordinator of the ‘living room’-project and the police show us some insights in the situation on the Bornholmstraat. Many Dutch women work on the zone. The GGD estimates the percentage of drug addicts to be 96 percent. According to the coordinator of the ‘living room’-project there worked from the beginning on a very small group of foreign women of varying origins on the tippelzone, but it concerns no more than ten women. Since the lifting of the ban on brothels this hasn’t changed.
One of the women is annoyed by the Polish women or women from another Eastern European country, who appear on the zone since two years. The women aren’t addicted, but have a pimp and often are younger than 18 years according to her. They keep their distance from the rest on the zone and regularly call to their pimp [by mobile phone]. The presence of these women goes in waves. The female ‘living room’-workers tell about a small group of Bulgarian women who were here a while ago, of whom one still worked during our research. We didn’t get the chance to talk to her. We encountered a Russian woman on the tippelzone whom we have spoken for a short while. Unfortunately she didn’t turn up for an appointment for a talk.
Tippelzone in Rotterdam
On the Keileweg we have interviewed 22 women. They had the following nationalities: Ecuadorian (2), Peruvian (1), Rumanian (2), Dutch (11, of whom one was of Moroccan descent and three Surinamese), British (1), Montenegrin (1), Belgian (1), German (1). They are all older than 18 years, varying from just having become 18 on the tippelzone to 42 years. Six of the interviewees are transsexual or work a as transvestite.
For the EU-subjects the residence permit is not a problem. They are allowed to work in prostitution. One of the Rumanians has a visa at her disposal, but she’s not allowed to work in the Netherlands. The other Rumanian is in an asylum-procedure. She is also not allowed to work in prostitution. The Ecuadorian, a transsexual, has been expelled multiple times. She is in a procedure for a residence permit via a lawyer. This way she assumes herself that a successful appeal can be made on her homosexuality/transsexuality. The other Ecuadorean doesn’t have a residence permit. The Peruvian says she is legal in the Netherlands, because she lives together with a friend with Dutch citizenship. The Montenegrin doesn’t have a residence permit and therefore no work permit.
Many of the women tell stories about the condition that they started working via a boyfriend. These are mainly the Dutch women. None of the interviewees say they now work for somebody. They work ‘for themselves’. It is certainly ‘not done’ to have a pimp. One is looking down on that. “And those who work for a boyfriend, mostly do that of their own free will”, according to a Dutch woman.
The transsexuals work in prostitution to make money for themselves, sometimes also to pay for a sex-operation or simply to make a living. They see the work on the zone as the only way to make money as an illegal alien in the Netherlands. One of the Ecuadorians only dressed as a transvestite, because that’s the only way to make money. Previously he worked in bars in Amsterdam. After the license-system was introduced in Amsterdam he couldn’t go to work in official bars, because the risk of being caught became too large. He then worked for a short period as a transvestite behind the window of a girlfriend in Amsterdam, but that caused a risk for the girlfriend who worked fully legal. He now works in Rotterdam, because that’s almost the only place for him to make money, so he tells.
From time to time, depending on the intensity of police-controls, buses with Polish and other Eastern European women are dropped on the zone. Those women are sharply monitored by certain persons. They rarely come in the ‘living-room’. From stories of a number of respondents it can be deducted that for these Eastern European women there are signals of human trafficking. One of the male prostitutes tells that Eastern European are monitored by men at the entrance of the tippelzone. Recently he had spoken with a Rumanian woman who ran into the ‘living-room’ completely shaken, and who wanted to leave her pimp, because she was beaten by him.
During the past year there was aside from the increase in the number of South American transvestites and transsexuals also an increase in the number of women from Western Africa on the tippelzone. This was reported by aid workers as well as prostitutes. Also here you can speak of presence in waves. Aid workers suspect that they don’t work completely independent, but are under pressure to pay off debts to human traffickers.
A couple of addicted women who have worked in street-prostitution for a long time, find it striking that during the past year more younger women work on the tippelzone. On the question who they are, they say the women are not personally familiar. They are mostly from Dutch and Antillean descent. They estimate their age to be around nineteen, twenty years. They come from other cities.
The prostitutes on the tippelzone in Rotterdam believe the violence by clients has increased the past years. On the one hand they blame this on the increased crowdedness on the zone (from prostitutes as well as clients) and on the other hand the changing interaction between client and prostitute. Some believe that during the past year another type of client has appeared; according to others more women work without condom which causes others to lose clientele and are put under pressure to do the same.
Privé-huis in Rotterdam[A ‘privé-huis’, literally ‘private house’ is a sex-club without a bar]
A privé-huis in the world of prostitution is not a private house, but a prostitution business. In the privé-huis we visited worked only Hungarian women. The manager was – unjustly - convinced that he had legal working ladies in his company, because Hungary wasn’t a country with visa requirement and the women were allowed to stay here for three months. After this, they return to Hungary and come back if they want to and when they want to. He didn’t understand our surprise: the police is a regular visitor and check the place. This manager doesn’t seem to realise that he is working with illegal women. At the moment we were there, around seven prostitutes were present. The atmosphere between the manager and the employees was pleasant. With two of the prostitutes we spoke extensively, because they were the only ones who could speak English.
The case of Flora
Flora is a Hungarian. She tells she is 21 years old, but looks younger. At the time of the interview, she has worked for ten days in the Netherlands. Before she came to the Netherlands, she worked in Italy in a discotheque as a topless dancer. The work in Italy was very restless, then one month here, then one month their. She also had to repeatedly leave the country in between, back to Hungary. Moving back and forth all the time costs a lot of money. Together with a girlfriend who had worked here already, she came to the Netherlands.
Before she came working in Italy, she has worked for two weeks in Berlin. There she had to work without a condom. Too dangerous, she believed. Then she worked in Spain for a while. But there were so many prostitutes she made little money.
On the question how she knew where to find work, she tells about her impresario. Then he helped her find work in Italy. Therefore she had to pay him a week-salary. She finds that very normal. He keeps up all the data, she says, he lets her know when there’s money again. She doesn’t pay him anymore now.
She works to make money for her family, for her own livelihood and she tries to save money for the future. In Hungary there’s insufficient employment. The prices are comparable to those in the Netherlands according to her, except those of houses and public utilities. And that while the middleclass make 600 guilders [or do they mean euros?] per month.
She has many concerns about her work. Must she actually do this work? What kind of work should she do else? Although her boss is nice and good for her – she means the manager of the privé-huis – she wonders if it is really necessary to do this work. She tells her mother and friends that she dances and works in a restaurant. She finds the work mentally difficult. Sometimes she has to cry because of this. She thinks about Hawaii during her works, laughs satisfactorily towards a client and thinks about the sun and the waves.
Both Hungarian women originally ended up in prostitution in Italy via a human trafficker. They call this an impresario. The impresario of the other Hungarian first brought her to Mexico, where she was forced to work for six weeks while being locked in a basement. Nowadays both women work without a pimp.
The manager keeps out pimps who step by with girls. This happens multiple times a week. He has had some nasty experiences with this in the past. Brothel-owners, so he says, want peace and quietness in the place and therefore don’t want to do business with pimps. We came unannounced and we as researches, a man an woman together, were put through a solid examination before we were allowed to sit in the kitchen to talk. It turned out that this was to determine if there was a situation of a pimp who wanted to present his girl.
Massage parlour in Rotterdam
We spoke with a (female) manager of a Thai massage parlour and with two women who worked there.
