Actually, I took a furtive look before at other countries besides Netherlands, and concluded that information is very thin. In the Netherlands there is often news about sex trafficking gangs being rounded up and stories told by the victims appear in newspapers and weekly magazines. If you go through the literature there's ample evidence of quite a large number of women who are forced to do this work in the Netherlands. Notably Eastern European women and young Dutch women in window prostitution (Latin American prostitutes are reported to be very independent). But I began to notice that such stories are hard to find in countries like New Zealand and Australia. Also the Romanian (oops Italian) former-prostitute Sonia Rossi makes surprisingly little mention of it about her experiences in Berlin and other cities in Germany.
And now some very interesting reports emerge from Britain which conclude that forced prostitution in that country is actually very rare too and that as a matter of fact the conditions of the people working in this business are very good and that many women even seem to enjoy this labour, meeting interesting people (clients) and having good contacts with the brothel owners and with other prostitutes. Really jolly good fun.
This slowly leads me to conclude that perhaps force in the sex industry is perhaps typically a Dutch problem. How that is I don't know. It can't be because the Dutch are so intolerant because the Dutch are known for their liberal prostitution policies.
To go back to Britain, I name the reports. I first refer to an article on the internet:
More on the Great Sex Trafficking Scam in the U.K. (Friday, October 30, 2009 By Robert Franklin, Esq., Newsdaily.com)
This article quotes Nikki Adams (Niki Adams?) of the English Collective for Prostitutes as saying that after all those years of helping prostitutes they only came across 2 women who have been coerced to work in prostitution. It also highlights project Parameter Two where the police raided many brothels but no convictions of human trafficking were made.
I watched a film on youtube (continued here), it's a fragment from the BBC2 program Newsnight (20 October 2009). In that program Nikky Adams asks Dennis mcShane to apologize because he believed 25000 victims of forced prostitution were in Britain. Here again she says that they came across only two victims in all those years.
The other important source is the stunning study of some 100 prostitutes in London of whom 67 are women and many Eastern European.
ESRC Project: Migrants in the UK Sex Industry with an attached pdf:
Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry Policy-Relevant Findings (by Nick Mai, 2009)
The percentage of women interviewed in this report who had been coerced in the past is surprisingly low and actually the researchers didn't encounter forced prostitutes in the field. The researchers tried to minimize bias as much as possible by trying to approach prostitutes in the most random way possible. I will quote some conclusions:
Interviews with 100 migrant women, men and transgender people working in all of the main jobs available within the sex industry and from the most relevant areas of origin (South America, Eastern Europe, EU and South East Asia) indicate that approximately 13 per cent of female interviewees felt that they had been subject to different perceptions and experiences of exploitation, ranging from extreme cases of trafficking to relatively more consensual arrangements. Only a minority, amounting approximately to 6 per cent of female interviewees, felt that they had been deceived and forced into selling sex in circumstances within which they had no share of control or consent.These results perplex me. Have I got it all wrong? Are all those human traffickers really nice people who help other people out?
Most migrants did not work in the sex industry before coming to the UK and decided to do so after a long string of work experiences in other sectors, which were seen as comparatively less rewarding both in terms of remuneration and of the working conditions offered. The majority of interviewees were introduced to the possibility of working in the sex industry through friends and colleagues they met in other settings and decided to take up the opportunity after they saw positive examples in their everyday lives, both when they were home and in the country of origin.
Almost all interviewees felt that the most advantageous aspects of their involvement in the sex industry were the possibility of earning considerably more money than in other sectors, the availability of time and the possibility of meeting interesting people, travelling and experiencing new and challenging situations. In most cases by working in the sex industry migrants were able to bridge an important gap in their aspirations to social mobility and felt that they were able to enjoy better living and working conditions.
Most interviewees underlined that they enjoyed respectful and friendly relations with colleagues and clients and that by working in the sex industry they had better working and living conditions than those they encountered in other sectors of employment (mainly in the hospitality and care sectors). The research shows that most interviewees consciously decided to work in the sexindustry and that only a minority felt that they had been forced to. The research findings strongly suggest that vulnerability, particularly to trafficking and exploitation, results from migrants’ socio-economic conditions, lack of information about their rights and entitlement to protection in the UK, their personal family and emotional circumstances, but, most of all, from their immigration status in the UK.
Perhaps that I should apologize too. Especially to Laura Agustin and Cheryl Overs (also all the people on hookers.nl and Jonathanx).
This means that my all-prostitutes-are-forced-phase is over now (I predicted this would happen, I am very flexible).
This also means another thing: I could go start visiting prostitutes again! The probability of encountering a forced prostitute is so small, it wouldn't be my fault if I meet one. And I needn't be afraid that the woman hates her job or feels sexually intimidated by me. They love to meet interesting people like me and to gain new experience with all varieties of sex (like oral sex without condom, that's what many prostitutes in the Netherlands do, Oh I'm such a jerk :( ). Nothing to worry about. And according to Nick Mai, prostitutes consider clients even to be 'respectful and considerate'! How wonderful!!
And I shouldn't feel ashamed about wathing porn either!!! Even if it seems so rough, isn't that what everybody does nowadays in their own beds? Including rough anal sex and being fisted? Ask Belle du jour:
Mardi, le 9 mars. My publisher tells me the book needs more smut. Anal sex is the new oral. My friends have been doing it for years and I scarcely raise an eyebrow when a client asks for it. (...) I can tell you're waiting for me to say something profound. Dream on. I don't have any difficult feelings about being a prostitute. Everything's just fine. Got it? I'm just as happy fucking an ugly stranger as I am a handsome lover. The only difference is that I never come with my clients, even when I'm being fisted (From 'The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl by Belle de Jour' lifted from The Guardian, Monday 17 January 2005)
Just kidding, I don't wanna visit prostitutes. Sex is boring, going through all those boring repetitive motions.
(And I even have difficulties geting it up when with a prostitute :(, that's the real reason I started this blog anyway. Not being cynical here. I watch too much porn. I don't get excited by seeing a live naked lady anymore.)
Okay to come back here to the situation in Britain; what Nikki Adams says might be true about only encountering 2 women who are coerced. That's true: coerced. She probably doesn't count the women who are romantically manipulated to work in prostitution or the women who are debt-bonded. That is counted by many also as human trafficking. So that's where the misunderstanding could come from.
Then the report by Nick Mai; we have the very strange situation in the Netherlands that although many social workers and policemen in the field say that many prostitutes are forced/coerced, routine inspections and interviews with the women absolutely don't show that!!!! In the past I gave two possibilities: the women don't tell it, they are either too afraid or simply don't see themselves as victims. Another possibility is that forced prostitution don't allow themselves to be interviewed, something that was noticed by Ine Vanwesenbeeck while trying to interview prostitutes (it's that 'sociale positie van prostituees in de gereguleerde .... '-report of which I'm too lazy to put a link to). And I notice while reading Nick Mai's report that he primarily interviewed women who work in flats and that many of the interviewed Eastern European prostitutes are quite old. Eastern European prostitutes are often young. So perhaps not such a random probability sample after all.
But then again, perhaps I really got it all wrong. And that perhaps even in the Netherlands forced prostitution is really much smaller than I imagined. And perhaps that I even did have a too bad impression of the conditions of working in prostitution. And that Metje Blaak and Jo Doezema were just in a bad mood (on the other hand, two women in the Nick Mai report say that they hate the job and one says she needs therapy just to learn how to trust men again, so I mustn't become too enthusiastic).
Times are-a-changing, prostitution is hot, pornography is hot (I'm wavering).
Really totally confused. Time to find a girlfriend.