Friday, May 10, 2013

The gang of the miljardair

This is part 3 of the series in which I try to attack the claims made by former prostitute and madam Maggie McNeill, a.k.a. The Honest Courtesan. There is also a part 1, and a part 2.

Just as in part 2, I want to focus again on her claim that it is a myth that forced prostitutes often don’t dare to speak out. (Actually, she doesn’t believe in forced prostitution or rape at all.)

You can find her blog here:

http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/

This time I want to focus on the notorious Belgian gang which is also known as the ‘bende van de miljardair’ [gang of the Miljardair]. The journalist Chris de Stoop named the gang after one of their sex clubs in Rotterdam called “le millardaire”, which they later renamed into the Ritz. He wrote a book about it called Ze zijn zo lief, Meneer, which was first published in 1992. There also exists an English version of the book called They Are So Sweet, Sir: The Cruel World Of Traffickers In Filipinas And Other Women, which was published in 1994. The Dutch version that I have is the 14th revised edition from 2003 (I don’t have the English version). His book contains many gruesome stories about what the gang did to women: violence, extortion, blackmail, deception, forced abortions etc. But Chris de Stoop sometimes seems to depict the gang members in the darkest light. He overlooks that some women were treated relatively better, but still not very good by the way. I would still label them as forced prostitutes. I believe Chris de Stoop also wrongly assumes that many prostitutes were initially not aware that they were going to work as prostitutes. I guess many suspected this already, although this was not always clearly indicated in the advertisements and brochures spread by the gang.

Sietke Altink has also written about the gang in her book Dossier Vrouwenhandel NL which was published in 1993. An English version of the book also exists, named Stolen Lives: Trading Women into Sex and Slavery which was published in 1996. I both have the Dutch and English version. Her book revolves around several forced prostitution cases in the Netherlands.

Also C.J.C.F. Fijnaut has written about the gang in the book Officier van Justitie versus Bende van de Miljardair: Een analyse van de Rotterdamse strafzaak in de jaren 1989-1991, which was published in 1993. As far as I know, there is only edition of this book. The book mainly describes a failed attempt by the authorities in the years 1989-1991 to sentence and imprison the gang members. This book mainly revolves around four women (belonging to the ballet group Midnight Express XI) who were lured from the Philippines via Cyprus into the Netherlands. They didn’t know they were going to work in prostitution. In Cyprus they didn’t have to work in prostitution, but they escaped when they found out what they had to do in the Netherlands, and pressed charges against the gang members. You can find extensive transcriptions of police interviews with the women in the book.

I found Fijnaut’s book online by the way! You can find it here:

http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=56754

Also Lucie van Mens has written about the gang in her book Prostitutie in bedrijf, Organisatie, management en arbeidsverhoudingen in seksclubs en privéhuizen which was published in 1992. She did this by not explicitly naming the gang members. But they are identified as such by Fijnaut. Lucie van Mens writes in her book about how prostitution is organized in sex clubs (in Rotterdam, but she doesn’t mention the name of the city). Also this book seems to have only one edition.

Basically, these four books are the main sources of information about the gang that I have, except for some short newspaper articles that are still on the internet. All the books basically treat the period prior to 1993. After this period there is very little I can find, unfortunately. The influence of the gang ended after around 1996 when the main leaders were imprisoned and their brothels were taken from them. They were sentenced in the Netherlands, as well as in Belgium. But no information is publicly available about these later court cases.

(EDIT: it seems that for years I have overlooked the book Boter op het hoofd written by former gang member Dirk Trioen. The book was published in 1993. I haven't read the book when I wrote this post. I think I will write about the content of the book in a later post. He writes a lot about the gang of the miljardair.)

Now a prostitute (who writes as Puttana on the internet) who has worked since the late eighties has told me (via blog comments) that she has seen a lot, and that she knows a lot of girls who have worked as nomads throughout Western Europe, and yet nobody knows the gang. She believe that if the gang existed, than it must all have happened on a very small scale. You can read her comments under the following post (in which she writes by the way that forced prostitution is rare, in the present and in the past. But obviously I don’t agree with her. She does acknowledge widespread extortion in the world of prostitution. I see an extorted prostitute as a forced prostitute however, so we disagree on definitions.):

http://zondares.blogspot.nl/2013/04/ingezonden-stukje-opheffing.html

I’m hesitating about what I should specifically write about the gang, because my main focus is the number of victims they reportedly made - reportedly 3000 women in the first six years - compared to the number of women who actually sought help or reported to the police (I guess around 140 in the Netherlands during that time). I want to point out with this that the large majority of victims don’t seek help, as to counter Maggie McNeill. And I want to make it plausible that nearly all these 3000 women must have been treated badly, because it could be for instance possible that the victims who reported to the police or to social workers were the only persons who were treated badly by the gang, while the others could have been treated well. I want to make it plausible that this is not the case. Unfortunately, this task is very difficult, because this case of forced prostitution regarding this gang is very big and extremely complicated. So I will write other pieces about it later. First I want to tell something more in detail about the gang. I want to show that the gang members were REALLY BAD MEN!!! I also want to make clear through examples that not all forced prostitutes dare to speak out. Later on, I will try to handle the numbers.

In the next paragraphs I will follow Chris de Stoop’s book (see pages 42-51). The gang is led by two Belgian men, called Marc V also known as Dikke Mike (Fat Mike), and Robert van E also known as Boss Robert. According to Chris de Stoop Marc V was 21 years old when he was sentenced to 18 months in prison because of a burglary of a store. (Mark V was 40 in 1992). After his release he rushed into the world of cabarets. These cabarets were quickly declining from variété and spectacle into striptease and sex. At the end of the seventies he opened a large number of small strip clubs in Belgium. He was involved in severe violent crimes. It was (according to Chris de Stoop) during those years that the import of exotic girls started to get under way. Via impresarios in Belgium, Monaco and Switzerland he imported women from the whole world. In 1981 he was arrested and charged with forcing women into prostitution, including a Belgian girl whom he made all kinds of promises and for whom he predicted a rosy future. He placed her in a bar in Deinze, called L’interdit. Two years later he was convicted to one year in prison because he ran houses of debauchery. He fled to Switzerland because he let his strip clubs go bankrupt in a fraudulent way. He let some French prostitutes work for him in Switzerland. These women were extradited by the Swiss police. He went with his Surinamese girlfriend to Cannes, where he heavily maltreated her because she refused to work in prostitution for him. The hospital where she healed from her injuries, tipped the police who let him be shadowed and two weeks later he was arrested. In France he received another 18 months for pimping, but in 1984 he was transferred to a prison in Belgium. During a parole he escaped to Rotterdam. He met Robert van E again there whom he knew since the early eighties.

In his younger years Robert van E (Robert van E was 43 in 1992) also regularly came into contact with the police, but later he began to operate several clubs in (Belgian) Limburg. He worked there with several female dancers whom he replaced every month and whom were mostly delivered by the big Hungarian impresario Stephan S. Robert van E also shared an impresario for on and a half years with Zoltan S, the son of Stephan S. Robert van E was involved in other crimes (like theft and keeping a gun).

In 1986 Marc V took over the prestigious Plaza in Rotterdam, which was situated there since the second world war. He gave the cabaret the name Le Milliardaire. In 1987 l’Ambassadeur was opened in which they invested 400000 euro. In the early years they booked many girls from John W, who was the biggest sex impresario in the Netherlands. Later, when they had their own foreign contacts, they decided to start their own impresario. They took over the small artist bureau Strass Shows and renamed it to Stage International Artist Agency. Stage was especially meant to provide their own clubs with women and to arrange their documents centrally, because at that time the police actively started to uphold the foreigners legislation. Le Milliardaire, l’Ambassadeur and Stage International were situated on the ‘s Gravendijkwal. They had three other, smaller clubs. Two were situated in Rotterdam-Zuid and were called the Calander and the My Fair Lady (the latter which they sold later on because it wasn’t profitable). They also had a club in Rotterdam near the tippelzone which they called the Continental. In Eindhoven they opened the Regine’s Club which they quickly closed because it had no separate rooms for prostitution, so they always had to relocate the girls. The building was later taken over by Theo Heuft of the Yab Yum in Amsterdam.