It is a licensed business, where social workers and police step visit regularly. All women work there legally. They have a residence permit, usually via a marriage with a Dutchman. The owner tells that she gets her personnel indirectly. It is a Thai circuit, she explains, indirectly you get your personnel and indirectly you’ll hear you can work somewhere. It is difficult for Thai women to find a job. Some women don’t speak Dutch and that decreases their chances for a job. They often have family in Thailand who need money. Therefore some women ‘choose’ to work in an erotic massage parlour, so says the manager. At this moment three women aged 29, 33 and 43 work in the parlour. Also on the same day there’s a woman who comes to inform about work.
In the past the women not always had the right documents, but since the new law the manager doesn’t take risk anymore. She only works with persons who are legal. That sometimes results in having too few personnel. This happens more often now. Then she has to send away clients.
She has asked for help with applying for the license and believes the amendment of the law is difficult. She has to know everything, keep updated, renovate (interior of the building). She told the prostitutes that from now on, they get half of what the clients pays. The women pay the VAT themselves and they rent a room at her place. When she tells how things are working in her business, it turns out that it is not only massage, but the same activities as for instance in a club.
The two women we spoke with, worked on their own free will, so they said. But they did it to make money and to send it home. Because of their lack of Dutch they shouldn’t be able to do other work.
One of them has been in the Netherlands for four years now. She is married to a Dutchman she met in Thailand. Previously she had worked in a factory and in a hotel. When she became ill she stopped doing that work. She became a housewife for a while, but she became bored and also needed money for her family in Thailand.
The other one has also been in the Netherlands for four years. She came to the Netherlands to visit family members. Then she met somebody in a discotheque, whom she is now married to. At first she worked as a cleaning woman, but she didn’t make enough money from that to support her family in Thailand. By working in the massage parlour she earns more. She doesn’t like the work. Her husband doesn’t like it too that she does this work, she says, but he cannot support her whole family. If she could earn just a little bit more, she could go back to Thailand. She is saving money for that now. There never are problems, she tells. Sometimes she is mentally burdened by the work. She then talks with colleagues, but about some things she cannot talk with them. She feels uncomfortable about how she is forgetting the Thai language. She sketches a situation which gives us the impression of disattachment. Sometimes she doubts she has to stay, or if she should go back to her family, who by no means are supposed to know she’s doing this work.
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Friday, February 24, 2006
(This has been written a long time ago and what I believe now is, that prostitution can never be regulated and that it is better for people not to visit prostitutes altogether.)
I believe I have a very simple solution to stop the problem of human trafficking:
Men (and women) who visit prostitutes should stop visiting victims of human trafficking. When this happens, the human traffickers will not make money anymore, and then there will be no forced prostitution. Supply and demand. When human traffickers don't make money from forcing women into prostitution, there is no financial motivation to continue with what they are doing.
And, clients should be able to know where to go if they don't want to encounter victims of human trafficking. And that can be done by legalising prostitution and making sure that the legal brothels are free of human trafficking. And then the clients should be encouraged to visit legal brothels.
(Well, the problem I had as a client was that I couldn't figure out who the real prostitutes were and who were the victims of human trafficking. You know, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but the legal regulated brothels are still polluted by human trafficking, and the brothel owners and the government know about this. I hoped for the existence of 'fair-trade' brothels, but unfortunately........)
I believe the cause why so many prostitutes are or have been a victim of human trafficking is because the demand for prostitutes (from the clients) is high while only a few women want to work in prostitution (in rich countries). That’s why many prostitutes have a relatively high income, because the demand heavily outweighs the supply. But this high income also attracts criminals who want to profit from the exploitation of prostitutes. (Actually, nowadays I believe this is not a sufficient explanation, see my overhaul - part 2, I actually believe that many prostitutes don't make that much money at all. The profits in the sex industry are exaggerated. Probably, only a small percentage of the prostitutes make a lot of money.) These criminals we call pimps. The pimps follow the most easiest road to achieve their goals. They go for the most vulnerable women who they can force or manipulate into prostitution. Often these women are poor, illegal immigrants or have a low self esteem.
Many people believe that when the problem of world poverty is solved and people can migrate freely, there will be no more human trafficking. Obviously I believe poverty should be reduced and that people should be able to migrate freely. But I believe that when the poverty problem is solved and when immigration becomes legal there still will be a lot of human trafficking. That’s because it will still be lucrative for criminals to exploit women in prostitution, because there will always be a shortage of voluntary prostitutes. The human traffickers will simply shift from vulnerable poor and illegal women to other vulnerable women. In the Netherlands for instance the notorious ‘loverboys’ go to the suburbs to recruit Dutch white girls often from middleclass families. These young women usually have a low self esteem. (Nononono, I doubt that now. Actually, it would indeed be a VERY good thing if world poverty was solved and people SHOULD be able to freely migrate. I belief that prostitutes who are forced into prostitution by poverty should be helped out. That would be a good thing.)
I’ve read many books and articles supporting prostitution. What you’ll read is that prostitutes are not necessarily victims and that many prostitutes work for themselves. Women should have the right to do with their body whenever and wherever they like. Many who advocate for prostitution look from the vantage point of the prostitutes themselves. Often they are or have been prostitutes (I especially refer to three books: “Sex Work-writings by women in the sex industry”, “Whores and other feminists”, and “tricks and treats”). Obviously prostitutes want to ply their trade unhindered. They don’t want government interference when they walk the streets or work from their homes.
But they forget one thing. The shocking reality is that many women who work in prostitution are forced into it by a third person in the background. From the vantage point of the client every prostitute he (or she) visits could be a victim of human trafficking. In the case he accidentally visits a victim of human trafficking he violates a person’s physical integrity. In all the pro-prostitution propaganda I’ve read I haven’t seen any sort of empathy with what clients are feeling and how they are thinking. For instance, when a man visits street-prostitutes, he knows there is a big chance he’ll pick a child-prostitute. Especially if he likes young women. Through all those thick layers of makeup, a 15 year old girl could look like a 19 year old woman. And it is also a known fact that many street-pros work for a pimp (that's probably also true for those who work indoors). Essentially these women are slaves. They have no power over their bodies, no sexual self-determination. If you have had sex with one of them, you factually have raped somebody. But yet, you’ll read many arguments in support of street-prostitution: namely that women and should be allowed to work on the streets, and that it’s okay to use the services of street-prostitutes.
But street-prostitution can never be regulated. In theory it should be possible to regulate licensed indoor-prostitution, and to make sure that there’s no human trafficking in the brothels. Then a client could have the guarantee that when he visits a certain brothel, he will not visit a victim of human trafficking. I support the idea of legalizing prostitution. Unfortunately, despite that fact that prostitution in the Netherlands is legal, you see a lot of human trafficking in government-regulated brothels. In fact, the legalisation of prostitution in the Netherlands just means an easy way for the government to expel illegal immigrants, and they haven’t been successful in doing this either!!! I have to admit that currently the situation in the Netherlands is that it doesn't really matter if you visit a legal brothel. The police only checks documents. If the prostitute turns out to be illegal or minor, she will be taken into custody.
Sorry, sorry, I'm victim-blaming now. For the prostitutes who are reading this, no offence. Actually I now (at the moment of writing) believe that it's better for clients if they avoid organized prostitution ALTOGETHER!!! How much freedom do prostitutes have in brothels or in escort-agencies?
I believe customers should be very careful about the prostitutes they visit and that they really should try to avoid forced prostitutes. Well, then you could say: the clients isn’t responsible in the first place, look at all the products you buy in the store, for instance the clothes you are wearing, aren’t these manufactured by Chinese slaves in the garment industry?
I don’t agree with that position. If you say that, you are saying that a woman is just something you can use and throw away. It also means that it's okay to sexually abuse children (many products are made by child laborers in third world countries anyway).
All regulated brothels should be free of human trafficking. All other forms of prostitution outside the legal brothels should be discouraged. But then you might think, what if a woman decides she wants to work on street or in her home. Isn’t that her right to do that? It’s consensual anyway. I don’t agree. Think about selling alcohol. Nobody can just sell alcohol. You need a license. And not without a reason. So even when selling alcohol from one person to another may be consensual, you still need government interference.
Clients must have the duty to do everything possible to prevent he will not visit a victim of human trafficking. He should be encouraged to visit the regulated brothels.
But I’m pessimistic. In reality, many clients are not interested at all in the women they visit. Early 2006 a campaign was launched in the Netherlands to make clients aware about the problem of human trafficking (see www.totaleovergave.nl). They were encouraged to call to a special phone number if they suspected that a particular prostitute they visited was trafficked. Leo de Klein is the chairman of a lobby for Dutch brothel owners. His response to this campaign is very clear: The clients are not interested, the only thing they want is cheap sex, the cheapest way possible.
I’m against the idea of ‘harm-reduction’ in the sense that also child-prostitutes and victims of human trafficking should be allowed to work in legal brothels and on government designated tolerance zones, like so many social workers and human-rights activist want it to be. The idea behind this is that the victims can be more easily accessible to aid workers, else they will move “underground”. I believe this approach is totally counterproductive. This whole idea will provoke men to deliberately abuse the victims. When you say that the victims should be allowed to work in legal brothels, you also signal to the clients that it is okay to have sex with a person who is forced, that is to rape a person.
If all my plans would materialize, human trafficking will disappear. The clients will only visit the real prostitutes, and the human trafficking won’t make money anymore, then human trafficking will stop automatically because the profit motive is gone.
I hope my ideas will give people a different point of view in tackling this horrible phenomenon. Also keep in mind that men who visit prostitutes are human being too who should be held accountable for their acts. Many men visit prostitutes. We are not invisible seedy looking sexual perverts, but normal men. We could be your brothers, fathers, uncles, sons…….(have I forgotten anything?)
Hmmmmm, I have a list of bottlenecks on this page:
Well, a person can change of opinion. After thinking long and hard:
Does a brothel-owner have the right to ask a person about his/her private live?
And by the way, aside from human trafficking, are the circumstances for prostitutes in the brothels that good? What is the influence of the brothels owners and escort operators? Do prostitutes have much to say about working hours and which clients they can choose? I'm trying to figure that out. Also THAT is forced prositution.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Okay, now some excerpts from a Dutch report. This report was a government assigned report. The goal was to map the loverboy-phenomenon. The researchers concluded that there wasn’t a loverboy-problem, but a ‘modern pimp’-problem. Only a small percentage of the pimps use romantic seduction techniques according to the researchers.
Notice that the researchers mainly focused on de Wallen. “Het Scharlaken Koord” operates on the Wallen. So don’t be confused. And their evening-walks were on this particular RLD.
The name of the report is: ‘Loverboys’ of modern pooierschap in Amsterdam.
I will translate some parts from Dutch into English. Here's the link to the original report:
original document (in Dutch)
‘Loverboys’ or modern pimphood in Amsterdam’
Marion van San
Tim Boekhout van Solinge
Dirk J. Korf
Willem Pompe Instituut voor Strafrechtwetenschappen [Willem Pompe Institute for criminal sciences]
Utrecht, December 2004
page 34:All policemen whom we speak with, say that the vast majority of the prostitutes on de Wallen have a pimp-boyfriend in one form or another. Ladies from the Dominican Republic and Colombia are actually the only ones who work completely independent (at least independent of men in the Netherlands).
page 58-61:We got to know the prostitution-business better in the months from August through December of this year . The assumption was that in a healthy and well regulated business new criminality like those by loverboys wouldn’t get a chance. Only since November we have the conviction that we understand what happens in the world of modern pimphood and how this world is working. It has become clear to us that the prostitution-business is not that healthy at all. A business that has been working underground for centuries doesn’t seem to have been tidied up just like that a couple of years after the ban on brothels has been lifted.
Male partners in all shapes and sizes
It is practically impossible for women to work alone and independently. There always are men in the background and only their roles vary. The most important variable turns out to be the ethnic group where the prostitutes are part of. Around each ethnical segment there are (networks) of men who profit from prostitution. The ladies themselves assure us that in reality not one prostitute works entirely without a man. Those who try cannot offer resistance to men who obtrude themselves. This form of blackmail is typical of prostitution.
The only question is which role these male profiteers play: husband, friend, old fashioned pimp, dealer, loverboy? For African and South-American women there are presumably men in the background in the countries of origin. Except for the ones involved nobody knows the exact details, but the story itself is powerful enough to leave these women alone. For Eastern European women there seem to be men present in the background who rather operate as human trafficker or inspector in service of the human trafficking organisation. When one of us together with Toos Heemskerk [who works for “Het Scharlaken Koord”] came knocking on the door of Eastern European girls and stepped in, we noticed that each time within two minutes there was a phone call. The people who called probably were in the café on the opposite side and were keeping an eye on the windows. According to our informants there are many Albanians among the Eastern European supervisors. It’s difficult to find out. Police-officer Mos Florie who really puts the fear of God into people, sees them hurrying into the alleys when he’s coming and it’s well visible on the monitors of the camera-surveillance in the bureau Warmoesstraat.
For our quest, the Western European, white, segment is the most important. Now, the old pimps are gone indeed. It has little do to with the normalisation of the prostitution-business, but it's related to the rise in the trafficking in drugs. From literature about the rise of organized crime (see ‘Inzake Opsporing” of the commission van Traa in 1995, especially supplement XI) it can be deducted that a large part of the old underworld has shifted to the lucrative trade in soft drugs. Nowadays there are only two characters who fit the stereotype of the old pimp (a businesslike profiteer for sure, but based on a certain equality and chosen by the woman). People chuckle about them, they are rumoured to be doing the dishes when their dearest wife comes home late. When we meet one of them (adorable man with a doggie) we understand they are cherished like museum pieces. A new generation of pimps have replaced them and Moroccans, some Turks and even Antilleans are dominating. The Turks can be found in the higher echelons and that seems to be related to the human trafficking connection of Eastern Europe through Instanbul (compare Siegel and Yesilgöz, 2003). The pimp hasn’t disappeared, the older Dutch generation simply has been replaced by immigrants. Typically a case of ethnic succession (Bovenkerk, 1992). A released ‘niche’ in the (informal) economy has been occupied by a new ethnic group. In de same way Turkish bakers are rising in the multicultural neighbourhoods and Dutch cleaning women are replaced by cleaning women from South- and Eastern Europe and then from the third world.
Now, the difficult question if they're all loverboys according to our definition. This is the case when such men bring women in prostitution through romantic manipulation. During our research we had the chance to ask this question to at least twenty girls. Yes, at first they often have entered prostitution through a love affair. The way this has happened makes a exceptionally cunning impression. The main characters in their stories often come close to the loverboy-stereotype. They also tell us that Moroccan young men (and also Turks by the way) use magical techniques to achieve this. The girls call this voodoo. Also compare this to what the loverboys themselves let us know in the previous chapter. This could explain why they behave like spineless victims and despite the most terrible experiences of maltreatment and deceit cannot break free from their loverboy at all. We now understand the use of the word loverboy better. In the world of prostitution itself the word is not used, but the young prostitutes cherish it to maintain the fiction that “their” boyfriend is real and not an unscrupulous exploiter; he is not a pimp but a loverboy. Many of these girls now work independently (with another, self chosen boyfriend in the background) or they have switched or were sold from one pimp to another. Sometimes they tell they have been sold for some tens of thousands of Euros.