After this, they expanded their activities to Belgium. They started two clubs in the south of Genk, the Maxim’s and the Pin Up, and a bar-américain, the City Corner, in the area around the Glazen Straatje [little glass street], an indoor whore gallery. They took over a club in Brussels, but the fire department didn’t allow them to open it. In 1992 they opened the Pink Cat in Antwerpen. In the meantime they had invested heavily in four clubs in Spain: the Maxim’s, Las Olas and La Noche in Almeria, and Club 21 in Nijar.

A third important member of the gang was Ferry V, also known as Kale Ferry [Bald Ferry] or boss Ferry. Ferry is also a Belgian. In 1987 he was released from a Belgian prison, where he was imprisoned for the murder of a female Dominican dancer in 1984. He immediately moved to Rotterdam where he would terrorize hundreds of other female dancers. He would become the vicious right hand of Marc V and Robert van E. He performed the dirty jobs and maintained the contacts with the criminal underworld. He attracted lots of women, was very well informed, and he was a muscleman and a weapons freak. The women were very afraid of him, because of his bald head cut and his chilling gaze. He intimidated women by telling them that he had cut a girl into pieces. This was not entirely true because he actually had crammed the Dominican girl in a suitcase and dumped her in a river. Ferry V also had a private harem of women who worked in the gang’s clubs and elsewhere; they worked as escorts in an escort agency or behind the window (in window brothels). One female complainant said (see pages 69-70): ‘Ferry treated the girls like animals. The girls told that they were beaten up when they didn’t listen. They were terrified of him.’ When his Kimberly, Cindy, Samantha and others of his private girls did’t earn enough, ‘he took them to the séparé and beat them up.’ One of the worst complaints came from the Thai woman named Tamara. She was brought by the Parisian impresario Wladimir Arapoff as a ‘clerk’ to Rotterdam and was then pushed into prostitution. She was rescued by Kale Ferry, who immediately put her to work as his private whore. Tamara had to work seven days a week, from two o’clock in the afternoon until eight hours in the morning. If she didn’t want to work, she was threatened and beaten by him. She says: ‘When he hit me, he mostly hit me against my head, so that I would be left without a visible injury.’ She stepped to the police, but her complaint ended up under a layer of dust.

On page 71 it is described that also Marc V and Robert van E were violent. Marc V sometimes became so tired of beating women that he let Robert van E do the beatings for him. One of his private girlfriends heard from a Belgian girl that Marc V had brought a number of whores in her house during her absence. She was even shown several Polaroid-photos of these girls. When she (not the girl with the house) complained to him about this, he said that he would deal with the tattletale (the girl with the house). ‘Marc told me later that he visited her and that she wouldn’t forget for the rest of her life what she had told me [that he let whores in her house in her absence]. I asked  what he had done. He told me that he had forced the girl to drink her urine and to eat her defecation. I later heard that the girl was admitted to an asylum of the mentally ill in Belgium.’

Ferry V, Marc V as well as Robert E had their own harem of prostitutes, and some of these prostitutes also had children with the men. They treated especially these prostitutes very badly. This is described throughout Chris de Stoop's book. I have the impression that other prostitutes were relatively treated better by them (but still not good). Chris de Stoop describes (on page 167) that Ferry, Mike (Marc) and Robert each had between 5 and 10 'princesses' at their disposal, who handed all their income to them. The men boasted that they had one girl for the rent of the house, one girl for financing the car, one girl for visiting restaurants, etc... They spread their girls around several clubs so the women weren't aware of each others's existence. Only Ferry took his all girlfriends to a restaurant at the same time. On page 134 of Chris de Stoop's book you can read that they even sold their girlfriends to others every now and then.

Lucie van Mens tells something about one of the clubs belonging to the gang. As I told before, she doesn’t speficially mention who the owners of operators of the clubs are. She didn’t even name the city where the brothels are situated. This is all to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. But according to Fijnaut, the city is Rotterdam, and a brothel is described which is a brothel belonging to the gang. She names this brothel Bedrijf D [Business D]. Probably she means Le Milliardaire, but it could also be l’Ambassadeur (but I think it is the former, because the latter had a complete former hotel above it with many more rooms which were used as brothel rooms; room number ‘19’ is mentioned on page 96 in Chris de Stoop’s book). Another brothel is described who has the same owner but which is not led by the gang of the miljardair (it turns out that these two brothels are part of a chain of 14 brothels in Rotterdam, I will explain this later because this is complicated). She calls this brothel Bedrijf C which is situated according to her in the same street ('s-Gravendijkwal). It is a big brothel where between 30 and 40 women work. I have the gut feeling that this is Club OQ. But I will describe how Lucie van Mens describes one of the gang’s brothels. I will follow the text quite literally (see pages 157-160).

She describes that business D is a sex club from the chain of fourteen described earlier [in the book], and it is rented by a non-Dutch operator for 7000 guilders per week. Between ten and twenty women work there. The operator also has an own impresario which delivers artists-prostitutes for his own business and for other businesses. The club lies in the same street as C. There has been a lot less invested in the several facilities compared to C. There is a bar and a podium and there are eight rooms (where the prostitute and the client can have sex) with sanitary facilities which have been furnished variedly, which is discounted in the price.
The operator outsources the largest part of the activities. Because he also is the associate boss of an impresario, he programs the performances himself and he recruits artists for that purpose. The daily course of business is in the hands of doormen and bar personnel who in general are originating from the same country as D. The club is opened between eight o’clock in the evening and four o’clock in the morning, during the Sunday it is closed.
The entrance fee is 35 guilders and the clients receive three drink vouchers for that. The prices for sexual contact with a prostitute are less clear than in C. Depending on the décor of the room the clients pay as a minimum between 200 and 250 guilders per half an hour.
The club profiles itself as a cabaret/nightclub. The artists however mainly give striptease shows. The clients are only allowed to offer them champagne – in reality a surrogate. Clients are recruited via leaflets among other things, which are placed under the wipers of cars – which are parked in the neighbourhood of luxurious hotels and the local casino. The text mentions performances and the presence of hostesses.
The policy in the club is aimed at letting the client spend as much as possible, and when he doesn’t do this, one uses improper methods to achieve this. Clients are manipulated by way of excessive use of alcohol and the result of this is that they have no insight into what they spend. Dutch prostitutes who have worked in this club, indicate that sometimes they were encouraged to steal from the client. One also tries to withdraw more money from the credit-account. A credit card company decided after complaints of a client not to offer its services to the club. This doesn’t mean however that it is not possible anymore to pay with these particular credit cards. Several clubs work together in this field and are willing to process payment transactions for each other. Because a segment of the clubs are a stone’s throw away from each other, this collaboration is easy.
The majority of the women in club D are contracted as artists. The earnings as an artist and champagne drinker – they also receive a commission of ten percent of the drink offered to them – stay low. Because drinking with clients often happens ‘séparé’, where the clients can grope the hostesses without limitations, a blurring of boundaries is created between drinking with clients and prostitution. Once the physical contact takes place in the room (where clients and prostitutes have sex with each other), the women receive extra money for this and a segment of the artists also start doing this. Because there is a virtual constant situation of intimidation the women don’t dare to refuse. The flow of women in and out of the clubs is large. The artists are not allowed to work longer than three consecutive months in the Netherlands. Dutch women who sometimes start working in the club, find the atmosphere bad and leave quickly.
Especially the foreign women are subjected to all kinds of house rules, which renders them a financial fine after a violation. When they appear more than once (more than) ten minutes too late in the club, they have to pay fifty guilders. When they are spotted with a client (man) outside of the club, then it costs them a week salary. The foreign women live in the club and pay 75 guilders per week for this. They sleep with five or six persons in one room.
The wage policy in business D is ambiguous. The artists daily receive a fixed amount of money for their performances, which depending on the contract is between 40 and 125 guilders. When the artists also provide sexual services then the client pays at least between 200 and 250 guilders. The migrant prostitutes receive between 75 and 85 guilders of this. For women who don’t provide performances, other conditions apply. This refers generally to Dutch prostitutes, who generally stay in the club for a short while. They pay 75 or 85 guilders for the rent of the room, and the rest of what the client pays is for themselves.
The discrepancy in payments is defended by the fact that the artists already have a fixed income. In addition, there has been mediation for them – the impresario has after all insured that they came working in the club – and this cost money, which is earned back this way.
Women who are new in the profession are not instructed concerning the protective measures against venereal diseases. The policy concerning medical checkups is cloudy. There are periods that nothing is done about this, and then the foreigners all go simultaneously under supervision of a female assistant to a policlinic. They are not only checked for diseases, but they also receive information about condom use and they are given birth control pills. Women who are diagnosed with an illness, are not allowed to prostitute themselves, but continue to provide performances and drink with clients. They choose this themselves, because they, when they don’t work, also don’t earn money, while they do have costs concerning medicines. The foreigners are generally not insured against medical costs.
The number of clients who visit the club varies. Because the club stays open longer than other clubs, namely until four o’clock in the morning, clients still come especially in the early hours. Just as in business C, not everybody makes use of the possibility to retreat with a prostitute. A number of around twenty men do just this and they pay at least 200 guilders for a room. The daily turnover from sexual services is therefore 4000 guilders at least. On a weekly basis this is 24000 guilders and on a yearly basis this yields a minimal turnover of 1248000 guilders. Because most of the women work on a contractual basis as an artist, they receive a third of this amount. The minimum turnover for the operator from his ‘room rent’ is therefore 832000 guilders.
As indicated, drinking alcohol in club D is very much stimulated. In addition, the clients offer the hostesses only expensive drinks – champagne. Because it doesn’t involve real champagne but a bubbling surrogate with a low percentage of alcohol, the income from beverage sales are an important source of income.