It’s striking that the girls don’t seem to originate from Amsterdam itself. They come from Groningen, Gouda, Harderwijk, Zwolle etcetera. But beware: this is nothing new. The prostitutes of Amsterdam in the seventeenth and eighteenth century came from adjoining provinces and from North-Germany (Van de Pol, 1996: 103) and not from the city itself. According to one of the guides on de Wallen, Toos Heemskerk of “Het Scharlaken Koord”, this is one of the reasons why the problem of modern pimps especially in Amsterdam has been noticed so late. She could be right about that. The modern pimps are more adventurous and ‘outreaching’ compared to the older generation. They go to the provinces themselves to recruit girls. The new youthful prostitutes don’t exclusively come from the lower social environments like in the fifties and sixties of the past century, prostitution is not a poverty phenomenon anymore. Families of who a girl has disappeared into prostitution, are looking for her, they report themselves to the police and mobilise supporters to hunt for the tormenters of their daughters. Based on their stories we became impressed by the disruptive effect this phenomenon has on families and the great effort the parents are making to get their daughters back. The authorities of the places where the girls come from get some information, but not from the city of Amsterdam where the girls are put to work. A second reason why the problem hasn’t been noticed in Amsterdam is because the girls and their pimps are very mobile. They could be put to work for day, weeks or months in Amsterdam and then in The Hague, Eindhoven and Antwerpen.
The attitude of the sex-operators
Now the question is, how does the prostitution-business respond to the new pimps. On first glance they are only annoyed by these parasites and it gives the business a bad image. But why do the entrepreneurs of the commercial sex-business allow it? Our interview-round went very predictable. All the interviewees inform us that they strictly don’t allow the prostitutes to be escorted by what men whatsoever and that it doesn’t take place in their segment of prostitution. It would be better if we went to look in other branches of prostitution.
You don’t solicit in prostitution because this would implicate that you are going to work in a paid employment, that means that the treasury could interpret this as a ‘labour relation’. Paying taxes is avoided in this former illegal world (well then: also in other sectors). The operators demand that the women present themselves alone, without a man. They assured us that the party was over when a young man escorts her and makes the impression of being a pimp. This is confirmed by the girls during interviews: as a girl you always go alone to rent a window or to work in a club. And … when there’s a pimp, he waits around the corner.
A representative of the luxurious club-business [probably the 'Excellent Groep'] tells us that in his segment only independent women can work who really know what they’re doing. He will initiate them, supplies them with all kinds of information about work and health and explains the terms. If they come with pimp-type (immigrant) boyfriends, he will try to get rid of the situation and not to incite aggression: ‘I will not employ her because she doesn’t realise where she’s heading’. Girls who work under duress are unprofessional. He doesn’t want controlling men in his place who are receiving money and he doesn’t want to be disturbed by men who repeatedly call their girls with a mobile phone. No, these girls could better go to window-prostitution, because there they can make more money because of the conveyer-belt type of work [typical of window-prostitution] and the young man can supervise his girlfriend better.
We don’t rule out that entrepreneurs in the prostitution-business really don’t know that she works for a pimp. And indeed: some of them stand firm. But the girls we interview have to chuckle about it. The doorkeeper of the club of which we spoke the aforesaid owner, knows very well who is waiting outside. They assure us that they very easily can get started in all sectors of prostitution, and that the entrepreneurs know damn well that they work for a pimp.
By the way, the spokesman of the clubs is completely right with his reference to window-prostitution. It’s true that in all sectors of prostitution there are girls who work for pimps, but researchers in the escort-sector and in other sectors rarely find them (compare the disappointing result of such attempts about the escort-sector in Amsterdam of Eijsink-Smeets and Etman, 2000 and Goderie, Spierings and ter Woerds, 2002, about juvenile prostitution after the lifting of the ban on brothels), but both the so-called pimps themselves we interviewed and the girls refer foremost to the windows. For research this sector has the advantage that it is easily accessible.
Page 62:The managers do their best to rent out as many of their windows as possible. During weekdays it is calm, in the weekend it is busy. He has every reason to rent out his window (compare the letting of hotel rooms) for a certain shift over a full week. In practice it turns out to be easier to make such a deal for a whole week with a pimp who supervises multiple girls. The prostitute reports herself to the office (collects the key etcetera), but the rental agreement is being made by telephone with him. This turns out from telephone conversations which have been tapped by the police. A next compelling reason to take ones chance with pimps is simply intimidation. There are among the pimps very aggressive types like it has turned out from police information. We can vividly imagine that the managers in their offices don’t want to run unnecessary risks. The police has pointed out to proprietors the possibility to report the violent pimps via an anonymous emergency number. But nothing came from the neighbourhood, they’ve probably got the wind up. After all there’s little dispute agáinst the pimps. Also the Eastern European human traffickers have, as far as we could check, not succeeded in acquiring any property or position of power within the prostitution business. Dutch (immigrant) pimps have not yet tried.
quote from appendix 1:
page 72-73:Do we as researchers have a certain impression about the size of this [loverboy-]phenomenon? Yes, and we’ll show it for what’s it worth. We started this investigation with a scientific attitude of eternal doubt about the large numbers named in the media, we had the impression of a hype or a moral panic. After this we wandered alone or together through a part of the prostitution landscape and started to think about this with more shade of meaning. Obviously there isn’t a objective trait we can count. A tattoo on the girls could perhaps be a male name? This is hardly reliable and sometimes the tattoos are in places which aren’t publicly visible. But we did observe that some windows were kept an eye on and that boys were loitering near prostitution-establishments with other intentions than ‘to bring clean sheets’. We assume based on literature that nearly all women work for a man and a part of them work for a pimp.
Without any doubt there are pimps among them who actively recruit innocent girls who they violently bring and keep in prostitution. While we gradually reached the understanding that the relations between prostitutes and their pimps know all the possible variants and that the methods of loverboys are not sufficiently unique to be recognized as a separate category, but such boys obviously do exist. We got to know them by speaking with them in jails and their method of working became more and more apparent to us. We learned to identify them better during our walks on de Wallen. Controlled observations followed using a social worker and a police officer who knew the men and women involved like nobody else in their ‘natural environment’ of prostitution. Their estimates were very identical. During weekday evenings some twenty [Dutch loverboy-]girls work on de Wallen and in the weekend this number is more than double: fifty. Calculated over one year this must be much more because the speed at which these girls are transferred, is big. Then we were shown a photo book by de Wallen-team of the police and we became aware of 76 men who had been observed during the last half year and of whom it is certain that they have a very violent past. Not all those pimps follow the method of loverboys, but when we keep in mind that some of them don’t show themselves in the neighbourhood, when we know that they also operate in other branches of prostitution elsewhere in the city and when we presume that in the foreign segment there are pimps and human traffickers around who use romantic tricks, then we’ll risk at least a minimum estimate of a hundred pimps including their assistants, calculated over on whole year. The number of women who they have a relationship with is at least the same number, but this number should be larger because there are pimps who exploit multiple women simultaneously. That’s our rough estimate for now.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Translated from Dutch into English. This article is about Ghanian reverend Tom Marfo. He helps African prostitutes in the Netherlands. (Hmmm, I don't trust this Tom Marfo. He's the only person in his organisation. And the only person who actually sees the women is himself.)