She explains further on pages 161-162 that D exceeds all boundaries which could be called decent and reliable. Not only with respect to the prostitutes but also with respect to the clients. He aims at letting the clients spend as much money as possible and doesn’t fear unfair practices while doing this. The degree of independence of the migrant-prostitutes is virtually nil. They have no ability to negotiate with the client. The provision of physical services partly happens for free in the so-called séparé’s. The women are hired as artists, but because of the overall approach within the club the boundary blurs between the function of artist/hostess and prostitute. Especially because the salaries which the women earn are low. This in contrast with costs of lodging within the club.
It is highly questionable whether due to the general circumstances under which the artists work, one mustn’t explicitly speak of coercion to work in prostitution. This coercion also expresses itself in the fact that the women are paid badly as a prostitute. Some information about procedures and condom use is lacking, while the monitoring of STIs stays absent during some periods. Because the women have long working hours and they also have hardly any freedom of movement outside the club, it can be hardly expected from them, that they take care of their own physical wellbeing in this area. Especially not, because it involves foreigners who only stay for a short while – three months – in the Netherlands. They don’t know the city, or the language and they don’t know how healthcare is organized in the Netherlands. They are not insured against health costs and therefore could also have financial reasons to avoid the medical circuit.

Now how does Chris de Stoop describe the situation in the clubs of the gang? On pages 72-75 of his book (I will follow him literally) he describes that the brutal work was done by the corporals of the gang, especially Johan ‘Animal’ G and ‘Big John’ D. One of the complainants said that ‘Johan G is the biggest beast who walks around. I will be happy when he will be cleared away. He maltreated the girls and took their money. He is coldblooded. He lets four, five girls play whore for him while they have to hand over all their money to him.’ A maintenance man confirmed this to the police. ‘Especially G is the man in the Miljardair who made it hard for the girls. He puts the girls under pressure, he beats them and drags them upstairs by the hair.’ His colleague John D once had to be quickly removed from the Maxim’s in Gent, because he had molested a Philippine woman there. The women were continuously intimidated and threatened: something bad could happen to themselves or their family. When the men knew one Philippine word, it was ‘patay’ [dead], an expression which was always accompanied by a cutting gesture under the throat. In her complaint, Angie said: ‘I am afraid that I will be beaten up by the bouncers of Ferry, Marc and Robert’. Anabel said: ‘I am afraid that because of my complaint something will be done to my family’. Anabel was subsequently deported by the police of Rotterdam. Jessica’s aunt in the Philippines indeed received a telephone call by one the gang members. They were filled with anxiety, even when they had left the gang a long time ago. They never told their family what kind of work they did in Europe, and they were also blackmailed with this. In the bars and little rooms of the Miljardair and the Ambassadeur they were filmed by video cameras. In the Maxim’s pictures were made sometimes, with the threat to send these to their country of birth. To break the contact with their family, their mail was torn and they weren’t allowed to make telephone calls.
Several girls testified that they received more beatings than food. The Philippine Anafe said to the police that she had run away from the clubs because she didn’t receive money and food anymore, and she was neglected because of this. The female dancers, who had escaped the poverty in their own country, also here lived on the edge of starvation. One ballet, which consisted of six or more female dancers, had to cope with fifty euro per week in order to eat. Anafe also complained about the accommodation: it froze in her room above the Florida. The girls mostly slept above the clubs, sometimes with the seven of them in one little room, with the three or four of them in one bed, or on mattresses on the floor. According to one police report in Gent, the living conditions were ‘abominable’. Most women lodged there above the City Corner, although the building was rejected as a lodging house by the fire department. Others stayed in dilapidated rooms above the Maxim’s and the Pin Up, which had no license at all to let people lodge there. Also the My Fair Lady in Rotterdam received an insufficient mark from the Hygienic Inspection: ‘The kitchen and the toilets are dirty and must be thoroughly cleaned. In the shortest possible time, an extermination against cockroaches and mice has to take place.’
So it was no wonder that some girls developed an open tuberculosis and that the gang needed good relationships with doctors. They however also had other tasks. This way the physical examinations would also allow them to know the degree of virginity. The dance groups were after all screened thoroughly after their arrival. When the virgins wanted to go to a separate room with a client, higher tariffs were asked. When they weren’t easily persuadable, which was almost always the case, they sent them to Belgium only to strip and to drink with clients. In the spring of 1990 the group Lady Ann Ballet II arrived in the Netherlands: of the nine girls, seven were virgins and four were minors. They had signed a contract in Manila for two years. They had to work seven days per week, sometimes two shifts of eight hours per day, ‘even when we were menstruating’. The often hysterical virgins put a lot of pressure on the shoulders of other women. This way, the Thai woman named Tic sacrificed herself after much struggling, to go upstairs with a client: ‘Because I was already married, I went in place of Noy.’
Their health was undermined even more because they were coerced to consume as much alcohol as possible. They had to reach at least the quota of one bottle of champagne per night, then they were already ‘profitable’. But the most popular girls were filled up by the clients with seven bottles. Mostly this involved cider, of which the acidity made them ill over time. If it concerned real champagne, they became dead drunk, nauseous and addicted in the long run. You’ll get used to it, is was said. In order not to become too fat from the drink, some had to take slimming pills at the same time. Because of the daily use of alcohol they became more and more groggy and tired, which decreased their resistance against going to a separate room with a client. Roberto, the former manager of the Maxim’s, said that the personnel sold drugs to the girls for that purpose. In Rotterdam, drugs and medicines were sometimes put into the drinks, ‘so that they let everything happen, even SM, which yielded an extra lot,’ said waiter Paco. Other products had to keep them longer awake and active: ‘In Rotterdam one sometimes worked with pervitine, an old-fashioned stimulant for cyclists, which is as good as tasteless in a glass of vodka.’

One pages 164-165 of his book, Chris de Stoop describes that the gang made phenomenal profits with the sale of beverages. The gang determined exactly how many minutes a girl had to spend with a man for a piccolo. In return the clients were permitted some ‘fumbling’ or they received a ‘French massage’ in the séparé, although it occurred in businesses like the Calander that they were simply jerked off while standing behind the bar. The girl didn’t receive anything for this, only her commission of ten percent on drink. For a complete fuck in the little rooms clients obviously had to pay separately, and this cost the same as a bottle of champagne: 90 euro [200 guilders] for half an hour. The time was measured. Girls who stayed in the room two minutes too long, received a fine. The clients had to be finished one by one, like on a conveyor belt.
In the Belgian cabarets the sex was theoretically limited to Kleenex-sex. But also in the séparés in Gent some clients went ‘all the way’, and occasionally this was also allowed in the rooms above the Maxim’s, the Pin Up or the City Corner. The Belgian as well as the Dutch clubs also worked with escort services, of which sums of between 350 and 500 euro [770 and 1100 guilders] were charged per customer. The girls themselves kept only between ten and twenty percent of the escort money.