Tom Marfo also has a website:
Volzin, November 15, 2002
By Anton de Wit
Tom Marfo fights forced prostitution
“These girls are slaves”
Illegal prostitution has become more intangible since the ban on brothels was lifted. That’s the conclusion of an evaluative report from the Ministry of Justice. Reverend Tom Marfo tries to offer these invisible prostitutes a new life. “The slave trade has been legally prohibited here in the nineteen century. Those who subscribe to the law shouldn’t turn their heads away.” Marfo received the Margo Klompé-price last week.
His eyes became glassy. He starts to speak slower, emphasizes each word. His eyes spit fire, his nostrils softy trembling. Nothing is left of the gentle, timid man who a short while ago showed a picture of his daughter with a proud smile. “That’s my little Princess.” Who enthusiastically tells there is a second one coming. Who hospitably showed his modest and neat apartment in the heart of the Bijlmermeer. Cheerfully he spoke about the Marga Klompé-price which soon will be presented for his work.
Exactly that work is the reason for his sudden change of mood. After asking about his pastoral care for prostitutes the inspired vicar resurfaces. He is doing it for years, but he still feels a sort of sacred indignation. Yes, his work can tolerate daylight. Even worse, he started this so he could show the world the glaring injustice.
“I want to draw attention to the darkness behind the red lights”, he says in a conspiring voice. “The deep evil behind prostitution. People go to the red light district to have sex with mostly very young girls, and they call that pleasure. But I believe even the conscience of those sex-maniacs would revolt if they would know that the girls are slaves, who are being tortured and drugged to do this work. The slave trade has been legally prohibited here in the nineteen century. Those who subscribe to the law shouldn’t turn their heads away.”
The Ghanian reverend Tom Marfo (45) will receive the Margo Klompé-price – a total sum of 2500 euros – on the ninth of November in the auditorium of the University of Tilburg. The price is named after the first female minister in the Netherlands and is meant as a encouragement to people who from a Christian perception of the fellow men push for justice, peace and the emancipation of women within church and society.
Marfo receives the price for the Christian Aid and Resources Foundation (CARF), of who he is the initiator and coordinator. And the only driving force, he shyly acknowledges. He admits it is not a real organisation. The means for him are lacking. CARF doesn’t receive structural support from the government and he depends on donations. Two old computers, a telephone and a fax in a corner of his apartment constitutes his office. The most important goal of his foundation: to offer help to illegal, often African women who want to leave prostitution and build a new life. And first of all to give them mental assistance. Telephonic pastoral care is his main task. If possible, he also offers accommodation in cooperation with a housing association. He supervises four apartments on strictly secret locations. He also tries to help them get a job, mostly as cleaning women, moonlighting. He has offered more than 300 women a new life.
The girls themselves are resolutely shielded by him. Patiently he explains why they don’t like to tell their stories. The ex-prostitutes have been through a lot and want to forget their past. Moreover, they have very different opinions about sexuality than us Westerners. Sex is in all cases something to be ashamed about. Let alone unsafe sex.
“The first thing I feel from my Christian inspiration when I see the girls on the street is compassion. I got to talk to some of the girls. I asked them how they came here. Why they did this work.” He found out that most girls end up in prostitution against their will. They pay a lot of money to human traffickers, with the expectation they will get a job or education in Western Europe. “They are tricked. I know a young women who wanted to continue her study of law here, but who ended up straight on de Wallen.”
Leaving prostitution is difficult. The criminal organisations who exploit the prostitutes don’t fear intimidation. Marfo: “I have heard about a girl who escaped her ‘madame’. They sent a couple of tough guys after her to get her back. They hung her on the ceiling until she wetted her pants. Then they pulled her down. They repeated that three times, until she was practically dead. ‘Next time we don’t pull you down’, they said. That sort of things happen here in the Netherlands. In the entire country, not only in Amsterdam.”
His work is not without danger. The criminal organisations and he are playing “a cat- and mouse game”, he says, “They know what I do and they know that the police is on my side. So they keep their distance. But I have been threatened more than enough.” He doesn’t know fear. A leftover from his youth, he believes. Marfo grew up in a polygamous Islamic family in Ghana and was raised roughly by his uncles. “Already then they could wound my body, but not my will. That upbringing has determined my willpower and fearlessness for a big part. It caused me to fight for the emancipation of these slaves. If I have to die for something I believe is just, than so be it. I lack the gene that produces fear.”
The reverend pleads for a touch approach towards to perpetrators, instead of “cosmetic actions” against the illegal prostitutes themselves. “What the authorities are doing in these cases, is to attack the victims. They raid clubs, get them of the streets, throw them in jail. After all they have been through. I have experienced many times that such a girl calls me from the women’s prison in Zwolle: ‘I’m in jail, please pray for me.’ I would urgently like to call on the government: stop with aiming at the soft spots, the defenceless targets.”
Politics and the judiciary should shift their priorities to a more structural approach, Marfo believes, that means to deal with the human traffickers and the pimps. “Don’t underestimate the scale in which this is happening. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal activity in the world, only drug trafficking is bigger. It involves billions. To fight, this perseverance and willpower is necessary. It will also demand willpower from Western governments. The same willpower they also exhibit in the war against terrorism.”
Marfo suspects that the problem of human trafficking and illegal prostitution can be efficiently combated with only a fraction of the display of power the Western world showed in Afghanistan. “Al Qaeda is well trained and professionally equipped. You can’t say for the human smugglers. At any moment their mobile phone-traffic can be tapped. So why does human trafficking increase in the Western world? I would like George Bush to stop talking about Iraq and say a word about the human trafficking which takes place right behind the White House.”
“Cleansing a tippelzone is like carrying coals to Newcastle”
[tippelzone=tolerance zone for streetprostitutes]
The legalisation of brothels in October 2000 hasn’t been an unqualified success. Women who work in prostitution involuntarily, who are a minor or illegal, are moving from regulated sectors to the unregulated, hardly verifiable forms of prostitution. Because there it is lacking of supervision and access by aid workers, these prostitutes are extra vulnerable to exploitation. That’s the conclusion of the evaluative report “het bordeelverbod opgeheven” [“Lifting the ban on brothels”] which appeared early October . In this report assigned by the ministry of justice, hundreds of insiders in the sex-industry have been interviewed.
“The willingness to talk was better than expected”, tells researcher Marjolein Goderie of the Verwey-Jonker Institute in Utrecht, one of the four agencies involved in this research. “Sometimes we had to pose as a client to speak with the girls in person. We also paid them, because the pimps expected them the bring money home.” The researchers registered stories about extortion, repression and intimidation. “In many cases there was serious compulsion. Some girls their spirits were literally broken, through long lasting rapes.”
The report didn’t create clarity about the scale of the problem. It’s neither clear if the illegal sex-industry has grown or shrunk since the ban on brothels was lifted. But the researchers did notice a shift of illegal prostitution to municipalities where there was less supervision over legality. “Here lies a task for the national government, who has decentralized the prostitution policy. Lax municipalities should be put under pressure more, to stop the shifting-effect. There has to be a tougher national policy anyhow, because one is dealing with nationally and internationally operating human traffickers. Targeting them is more useful than cleansing tippelzones, like recently happened in Amsterdam. That is like carrying coals to Newcastle. The traffickers turn out new girls in no time.”