Chris de Stoop also describes (on page 165) like Lucie van Mens how the gang tricks clients with creditcards, and that often much more money was withdrawn from the accounts than agreed. Now it strikes me that Lucie van Mens doesn’t describe the women not knowing they were going to strip or work in prostitution. Didn’t she notice that? And it is interesting to see that both Chris de Stoop and Lucie van Mens describe that the victims did receive some money. The victims were handed 30% of the money they received from the clients for sex, and 10% of the earnings from the selling of beverages. This is ironic because a prostitute in a luxurious sex club (Club LV in Amsterdam) complained to me that she only received one third of what the client paid. This is not far from the percentage that the gang of the Miljardair gave their prostitutes. But I believe that in Club LV the taxes the women have to pay to the government are already deducted. I think in the case of the gang of the Miljardair the exploitation lies more in how the women were treated than how well they were paid, because this was not unusual in other brothels. The conditions in their clubs were simply extremely bad. The women were intimidated and had to live in very filthy conditions. They had to drink large amounts of alcohol or acidic drinks which made them sick. And the women had to accept unwanted sex. This last point is a problem for defenders of prostitution, because isn’t almost all sex that prostitutes offer unwanted? It is difficult to draw the line here.

In this light it is interesting to compare the conditions of the brothels belonging to the gang with the conditions of business C described by Lucie van Mens (see page 154-157 of her book, I don’t follow the text exactly here). This is a big club with many prostitutes, between 30 and 40 women work there. In the afternoon only some women are present. But during the evening basically all women are present. This club is in the same street as business D where also many other brothels are situated (such as Butterfly Nachtclub, Delight, Lido Nightclub, Massagesalon 93, Eroticbar Club OQ, Promiss, Samantha Privé and Sauna Spartacus). As I said before, due to its size and luxury, I believe this could be Eroticbar Club OQ. There is a bar in business C, a show podium, a big tv screen which shows porn movies, a sauna, a whirlpool and a large waterbed. There are twelve rooms where clients and prostitutes can retreat. The club advertises in newspapers with large advertisements. This club recruits women via newspapers, but also via impresarios. Also the women in this club receive fines if they disobey. They are given a fine of 25 guilders when they don’t leave the room in the same state as before, for instance when they leave books are cigarettes behind. When they stay too long in the room, they receive a fine of 50 guilders per 10 minutes. The women are allowed to refuse clients however. Barmen and doormen are very controlling and some let the women know in an irritating fashion if they do or don’t like them. Prostitutes complain that one of the members of the staff couldn’t keep his hands to himself. Just like in business D, the women receive 10% of the turnover from the sale of beverages. But contrary to other clubs, the women in business C are offered beverages with a high percentage of alcohol. Lots of cocaine is used in this club, both by the clients and the prostitutes. The commission on beverages is paid to the prostitutes every week, to keep them motivated to stay there, and to avoid administrative hassles. The club doesn’t interfere with the private lives of prostitutes. When the prostitutes have big problems with for instance a pimp, then the club doesn’t interfere. If the women want this, they can sleep in the brothel, for 185 guilders per week for a room with a bath, and 100 guilders per week for a room without a bath. Of the 150 guilders which the clients pay per half an hour to retreat with a prostitute to a room, the prostitute pays 50 guilders for the rent of the room. A prostitute receives 100 guilders per half an hour, regardless if the women came independently or via a mediator. It seems to me that the situation is business C is very similar to business D. Only the women are paid much more compared to business D. The drugs, the alcohol, the harassment, the fines, it’s the same.

In the book written by Fijnaut you can read some passages which sometimes make you doubt if the gang was always this evil. It seems sometimes they treated the women with a relative amount of respect. You don’t see this in Chris de Stoop’s book. Fijnaut cites (on page 81) from the magazine Keerpunt [turning point] (1993, pages 1-5), which was issued by the Foundation against Trafficking in Women. There’s an interview in the magazine with a Polish female feminist, living in the Netherlands. At one point she tells: ‘In Rotterdam I met a girl, 21 years old, who worked as a hostess and prostitute in the [a club belonging to the gang]. She was here since three months and came from a little village. She had responded to an advertisement, in which hostesses were recruited. Initially she only received a little brochure. In the meantime she worked as an assistant in a bakery. Boring work, mostly during the night, low income. Gradually, it started to become a challenge for her, something that attracted her. That she wouldn’t be working in this dirty bakery, but that she would sit somewhere dressed elegantly. And at a given moment she decided to go, she thought: I can survive for three months anyway, what is three months. She is simply a decent girl, her mother brought her to the agency, from there she went with a little bus to the Netherlands. It turned out here that she had to present herself topless, that she had to perform gogo-shows. She eventually accepted this. She didn’t know this beforehand: it wasn’t very clear to her. But what can you expect? I believe this advertisement wasn’t all too badly concealed. I have described these psychological considerations in such a way because I believe that many of these girls have this sort of motivation. Look, she didn’t protest, so I believe she is not a victim of trafficking in women, although more is demanded from her than was initially agreed. I had visited her in her apartment, everything neat and tidy, she very elegant, you can imagine that this is something which she appreciates a lot. Her mother was visiting her for a week… This is what she could achieve with this. I think that many women who work here have such a motivation’.

I find this story peculiar, but also not too surprising. Chris de Stoop and Lucie van Mens describe the situation in the brothel(s) as particularly bad, so this is a fact to me. The situation for the Polish girl must have been bad too. You can see it in two ways. Either way you can see this Polish woman as not forced because ultimately she accepted her fate, … or you see her as a victim who doesn’t dare to stand up against her oppressors. This particular case could be one explanation why victims of forced prostitution say to police officers that they are not coerced: they have simply given up fighting, they simply prefer the little money they earn above going home empty-handed.

Then I move to another event in Fijnaut’s book (see page 102) which is also described by Chris de Stoop (on page 18 of his book). At one point, gang members were arrested and a brothel was raided. On December the 12th 1989, the police removed 15 foreign women from one of the clubs belonging to the gang (probably l’Ambassadeur as decribed by Chris de Stoop). Except for one, they all resided legally in the Netherlands. A number of them were about to travel to Belgium, the others stayed for a while in the club. Now what did these women tell the police? Indeed, they told that they worked voluntarily in prostitution. Each and every one of these women told that they were coerced by nobody to ‘go upstairs’ with the clients, and that they were neatly paid per day. You can also see this in two ways: or the gang indeed wasn’t so evil, or for some reason the women were too afraid or too lethargic to tell the truth. But in my opinion the situation in the club(s) described by Chris de Stoop and Lucie van Mens is all too clear. I see this again as proof that victims of forced prostitution could be too afraid or too unwilling to say they are coerced or exploited. By the way, the stories of the fifteen women contrasted strongly with the story of a woman who was affiliated with one of the gang members. She declared that, after her arrival in Rotterdam, she was fairly quickly informed that when she didn’t strip, she would not be paid, and, after a while, it became a matter of having sex with the clients, especially men with credit cards; eventually she has done this a couple of times, also to make money for the family.

Detectives of the aliens police were also interviewed (see Fijnaut, pages 111-112) as part of the police investigation against the gang. Since 1987 they were given the task to strictly enforce the foreigners law in the world of prostitution. On March the 20th 1990 the first was interviewed by the examining judge. Did he encounter forced prostitutes? As far as he knew there was among the women who worked in the clubs ‘no fear to press charges regarding potential forced prostitution’. After the intensification of the control measures in 1987 the situation was such that at any time they ‘could speak with all the women who wished to do so under the circumstances which they desired themselves. The women had our work phone numbers at their disposal. We regularly encounter the women on the street, from which I can derive that they can move around freely.’ However, he is convinced that there was one case, in 1988, which clearly involved forced prostitution. Another detective of the aliens police agreed with his colleague, but he admitted that in the period 1987-1989 ‘a number of individual women and a group of women did come to us with the message that they had to prostitute themselves in the clubs (...), which they didn’t want to. We have sent these women regarding a complaint to the J.Z.P [Jeugd- en Zedenpolitie = Youth and Vice Police] in the Haagseveer. (...) I remember that in just one case an official report has been drawn up by the J.Z.P.’

This is again proof to me that victims of forced prostitution rarely trust the police, and can behave as if they work voluntarily in prostitution. Or else these aliens policemen would have easily noticed forced prostitution.

You can read in Fijnaut’s book that all the arrested members of the gang denied that they forced women into prostitution. Except for one. This is probably Mike V, who is also described in Chris de Stoop’s book. He was arrested on the same day as the brothel raid. He made some very incriminating statements (see pages 98-99 of Fijnaut’s book). He says that in the clubs women are forced into prostitution by the management, around 30 women have supposedly left the club during the last year because of underpayment, some women supposedly had working days of 18 hours, etc... This man had to be sheltered by the police on a safe address. Later he made more incriminating statements. He claimed that via the gang around 600 women were put to work across Europe - especially the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy; in this respect he named around 20 sex clubs in Belgium, especially Flanders, which were supplied by women partly through mediation from Rotterdam. He also gave a picture of the income which the clubs in Rotterdam generated daily, via the sale of beverages, via the slot machines and also via real prostitution, so more than just (nude-) dancing and hosting (which the gang members openly denied). Concerning the latter he declared that - based on numerous examples - that many women in the clubs were forced in many ways - (threatening with) violence, checking the mail of family members, withholding money - to prostitute themselves, and to hand over a large part of the money, if not all money, that they earned with this. He also told gruesome stories about sexual abuse and blackmail of foreign women, and about blatant extortion of a client who accompanied a 'girlfriend' of one suspect. He also confirmed, down to the smallest details, the statements of the female complainants about their experiences in the sex clubs in Rotterdam, Brabant and Belgium. On page 109 of Fijnaut’s book you can read that one member of the gang (probable also Mike V) said that most women didn't know beforehand 'that they had to play the whore here'.

I want to move to an event described in Chris de Stoop’s book (on pages 92-94). He describes a police raid in the Pink Cat in February 1992. This is a club in Antwerpen in Belgium. There were Philippine, Brazilian, Polish and Hungarian women in this club. All the girls were arrested because they had no identity papers. The operator of the club had actually reported them to the aliens police, where all 19 women had sat on the floor for hours, but he was said that he had to return two days later. In the meantime the police struck. The women were brought to several prisons in Belgium. The women didn’t know they were in Belgium because they were recruited with identity papers destined for the Netherlands. They were brought with a van from Rotterdam to Belgium. In the police cell they were visited one by one by the gang’s lawyer Victor W, who swore to them to keep their mouths shut. The girls were expelled to the Netherlands. In the office of Stage International in Rotterdam, Marc V and Ferry V were waiting in stress: did the girls betray them or lodge a complaint? Then the liberating call came from the aliens police that they could collect the girls. One by one they were interrogated by the gang. The gang celebrated extensively. Chris de Stoop visited the women in the clubs. The Brazilian Helena said: ‘About what should I complain? I drink seven bottles per night. I may do what I want. If I want to go kaputt, then I will go kaputt’. A month after the raid on the Pink Cat, the operator of the brothel was found dead. To be short and sweet, this episode is again a proof that forced prostitutes for whatever reasons could be too afraid to call in the help of the police. It is interesting to notice here that some forced prostitutes apparently are instructed by their exploiters not to testify against them to the police.

Chris de Stoop also describes an event in his book (on page 99-102) which I find important to mention. He describes a certain Nikos B who at one point became the impresario of Stage International. One of his girls was the 21-years-old Luz of the Lady Ann Ballet 10. She truly believed that she would become a dancer, and she and the other women of her group even attended dancing lessons in Manila, which were provided by Mamy G who was a trafficker in women, and who did business with Nikos. Luz told it was really her dream to have a dancing career and the family G even said to her that they would perform in television shows. But after they arrived in Rotterdam, Nikos said that the costumes weren’t ready yet. He brought them to a shop to buy provisional clothing; tiny bras and panties. The first evening they danced with these clothes in Le Milliardaire. The next day they had to do it naked. ‘We cried and we refused. But two girls had children in the Philippines and they said after a while: we are here in Europe now, we must earn money, and nobody sees us anyway. So we just did it. Later Johan G, whom the Philippine girls called Mabaho, the stinker, said that we had to drink with the clients in the séparé and let ourselves be groped. Threats were made then already. If we didn’t do it, we received no papers, no money, and no return ticket. We were especially afraid of the tiger eyes of Ferry. Mabaho said: in the séparé you can always secretly pour the drink under the table. But the first time, I threw it on the trouser legs of the client, so he became angry. Mabaho also said that we always had to smile like a movie star, but I was so unhappy, I couldn’t smile. Several weeks later Mabaho came to us again. He made a vulgar gesture, with the thumb between the index and middle finger. He wanted us to go upstairs with the clients. He said: okay, now the vacation is over!’ She eventually fled, but also after this she lived in stress and in hiding.

The gang also had clubs in Spain but little is mentioned about these clubs. Chris de Stoop shortly describes these clubs on pages 77-78 of his book. He tells that on April the 30th 1992 their local manager in Spain, Christian P, was shot dead. The gang teamed up with him to exploit several brothels in Almeria. He already had a small club there. The gang invested a lot of money in the brothel and they renamed it into Maxim’s. They sent their own girls and personnel. The profits were enormous and the profit was invested in two other clubs: La Noche and Club 21. Christian P first got into trouble when two Brazilian women reported him to the Guardia Civil. They were smuggled via Portugal to Spain with a contract which stipulated that they would earn 2600 dollar per month as stars in show halls. They never saw this money, and they were forced into prostitution and were held against their will. This happened in club Maxim’s among other places. The fatal blow came when the police raided his brothels. 22 Dominican dancers were detained. They were put to work without the right documents. Christian P ended up in prison. The girls said that they were recruited with false promises, that they had to work two months for free to be able to pay back the costs, that their passports were taken from them, and that they had to prostitute themselves. After five months in prison, Christian P was released on bail. One month later he was shot dead in front of the door of Club 21. The Guardia Civil arrested a Spaniard and a Belgian, who had contacts with the gang of the miljardair. In the club La Noche a load of explosives, igniters, and other material for bombs was found. The Spanish press called the Maxim’s the epicentre of the mafia of trafficking in women, and the police regarded Christian P as one of the leaders. Put they didn’t penetrate to the moneylenders behind them: the gang of the miljardair.