The entire report can be downloaded from www.wodc.nl (in Dutch unfortunately)
Actually, you can find the specific download-location here:
Het bordeelverbod opgeheven
Tom Marfo also has a website:
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Monday, February 13, 2006
Okay, translated from Dutch into English......
also read:False promise
Santé, Juli 2004
by Stephanie Jansen
You have to keep on fighting, how lonely the battle may seem
Tatjana (23) from Eastern Europe [actually it’s Bulgaria] was tricked by a ‘loverboy’[pimp] and fell into the hands of a criminal organisation who forced her into prostitution in the Netherlands. Thanks to the police she could escape, but she doesn’t dare to go home. ‘When I’m on street I’ll flee when I believe I see somebody from my country.’
‘I was raised in a happy family in a country in Eastern Europe. At home I had everything I could possibly wish for. Lovely parents, two sisters with whom I had a good relationship. I studied history and archaeology and made some money as a barkeeper.
One evening when I had a night out with girlfriends I met Nicolai. A nice looking guy. When we chatted, I discovered he also was very sympathetic. Many men only want sex, but Nicolai showed no sign of intention. He was very interested in who I was. We dated more often and he showered me with presents, flowers, diners. Slowly I fell deeply in love. I thought he was the sweetest boy I ever met. He had an apartment and after a couple of months I moved in with him. His friends I barely knew, but I met his brother regularly, also a very nice guy. In hindsight I think: Nicolai and his brother, they were too nice. It wasn’t right.
How Nicolai exactly earned his money wasn’t clear to me. He told me he had worked in Germany for a while and saved a lot of money there. He drove in a beautiful car indeed. Once in a while he mentioned that we actually should go to Western Europe for a while with the two of us. There you could easily find a well paid job according to him. As an au pair, as a waiter, as a cleaning person. If we could work hard one year, we could buy a beautiful apartment on our arrival back. After all, we had to think about our future together. And he stressed that for me only the best was good enough.
Although my parents were totally against it, Nicolai’s plan strongly appealed to me. That I had to abort my study was not an objection to me. In my country a diploma is not a guarantee for a job. I liked the idea of a romantic adventure with Nicolai to see something of the world and make a lot of money too. I was in love, naive and in hindsight very stupid.
‘Just trust me’Nicolai said he had a couple of good friends in Amsterdam. That’s why we chose the Netherlands as our destination. We lived forward to the date of departure. On the last moment Nicolai’s car turned out to be defect, but I didn’t want to postpone the journey. I arranged a ride via a vague acquaintance who went with a car to Germany. From thereon we could use the train to continue the journey to Amsterdam. Along the way I had a conversation with that acquaintance which I will never forget. He asked if I knew what often happens to Eastern European girls in the Netherlands. Of course I knew those stories, but I didn’t understand why he brought up that issue. After all I went with Nicolai, and weren’t our plans very clear?
At the moment Nicolai went to the toilet during a break, the boy gave me his phone number. ‘In case you need help.’ Out of politeness I stored the number in the memory of my mobile phone. I never would have suspected that two days later this number ‘suddenly’ would disappear from the memory of my phone.
After we arrived in a large German city Nicolai and I went with a train to Amsterdam. I looked forward to meeting one of his friends, who would await us on the Central Station. But this Serge greeted me only faintly. In the hallway of the station he started a conversation with Nicolai which I barely understood. I walked around and looked into some magazines in a magazine-store. Suddenly Serge stood next to me. ‘Come, we’ll leave.’ I asked whereto and looked around, but Nicolai was nowhere to be found. ‘Just trust me’, he said, ‘Nicolai will come later’.
Stomach churningHe brought me to an apartment in the city centre. There he started to talk with a businesslike tone to me. I had to listen very carefully and shouldn’t ask too many questions. This was his home. I could live here, but I had to pay for that. I also had to pay back the journey and the visa. The total sum was 1700 euros. He didn’t beat about the bush: the only way to get this money together, was by prostitution. Resistance is futile, he added with a threatening voice. Or else his ‘contacts’ in Eastern Europe would do something to my family. And I didn’t want to put my parents and sisters into danger? I almost choked in my coffee. My head was spinning, but I did realise that I was in deep trouble.
Nicolai was gone, I spoke not one word of English, let alone Dutch, and I didn’t have a buck in my pocket. Serge gave me a bottle of vodka and I fell asleep while crying. The next morning he left as I heard how he locked the door behind me. I could have screamed and shout to alarm the neighbours, I could have phoned the police, but I was terrified and could only think about what could happen to my beloved family. In my country it’s very normal if somebody kills someone for 50 euros.
Slowly I became aware of the shocking reality. My ‘beloved’ Nicolai was an impostor, he sold my body like a piece of meat at the butcher-shop. I was a victim of trafficking in women, exactly what the acquaintance had told me on the way.
The first days I spent in Serges apartment watching television and learning English words from a book. In the meantime Nicolai reappeared. On his arrival he looked at me ice-cold. ‘I think you understand’, he said. ‘We’ll say no more about it.’ I could have scratched his eyes out of his head. What he had done was so disgusting and humiliating. And the worst thing was I had no choice. I had to make sure that I could get the money together. I hoped that after this, Serge and Nicolai would let me go.
After two weeks Serge put me in his car and brought me to the tippelzone [a tolerance zone for street-prostitutes]. ‘Talk to nobody’, he sissed while he pushed me on the street. ‘If somebody asks you something, you only name a price.’ Petrified I looked around. I saw cars, girls and a coffee-stand. I rather don’t think back about that first night. It was awful and stomach churning. While I did what Serge asked, I saw him driving circles and watching me continuously. Not long after my introduction on the street I also was put to work in the escort-service and I went to clients in hotels. These men usually were less vile and brute than the clients on the street, but basically they were not less disgusting. ‘Why are you doing this?’ was the first question they asked without an exception. I always told them exactly what was going on. They felt sorry for me, but in the end they didn’t bother and simply had sex with me, except for some individuals who took me out on a dinner.
Nowhere to goAt first I believed I was allowed to go home after saving enough money, but I lost that illusion very early on. Each time I handed over my money, Serge and Nicolai found something which forced me to pay more. Food, cleaning products, using the car: they charged the strangest things so my ‘debt’ only increased, up to three-, four-, five thousand euros. I quarrelled with them, but I always ended up crying and fleeing to the bathroom or the balcony. I had nowhere to go and I felt intense loneliness.
Numb with fearThe only support I got was from the girls who I met on street. They were in the same position as I was. There were roughly three groups of girls on the tippelzone: the drug-addicts, the professional whores and we, the foreign girls who were lured to Amsterdam under false pretences and who came from countries like Rumania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia and Nigeria.
On the first day a girl from Eastern Europe wrapped an arm around me and gave me coffee and later also alcohol. Martini, beer, vodka, we drank what we could. Alcohol stuns, so we didn’t have to feel the humiliation. Regularly I saw women who had been beaten black and blue. By their pimp, I knew that. Each week new girls arrived and they always looked like me on the first day: desperate, humiliated and in shock when the first car stops and you have to step in.
The most absurd thing was that there always was police on the streets. Actually it’s unimaginable how women can be abused on such a large scale and nobody interferes. But I would never have dreamed about approaching a police officer. We would only bring ourselves in danger. We agreed that we should wait until the right moment, the right person. ‘Think about the day you’ll escape.’
After three months something suddenly changed. I noticed that Nicolai and Serge were in trouble. At that moment two other Eastern European girls lived in the apartment. We had to stop working and were accommodated in repeatedly different hotels, where we had to stay inside the whole day. A gang from Eastern Europe was chasing us it seemed, that’s what I concluded from conversations, but I didn’t know why. Money, girls, drugs?
Because much of our belongings still lied in the apartment, we went there every now and then to collect something. When on one evening I went there, together with Nicolai and housemate Dana, I saw that the lights were burning upstairs. Because I saw the car of the landlord parked in front of the door, I assumed he was upstairs. I was the first to step in. Right in front of me there was a group of men of whom one grabbed me and threw me on a couch. A barrel of a gun was pushed against my head. Behind me I heard a gunshot. I had no time to contemplate. With a raw hand I was pushed outside, downstairs, onto the streets. I had to run in the dark while I felt the gun in my back. After a while the man hailed a cab and we tore to a block of flats in an suburb. Dana seemed to have arrived there also. Four other men were with her.
We received vodka, which we drank numb with fear. ‘Lets have it, where are Serge and Nicolai’, one screamed at us. We could do nothing more than to shrug our shoulders. How should we know? The men conferred aloud what they should do with us. One said: sell them to Albanians, that will yield 2000 euros apiece. The second one wanted to kill us because we knew too much. The third one agreed, but first wanted us to perform a lesbian show on the table. I have never been so afraid in my entire life. Until I heard shootings outside and beams of light flashing through the room. ‘Stay where you are, this is the police’, it sounded through a megaphone. Armed police officers rushed in. Where the police came from and who had warned them, I have no idea. But it was our rescue. Or else Dana and I wouldn’t have been there anymore, I’m convinced of that.
We were brought to a police station and then to a Blijf-van-mijn-lijf-huis [‘stay-off-my-body-house’, a shelter for battered women]. It was a flush. Dana and I were in raptures, we couldn’t believe we had been rescued. Two of the five kidnappers turned out to be arrested. When the police asked us to testify in court, we agreed immediately. Obviously we wanted these criminal individuals to be punished! We were willing to tell our stories in every detail. How we were lured to the Netherlands. How we were put under pressure. And what were the descriptions of Nicolai, Serge and others involved. In exchange for helping the judiciary we would get all the support we needed, so we were promised. We would get a residence permit and shelter.
OutlawedWhat seemed so beautiful, turned out to be different. Only after we had made all the statements, we realised that we had outlawed ourselves. The promised residence permit was only valid during the lawsuit. We didn’t know that, but it means that soon we will be expelled and sent back to out own country. Without protection that would be perilous. We are dealing with members of a criminal organisation who don’t fear reprisals. There are known case of Albanian girls who after their return were shot on the streets. Another one got a phone call: we have your child. And another found her mother killed. Going back is not an option for me. The only alternative is disappearing into illegality. Or should I, like a lawyer suggested, marry a Dutch man to stay here?
The police in the meantime shrug their shoulders. It is a terrible thing to acknowledge, but I feel have been abused for a second time. When I was forced into prostitution I had hope of a better future. Now my future has no colour anymore. I live in constant fear. When I’m on street I’ll flee when I believe I see somebody from my country. Weekly I have contact on phone with my family, but I’m scared of their fate. At night I wake up in fear. I see no way out, but it doesn’t mean that I let it be. I want to fight, fight for girls like me. Together with two other victims we founded the association Atalantas. We want to help girls in this situation with information about their position. Aside from that we want to explain to politicians that victims of human trafficking have no rights and that we deserve better protection.
Even if I only help one woman with that, I’ll continue. One thing I have learned from my experiences: you must fight and have faith, how lonely the battle may seem. I’ll keep on doing that. Wherever the battle ends.
For more information:
also read:False promise
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Translated from Dutch into English
also read:Radio interview with Anna Ziverte
Tatjana from Bulgaria
Viva, early 2005. Writer: Unknown.
Anna Ziverte came from Latvia to the Netherlands as a 22-year old law student. She could work her as an au pair, so she was told. In reality she fell into the hands of human traffickers.
“They showed as pictures of our children. Recent pictures; my son whore little boots which I bought right before my departure to the Netherlands. If I didn’t do what they wanted, they would kill me. I had no choice.”
Anna and I arranged to meet in office premises next to a canal in Amsterdam. It is one of the shelters of Atalantas, a self-help-organisation for victims of human trafficking founded by Anna [along with journalist Ruth Hopkins]. The address must be strictly secret, because Anna and the other members of the association are threatened to be killed. By human traffickers. And by the pimps who she once worked for. She tells about her past life in Latvia, about her now 10 year old son and her parents with who she lived at that time. Together with Solvita, her [lady] friend [not a dyke] Anna was supposed to work for a month as an au pair in the Netherlands. They called it a ‘cultural exchange’ at the Latvian mediation office which the two women found through an advertisement. Officially registered au pair organisations didn’t exist at that time in Latvia, but the fact that the office was in the centre of the capital city, next to ministries and police-stations, gave Anna and Solvita the impression that everything was fine. “It looked very trustworthy. Everybody was nice. Throughout the whole office there were photos and letters of thanks of au pairs and families.”
Five silent menAnna could work at a Russian speaking family in Rotterdam. Solvita at a family nearby. They requested specifically for that. They handed over their passports, their visas were arranged, and a couple of weeks later they were on a bus to the Netherlands. Along their way they met the 27 year old Lena, a married woman and a mother of two children who also went to Rotterdam to work a an au pair. “In the Netherlands we were collected by Daiga, our contact of the Latvian mediation office, and one Ruud. They took us to their house, where we could sleep to recover from our long journey. The next morning we actually didn’t go to our host families; Daiga and Ruud brought us to a room where five men awaited us. On a table lied weapons. And then they showed as the photographs.”
The atmosphere was depressing and the silent men had a menacing attitude. We barely dared to look at each other. Suddenly Solvita started to talk agitatedly to Daiga. “What’s happening? What are those men doing here?” Daiga didn’t respond and her eyes were fixed on the carpet. Then Ruud started to talk. Without looking at us Daiga translated Ruud’s words: “There is no job as an au pair. You will go to a club.”
There was a moment of silence.
“Club?” asked Solvita.
I burst out laughing. “Me? In a sexclub? Never!”
(…) I started to scream out of fear and impotence. “I do what I want. Nobody can detain me and if you do, I’ll go to the police.” Meanwhile Solvita got ready to leave, but one of the man grabbed her and pulled her veraciously back by her hair. She squealed. “Silence,” he hissed and suddenly I saw a gun in his hand. (from: ”Valse Belofte” [False promise])
The three women were to work for three months in prostitution, then they were allowed to go home, the men promised. The women had no passport, no money, and spoke no Dutch. Anna’s only hope was that the traffickers spoke the truth and that they could go back to Latvia after three months. “We were brought to the sexclub in the heart of Rotterdam. Afterwards I learned that de Ritz was a legal club, but not one woman worked voluntarily. [comment: Matter of fact, the Ritz still exists. You can find it on the ‘s-Gravenburgwal. At the moment Ziverte was forced to work in this club the club was owned by members of the notorious Milliardair gang described in the book ‘Ze zijn zo lief meneer’ written by Chris de Stoop.] I did things I never expected I would do. I was a robot. I only thought about myself and my child, not a moment about Solvita. After a couple of weeks she was sold to an Arab, who also trafficked women in Russia and Lithuania. I have never seen her again. Also Lena disappeared without a trace. She didn’t make enough money and became ill. I believe they killed her.”
French fries and alcoholAt the sexclub Anna and the other women were told that it was normal they worked there. Even the police knew about it. Even worse, they often dropped by. But never Anna or one of the other women were approached. And she never dared to approach a police officer for help. “In Latvia the police is very corrupt. Why should it be different in the Netherlands? I could trust nobody.”