As a final proof that the gang was really evil, I want to move to a section from Sietske Altink’s book (on pages 108-111 of the English version of her book, and on pages 102-105 of the Dutch version of her book). One operator of a brothel near Le Milliardaire says: ‘Sometimes the girls from the [Milliardaire] Club come in here crying. I help them and take them to a hotel. And then what happens? The police can’t find the time to investigate the complaints against the gang.’ (This was probably somewhere in 1992). Some weeks after Sietske Altink had this conversation with the operator of this brothel, some Polish women turned up on the doorstep of this brothel. One of them was Kasha, aged 22. Kasha told that she saw an advertisement in a regional Polish newspaper for waitresses and receptionists. She responded and received a lot of glossy brochures. After a few weeks she decided to go, because she wasn’t happy with the butcher’s where she worked. Besides, she only had to go to the Netherlands for three months. She thought she could manage this. (This story looks remarkably similar to the one quoted by Fijnaut). She phoned a guy named Lech (Alec in the Dutch version of the book, probably this person is Laslo D). Lech was a former school teacher who had recruited some 500 women from all over Poland for the gang (according to Sietske Altink). He said she could leave within a couple of days. Kasha travelled by bus with six other girls. Two girls quit in Rotterdam. She had second thoughts too, but she didn’t want to go through a lot of trouble for nothing. And after all, she would be working in an ordinary office anyway. After the arrival she stayed in a hotel. The next day she and her travel companions were taken to an apartment above the night club which she described as ‘terribly dirty’. The following morning the girls had to go into the office one by one and introduce themselves. The women were ordered to undress. She found this strange, but she thought they only wanted to know if she washed herself regularly. She was handed a contract which offered her a standard 30 guilders a day, and an additional 50 guilders for performances. She would also receive 10% of the profits on the champagne consumed by the clients. She could also be fined 500 guilders if she broke her contract, left within three months, if she left the club during working hours, or if she was absent from her work. She was surprised that she would not become a receptionist but an artist. Later she discovered that this meant striptease and prostitution. She only realized it when they were ushered into the club. A Polish woman who had been working there for some time tried to encourage them: “It’s not as bad as it seems,” she said. It turned out that she was the new girlfriend of Kale Ferry. Alec had befriended the girls who came before them, so they were of no use either. The boss said that if they didn’t have sex with the clients then they wouldn’t be paid. The Polish women were never beaten, one glance by the bosses was enough to let them obey. Kasha was especially afraid of ‘these scary eyes of Johan, the boss.’ She didn’t know of the violent reputation of Kale Ferry, she only knew he had girls behind the windows in Belgium. The gang threatened the Polish women that they had to go to Belgium, where they would earn nothing. The eventual salary was substantially less than what an emancipated prostitute would accept. Above all, the Polish women were not allowed to refuse clients. Kasha persevered for two months. One night she passed the nightclub near le milliardaire with the other women. They started talking to the doormen and complained about their wages. He heard these stories before and introduced them to the manager, who offered them jobs with better conditions. They accepted and were paid the usual fees for sleeping with punters. This time Kasha was allowed to refuse clients. After a few weeks Kasha’s mother came to visit her in the Netherlands. (Here this story is again very similar to the story quoted by Fijnaut). She was told that Kasha only had to drink champagne with her customers, which was not true. The story ends when the Polish women press charges, and the police is unwilling to go further with the case because they couldn’t find supporting evidence, and because the women were not beaten or something.

Now I want to deal with the numbers. I want to do it this way. There is some information about how many victims of the gang sought help in the Netherlands or who reported to the police. (Unfortunately, I have no such information of victims in other countries.) There is also some information of how many victims the gang made in total. Chris de Stoop had a long conversation on May 19th 1992 with the gang leaders Marc V and Robert van E in the restaurant François in Brussel, in the presence of their attorney Victor W (see page 22). This conversation happened after they had won a court case in Rotterdam in which they were charged with forced prostitution. (They were acquitted because the victims were repatriated to the Philippines, which according to the court violated the rights of the accused.) It was during this conversation that Marc V said that they imported 500 women per year, and that therefore it is impossible that they force women in prostitution, because how can they force that many women in prostitution? And Marc V said, they always first ask the women the question if they want to go upstairs to a room with a client. If they don’t want this they can go to Belgium where there are no separate rooms.

Now the point is, what does Marc V mean when he says that they imported 500 women per year? Does he mean to the Netherlands? Or to the other European countries? The fact of the matter is that the gang operated throughout several European countries. For instance, their clubs were situated in the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. They had roughly a dozen clubs; 4 or 5 in the Netherlands, 4 in Belgium, and 4 in Spain. And above all, they operated an impresario Stage International which also delivered women to other brothels other than their own sex clubs. Interestingly, Lucie van Mens tells that the particular club (which Fijnaut identifies as a club belonging to the gang of the miljardair) belongs to a chain of 14 sex clubs in Rotterdam. She could see that in the land registry. The 14 clubs were registered as two separate companies, with a man and a woman as managers of these companies. But one company requested the mortgage of the buildings of the other companies. This is peculiar. You can read in Lucie van Mens’ book that the operator of another club belonging to the chain didn’t own the building but rented it from the owner. I believe the gang of the miljardair also didn’t own the buildings themselves, but they rented the buildings from a different owner who wasn’t involved in running the brothels. Now Sietske Altink seems to believe that the gang owned half the brothels in Rotterdam (she tells this in her English book), but I think she is mistaken.

So what does Marc V mean with that they imported 500 women per year? I believe that, given the context, he means they imported 500 women per year to the Netherlands. The court case was held in the Netherlands, so it would be silly if Marc V would take the other countries into account, because they were not charged with forcing women in prostitution in other countries. Above all, why would he say that they would send the women to Belgium if for instance, the women had arrived in Spain first. After all, the Netherlands is in closer proximity to Belgium. So I believe, given the context, that Marc V means that they imported 500 women per year into the Netherlands. In six years time (1987-1992) this would lead to 3000 women as a whole who were transported to the Netherlands (assuming that the same women were not imported several times into the Netherlands).

But those 3000 women didn’t all work in the Netherlands at any time; they circulated between countries. So it is possible that the women asked for help in other countries than the Netherlands. After all, I have no information about the number of women who sought help abroad. I will make the tacit assumption that when the women didn’t seek help in the Netherlands, that this is because they did this abroad, so I will multiply the number of women who sought help in the Netherlands by a particular number. I will make a rough guess of what fraction of the women stayed abroad at any time. I will do this by looking at the number of brothels the gang had in each country. There were 4 or 5 clubs in the Netherlands and 8 abroad, so roughly two thirds of their clubs were located abroad. I will later multiply the number of women who sought help in the Netherlands by three.

Now it could be true that the gang members were just bragging that they imported 500 women per year. But given the number of brothels they operated in the Netherlands (around 4 or 5) this could be true. In Fijnaut’s book you can read (on page 84) that in 1987 the aliens police registered 208 women. But it’s not clear if they mean the clubs belong to the gang, or all the clubs in Rotterdam. I think the latter. That’s clearly lower than 500 women, but this is years before they made the claim that they imported 500 women per year. In the meantime the influx could have increased. Another possibility is that simply not all women were registered.

The gang must have had on average 500 women divided over approximately 4 or 5 brothels, in one year. That’s 100-125 prostitutes per club per year. That’s a lot, but sex clubs often have many women working in their service (contrary to so-called ‘privéhuizen’ which often only have around 5-20 women, the sex club Yab Yum had for instance 60 women). If 100-125 prostitutes per club is true, many women must have left the brothels very quickly. You can read in the book written by Fijnaut (on page 83) that indeed the aliens police in Rotterdam didn’t allow the foreign women to stay more than 3 months. This is also confirmed by Lucie van Mens (see page 158). So on average the gang had to replace the women every 3 months; that’s four times a year. So they didn’t have many more than 25-36 women in their brothels at each time.

Chris de Stoop says (on page 15) that the big cabarets in the Netherlands had 20 women in their service (I believe he means le Milliardaire and l’Ambassadeur). Fijnaut describes (on page 102) that on December the 12th 1989, the police removed 15 foreign women from one of the clubs belonging to the gang. I think this must be l’Ambassadeur (because I believe the same raid is also described by Chris de Stoop on page 18 of his book). A manager of Le Milliardair says to Sietske Altink that he has 20 ‘broads’ in his club. Lucie van Mens says of a brothel belonging to the gang that between 10 and 20 women worked there. The gang also had three ‘smaller’ clubs in Rotterdam, according to Chris de Stoop (see page 161). No amounts of prostitutes who worked in these clubs are indicated. At first sight, at least 25 women per club seems to be a tiny bit too high, between 10 and 20 seems more realistic. But the gang members also sold women to other pimps and clubs. And women escaped (often to other brothels) every now and then so they had to replace them (as described in several places in Chris de Stoop’s book). So in my opinion, 500 women whom the gang says they imported each year is only plausible when many women escaped or when the gang delivered many women to others. But, an 'insider' told Chris de Stoop (see page 135 of his book) that 'they see it as a product that should be paid off and earned back within two months at most'. Stage International even maintained lists of runaways. Chris de Stoop describes that men lurked around the clubs of the gang to rescue prostitutes and deliver them to other brothels. These men were even paid by some brothel owners to do this (see page 142). So, if the women left the gang within two months, then the 500 imported women should be divided by 6 (instead of 4), and then you arrive at between 16 and 21 prostitutes per brothel. And this makes more sense.