Anna slept with four other women in one room of the house of her pimp Ruud, who she had to pay 400 Dutch florins each month for a matras. He forced the women to call to their parents and say everything was fine. Once in every three days Ruud brought them some French fries and they could eat something in the sexclub. Anna lost 10 kilos in one month. “Alcohol, that was served continuously. Were were continuously intoxicated.”
With an unhappy expression on my face I was sitting at the bar. Apparently there are men who fall for such a posture, because a young, well-dressed man started to chat with me. While we were sitting there, I saw Solvita go upstairs with a man. My heart thumped in my throat. I didn’t want to know. My guest spoke little German, and my English wasn’t my strongest trait. At the end we didn’t understand each other, but he was friendly and he indicated he wanted to go upstairs. On the toilet I swallowed another glass of whiskey. While trembling I led him upstairs. The rooms where warm and actually very cosily furnished. On the table there were condoms and in the corner was a shower cabinet. The man undressed me and I felt shivery. “Are you afraid? First time?” I shook my head wildly. No, no, not the first time. (from: ‘Valse Belofte’)
After one and a half month Anna was sold without consultation to Paolo, a Yugoslav. Her luck: he was in love with her. “I knew I didn’t have to work as a whore anymore. I had no girlfriends, knew nobody except for him, but it was much better than in the sexclub. And I was in love with him too, I believed. He was my saviour. Moreover, he promised that I could see my son again.”
More than half a year later Paolo indeed wanted to go to Latvia with Anna. He offered to arrange a false passport, but Anna refused. “I wanted to confess everything to the police, so they could give me new travel documents. Indirectly we came in contact with somebody from the Criminal Intelligence Service. There I unknowingly made a testimony.”
To her great surprise Anna was locked up for three weeks after her statement. She got no interpreter and nobody told her why she had to go to prison. After this, she was brought to a Blijf-van-mijn-lijf-huis ['stay-off-my-body-house', a shelter for battered women]. A Dutch co-occupant who on Anna’s request read her dossier, discovered that she didn’t make a statement, but instead had reported a crime. “She said: ‘Anna, you are deep in the shit.’ My life was in danger, I understood, because the perpetrators not only were told that they had been reported, but also who has done that. But I didn’t want to report nobody! I wanted to forget everything and start all over again.”
One night a woman was brought in. (…) When the light fell on her face, I was scared out of my wits. It was one of the women of a human trafficker and a feared criminal from Rotterdam. I have met her regularly both together with Ruud and Paolo. “Anna?” She recognized me immediately and was visibly terrified. “Are you still here? Are you still in the Netherlands? What are you doing here in God’s name?” (…) “They are evil, Anna,” she panted anxiously. “Be careful. Be very careful. That report to the police was very stupid of you. They never let you go…” (from:’Valse belofte’)
For Anna there was no road back. Fleeing to Latvia was no option, because the perpetrators knew her address and that of her parents. The Netherlands was the safest place; here she could hide in blijf-van-mijn-lijf-huizen and the police knew of her situation. Every day I lived in fear. My parents still don’t know what happened; I call them regularly, but I stayed superfluous. The less people know about me, the better. I trust nobody.”
Different hair-colourAnna was placed under the B9-arrangement: in exchange for cooperating with the judiciary victims of human trafficking get a temporary residence permit. Anna caught eyes with the perpetrators several times in court. When the cases are resolved, the ‘B9-women’ must go back to their own country. Not a nice prospect, because there’s nobody there who can guarantee their safety. Staying in the Netherlands also has its downsides. Victims are not allowed to work, even when their case is going on for years. Moreover, family reunification is not part of the arrangement. Anna: ”I was loosing it. I was here already for five years, I desperately wanted to work, but it wasn’t permitted. But the worst thing was I couldn’t see my child. That’s why I moved him illegally to the Netherlands 5 years ago.”
My lawyer, a mother herself, understood my desires. (…) “How long haven’t you seen Edij?” I told her that in the meantime he called my mother mamma. (…) She nodded, took a deep breath and her eyes wandered through the room. Suddenly she looked at me with narrowed eyes, she looked at the ground and suddenly looked at me with an intense expression and said: “Go get Edij”. It became silent in her room. I gave her a questioning look. “get him over?” [from: ‘Valse belofte’]
Anna has moved three times and she regularly changes her clothing style and hair colour. She and her son always speak Dutch, on the street and at home. He has his own passport and a different surname. Eight years after her report of the crime, now two years ago, Anna’s criminal case was finished. She had to leave the country. She wanted to appeal against this, but her lawyer let her down on the last moment. “I have lived her illegally for seven months, until Latvia became part of the EU in May 2004 and I could live and work here legally. In the meantime I worked as an assistant in a lawyers office. Illegally yes, but everybody knew. We have a perfect toleration policy in the Netherlands.”
Threatened by a pimpIn 2003 Anna and several other women were invited to speak to members of the Dutch parliament about their experiences. That experience got things going: she decided to convert her story into the book ‘Valse belofte’[‘False promise’] and together with other women she founded the association Atalantas. “We realised that in the whole of Europe there is not one organisation where victims of human trafficking could turn to. Arrangements and laws are formulated, but we are never asked a thing. While the B9-arrangement is just not working in practice. Women only have three months to think the matter over. But they are never told [that they can think the matter over for three months]. I haven’t heard anything about that either. We are used by the police and the judiciary and at the moment they don’t need us anymore, we are expelled. Nobody bothers about the future and the safety of the victims.”
With her work for Atalantas Anna’s live hasn’t become safer. She doesn’t have a fixed office-location for safety reasons. “Last time I was threatened on the street by a pimp. But I’ll persevere. With everything I know, I can help so many women. If I can help only one person, I’m satisfied. But our most important message is that everybody could become a victim of human trafficking. But few people can believe I have went through all this. ‘You don’t look like a victim,’ they say. But we aren’t unskilled, naïve village girls. There are also many African women who have been frightened by voodoo. For us Europeans that may sound strange. But in Africa voodoo and spirits play an important role. Before their departure to the Netherlands women often are forced to swear an oath to the gods in which they will swear that they will work hard to pay off their debts. They don’t dare to stop, out of fear something terrible may happen.”
A solution would be a counter-ritual. For this purpose women can go the Christian Aid Resources Foundation (CARF) in Amsterdam, a small organisation who stands up against trafficking in women and forced prostitution. But also Dutch women fall into the hands of human traffickers. They fall in love with a loverboy [pimp who uses romantic techniques to persuade a woman or girl to work for him as a prostitute], or they are exploited by their own father, according to Anna. “But you don’t have to be just a victim. You can also fight. With Atalantas we will make sure women can feel human again.”
Nobody has insight in how the human trafficking network is built up. Victims know that the perpetrators and their accomplices always know where to find them. For me that means that I can’t and don’t dare to go to Latvia. I want to go home, but I can’t. At home, in Latvia, I have to keep silent about my past. Here, in the Netherlands, I can use my experiences to help other women build a new future. That’s my promise.[from: ’Valse Belofte’]
B9 and AtalantasThe B9-arrangement has two goals: prosecuting human traffickers and to shelter victims. But even when they have been in the Netherlands for years and years because the trial lingers on for a long time, at the end they are always expelled.
Atalantas, named after a Greek goddess Atalanta who by her speed could dodge unwanted men, has as the most important goal to improve the situation for everybody in the B9-arrangement and to change the conceptualization of the passive victim. The organisation supports her members in all their judicial procedures.
More info: www.atalantas.org
also read:Radio interview with Anna Ziverte
Tatjana from Bulgaria
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