I have once calculated after studying many (48) Dutch brothel websites that on average about 12 women (plus or minus two) work in brothels in general. I think assuming that 12 women worked in each brothel belonging to the gang, then 12 (women) times 5 (clubs) times 4 (three-month periods) = 240 women seems more realistic. In case of 6 two-month periods, then it would be 360. So 500 women seems still too high. But let's assume that the remaining women were delivered to others brothels, and then it makes sense. Now Puttana doesn’t agree with me about the number of women per brothel. She says that the foreign women work fulltime to earn as much money as they possibly can, and often clubs don’t need more than 5 or 6 women present at each moment. So in that case a number of 6 X 5 X 4 = 120 women per year would be more realistic (or 180 if you assume that women don't stay longer than 2 months).

In the book written by Fijnaut you can read (on page 107) that in connection with the prosecution of the gang members, a survey was made of women who were named as possible victims of trafficking in women, in testimonies, in police reports, in tip-forms, etc…. This survey contained the names of roughly 50 women from all parts of the world: Eastern Asia, South America, Africa, Western Europe. In the first weeks of Januari 1990, some of these women were interviewed by the police. The stories of the women varied enormously. Some women kept silent or made nondescript statements. Other women didn’t call themselves victims of trafficking in women, but made statements which pointed to the contrary: being lured to the Netherlands under false pretences, being transferred every couple of months to other sex clubs, becoming pregnant of one of the gang members, having earned little until then, not having their own passports at their disposal, etc… There were also persons among them who candidly stated that they didn’t feel trafficked at all, were not forced to striptease, drink with clients and to prostitute themselves, but did this of their own free will or due to having a sheer lack of money, were allowed to a large extent to keep their income themselves and had personally never experienced problems with the operators and personnel of the clubs. These stories contrasted with the stories of women from East Asia who, could be qualified as victims of trafficking in women in all respects. They succumbed to the pressure by the gang members (and the pressure of having no money, no food, no passport) to striptease, to work in prostitution, in clubs in Rotterdam, in Belgian and Luxembourg clubs, in German and Finnish clubs, via the networks of known impresarios.

In the book written by Fijnaut you can read (on page 88) that during the period 1987-1989, several women complained to the police about the gang, and 5-10 women were granted a B22-arrangement. On page 86 you can read that during the first half of 1987, 5 complaints of women regarding trafficking in women were registered, 4 of Philippine women and 1 of an Indonesian woman. These complaints were sent to the vice police and were also discussed with the Public Prosecutor. But they weren’t willing to go further with the complaints because they wanted to have a ‘round’ case, and they considered the evidence too thin.

In the book written by Sietske Altink you can read (in the Dutch version on pages 95-96) that during several years 80 women came into contact with the foundation against trafficking in women. But as I have said before, I have little information about prostitutes seeking help in other countries than the Netherlands. Chris de Stoop does describe women who lodge a complaint to the police in Spain and Belgium about the gang (see pages 73 and 77). And some gang members have been convicted in Spain and Belgium. But little information is provided about actual numbers. (Dirk Trioen mentions on page 161 of his book that more than 100 official reports had been drawn up against the gang in Belgium. This was probably around 1993. No information is provided how many prostitutes themselves pressed charges against the gang. Dirk Trioen himself was probably responsible for a lot of complaints against the gang.)

The period Chris de Stoop describes roughly spans six years prior to 1992, and for Sietske Altink this goes on until 1993. The Gang was finally dissolved after 1996 (see pages 218-219 of Chris de Stoop’s book). The gang members have been convicted both in the Netherlands and in Belgium, but there is little I can find about these court cases. So the list of victims continued and perhaps other victims sought help or reported to the police. I however have found an article in the French language Belgian newspaper Le Soir from 1997 which says that the (Dutch) Foundation of trafficking in Women says that 170 women had made a testimony about the gang to them. So this list of 80 women has expanded over the years. But the number of victims of 3000 has probably also increased. See for the Le Soir article over here:

http://archives.lesoir.be/beau-coup-de-filet-aux-pays-bas-cinq-personnes-arretees_t-19970125-Z0D7QA.html

(BEAU COUP DE FILET AUX PAYS-BAS:CINQ PERSONNES ARRETEES TRAFIC DE TRAITE DE FEMMES DEMANTELE, GONCALVES, MURIEL, Page 31, Samedi 25 janvier 1997)

There could be overlap between the women described by Sietske Altink and the women described by Fijnaut, but if this is not true then at most around 140 women have sought help, of a total of 3000 women. That’s less than 5%. But obviously all these reports by women are related to the Netherlands. If we multiply these 140 women by three, then we can assume that no more than 15% of the prostitutes sought help or reported to the police. It is clear to me that the vast majority of the victims don’t seek help. They solve the problems that they have themselves without asking the help of the police or social workers, or they simply accept their fate.

By the way, I could use the 80 victims of the gang who contacted the Foundation Against Trafficking in women as a means of estimating the number of forced prostitutes at that time. According to Sietske Altink (on page 9 of the Dutch version of her book), around 100 victims of forced prostitution reported to the foundation in 1991. Unfortunately no numbers are provided for other years. Simply using extrapolation: in 6 years times that would be 600 women. So roughly 13% (80/600) of the total number of victims were victims of the gang. If the gang imported approximately 3000 women into the Netherlands over 6 years time, and we know that 13% of all the forced prostitutes in the Netherlands belonged to the gang, and we guess that 87% of all the forced prostitutes didn’t belong to the gang, then there were approximately a total of 22500 forced prostitutes in 6 years time in the Netherlands. That’s roughly 3750 victims a year, that’s higher than the estimate that Sietske Altink makes in her (Dutch) book. She reasons that 100 victims report to the foundation each year, and every victim knows a couple of other victims who didn’t report to the foundation, so 1000 victims is a reasonable guess she says in the book. On the other hand, I don’t know how many of the other victims (not belonging to the gang of the Miljardair) also left the Netherlands after three months. Dutch victims for instance obviously stayed in the Netherlands the whole time, so the 3750 victims could be too high. If I assume all victims stayed in the Netherlands no longer than 3 months, than the 3750 victims must be divided by four, and I arrive at around 940 victims, and this is closer to Sietske Altink’s estimate. This is also very similar to other guesses I’ve made. See these posts on my blog:

http://fleshtrade.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-many-prostitutes-are-there-really.html

http://fleshtrade.blogspot.com/2012/09/estimating-number-of-forced-prostitutes.html

Because this post is becoming too long, I want to postpone several other elements to later posts. So, see you later.

Part 2 is here:

http://fleshtrade.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-gang-of-miljardair-part-2.html

Part 2 will be mainly about gang member Dirk Trioen who has written about his criminal life and his involvement with the gang of the miljardair. He says that 90% of the women who worked in their brothels were not victims, knew what kind of job they were supposed to do, and many were already prostitutes before they left their country of origin. This is what I already suspected, but I believe that you must also look at the circumstances and the circumstances were clearly not good.

12 comments:

Cliente X said...

Well, man, u complained bfore that u had too few visits. Look at this HUGE post. I'm really interested in the history but do u think that anyone is going to read till finish a history that is again and again the same?

Let's accept ur point of view. There are too few accusations against pimps bcause girls are too afraid of them. They are forced, beaten and esclavized but we can't see that bcause the mafias tell them to act as if they were working by their own.

Then, which should be the sollution? Here abolitionsts say same as u, so they propose that all prostitutes should be treated as victims no matter what they say. They words must been not heard because obviously they are not really free. But they will be very thankful because police come to rescue them.

One question arises. If prostitutes don`t dare to speak out... how can we know that they are forced and that there are mafias behind them? I know, I know, the books. But how the writers of those books got such information? I accept that ur information comes not from direct sources, but from books written by journalists and that while u accept their information u reject the one provided by the own protitutes (anyway u haven't explained why u accept one and discrad the other). But how those jornalists managed to get such information? For example, u give details that only pimps or prostitutes must know like that they were interrogated by the pimps. If not the pimps nor the girls speak... how they can know?

Want to know sth? Here police and authorities support same vision as u. Take a look of those official videos that are also translated to english so u will understand them. Gimme ur opinion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2C7cNNkIio
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iGFxHXhkuE

Also, how can u explain that all prostitutes worldwide are against those salvation politics? Why they lie as Maggie and Puttana (I went to the link but is in dutch so I didn't understand a single word)?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D7nOh57-I8

Is Pye and other sex worker`s right activists working for the mafias as abolitionists claim?

Donkey said...

My point is, I think you mustn't look at the low number of accusations against pimps, or the fact that after police raids so few prostitutes (if any) say they are forced, or when you interview prostitutes that only 0, 1 or 2% say they are forced. They have their reasons not to say this. I just want to counter Maggie McNeill. She has such a naive idea of forced prostitution.

I also want prostitution decriminalized, but what is the point of a man having sex with an unwilling woman?

If men don't visit prostitutes, the abuses in prostitution will disappear. And we have to solve the problem of poverty.

I have watched the videos. The first Spanish video contains numbers, and numbers in the world of prostitution are very unreliable. The second video, well, this really happens.

I have watched Pye Jacobsson's interview before. I think she has the right to work in prostitution, and of men to visit here. But I also understand the Swedes when they prohibit brothels and criminalize clients. They are way too afraid that pimps like Saban B come to Sweden and terrorize prostitutes with impunity. At this moment there are very few prostitutes in Sweden, and I understand the Swedes that they want to keep it this way.

Donkey said...

I made some amendments in this post here and there. This one is not finished. I will improve it over time.

Cliente X said...


Ok, ok, ok. I've already got ur point. Laura Agustin already wrote about it, if forced prostitutes couldn`t de found was not due they were no existant but bcause u hadn`t looked for them enogh.

I see that there is no way evidences can change our point of view. If prostitutes say they are not forced is bcause they are SO forced that they can`t even say they are. It`s brillant. So if we don`t see faeries is not because they don`t exist but because they hide very good.

As I said u bfore, nothing is wrong if u believe in fantasies. U can believe in orcs, in the hell, in aliens. Nice. But when u begin to confuse reality with fantasy then u have a problem. And if u want to change laws to make other ppl to FORCE to believe same fantasies as u then u are the problem. What's the point of creating criminals, to bring real problems to real people, to forbid thing just due ur ideas not proved at all?

U are very convinced of what u say, all right. But think of the consequences if u were wrong. U are saying that all ur proofs come from ur personal beliefs and some books. It's like a religion. Hey, let's think that I say we should burn WITCHES bcause if we don't they will poison our water, eat our children and kill our cows. Oh I`m defending a really nice prupose, I want to protect society from witches! Of course u can`t see witches openly because they have made a pact with Satan and they look like normal women. But we can discover them and make them burn, hehe. Do u find any problem here? And what if there are no witches? There were many ppl that really tought that witches were real, they had the "feelings" and even some books were published by inquisition. But... what would be the reality if we thrown a "witch" to flames? Maybe we could be not doing a good thing but a bad one? Maybe we could be wrong? Have u ever tough that ur forced prostitues are not more real than witches? Could be u be after faeries, whose presence can`t be proved?

Ur conclussions begin with a mistake. Of course that abuses in prostitution will not happen if men stoo visting them. But... what if those abuses are not real? Could u being saving us from sth no existent? And worst of all, could u being creating a real trouble? Are u burning the witches?

Donkey said...

But in this case the pixie fairies exist. The question however is, how many pixie fairies are there around? Is there one in every room? One in every house? One in every street? One in every neighbourhood. One in every city? One in every country?

Pixie fairies' existence can be made very confident by looking at independent eyewitness reports. But it is difficult to find exact numbers because many prostitutes deny they are pixie fairies, even if they are in fact pixie fairies. You can not directly see if a prostitute is a pixie fairy.

My guess in the Netherlands there are around 1000 or 2000 pixie fairies. As a percentage, I guess around 10% or 20% of the Dutch prostitutes in the Netherlands are pixie fairies. But I can only do this by making some very dangerous extrapolations. I assume for instance that Saban B had 30 women under his spell at each moment. 17 women have pressed charges or made a statement to the police. 120 women have reportedly been exploited by Saban and his gang, so around 15% pressed charges. Saban Baran was active during 1998-2007. And around 100/200 women press charges against their pimp each year. So that means 2000 women in ten years. 30 X 100 X 10 / 17 = etc..... After some calculations I arrive at 1000-2000 forced prostitutes. Very difficult, but possible.

Cliente X said...

So, u can see the fairies. U that have said that u are not going with any pros anymore and that deny their own words. But ppl that has been in continuous contact with them along years and with a very familiar contact haven`t seen the first fairie yet.

Hmmm. All right. Moreover, big trees that we see and that stand up in front of us (like police extortions) are not saw by u. U see ghost but not the house. Fantastic.

U can`t prove ur fantasies but are convinced they are true, even u dare to say that u know better than the own prostitutes their reality.

Ok, I find this really funny. So, how can u say if a girl is a sexual slave? Their words don`t worth anything to u. So, which words we shoudl listen? Yours? The ones from abolitionists? Let`s listen the police? Journalists? Who knows the reality of prostitution, please?

And even more important, if u can`t see directly what is behind those girls, how can u say which girl is forced? Bcause the method I tought was the best, to get confidence with the girls and become a friend of her, it`s invalid for u. U want to know reality of prostitution but avoiding contact with prostitutes. Oh man, that`s weird!

Cliente X said...

What is real is that tales about pixie fairies exist. And my question is not if there are those fantasy creatures, but WHY THE TALES EXIST?

What is their prupose? Why people that see fairies can`t see humans (reality)? Who are those story tellers? Do they get any profit with their tales?

Yeah, I've answer for those questions. And I have seen with my own eyes. It`s not an imagination like ur fairies.

Cliente X said...

Right now I have been checking other blogs and in one they said that Catalonia, which is the region with more corruption in the whole Spain, was the one that also found more "fairies". In fact, I`ve met personally girls that were labeled as "fairies" with our specialists and they told me not just that they were not fairies but the reason the authorities had to prosecute them and say that they were.

Are u aware that If u don't listen prostitutes it's going to be very hard for u to know what is really happening? Why do u believe so much in such fantasu tales and not in the own girls? If someone (a policeman, a jounalist, a social worker) managed to get a "confession" from a girl victim of trafficking, why u couldn`t? I ask u to simply approach to the girls without prejudices, maybe u`ll find stories even better (or more incredible) that the tales of fairies.

Donkey said...

That would be awful if it happened in Spain. But I'm sure police manipulation of prostitutes doesn't happen a lot in the Netherlands.

Do you have any tips how to approach prostitutes? Because the only way I know of is via the internet. You approach street prostitutes. How do you do it? Do you have a modus operandi?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you have re-started your blog - I have missed a lot!!


I’m not sure it is possible to discover how many women who work in prostitution are truly there by choice, how many are compelled by circumstance and how many are forced by someone else, either through fear from a threat of violence or from manipulation.

I am no more convinced by Laura Agustin’s reasoning and attempts to wish away the darker side of the sex industry than I am by the opposing version adopted by some abolitionist activists – that all prostitutes are forced by definition. Both viewpoints seem fanciful and self serving, but that is the nature of extremists.

I agree with Donkey’s long term view on this blog that whilst it is likely most prostitutes chose to enter prostitution and wish to remain in the job, some did not and are forced to do it. These women are probably impossible to spot. How many they number is simply a guess, but even if the number is very small the women affected still matter.


I also fail to see why a woman should give up her right to be treated with decency if she has become a prostitute. This includes the authorities, so I believe it is wrong to criminalise prostitution and that criminalising prostitution does nothing to solve problems with forced prostitution and trafficking anyway.

One thing is certain to me: aggressive, menacing pimping does exist. I have witnessed it in Puerto Banus so it also happens in Spain, not just in Northern Europe.

Donkey said...

Welcome back!!

Yes, Laura Agustín and Maggie McNeill have really given me a purpose.

But I think I won't change their minds. On the other hand, my mind is changing all the time!!!

Anonymous said...

So that guy Ferry only got three years for murder? That is the problem right there; a weak judicial system.