Sunday, August 18, 2013

The boyfriend of a prostitute

I wanted to write something about a Dutch man who started a blog lately. He calls himself Mark van der Beer, but this is not his real name. You can find his blog here, which is written in the Dutch language:

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/

And he also has an English version:

http://freeprostitutes.blogspot.nl/

At first I thought he was the same person as the prostitute Zondares who also has a blog, but I discovered I was probably wrong (, the reason is secret). BTW: read Zondares’ Dutch blog here:

http://zondares.blogspot.nl/

I will tell something about him. Since a year ago, he has a relationship with a Romanian prostitute who works on de Wallen in Amsterdam. His story is special because he actually met her as a client. During the second visit he talked with her in her workroom for several hours, until the closure of the windows. Later he visited her again, and then they went to her place, after which they became romantically involved. After several weeks they started to live together.

She knows many prostitutes on de Wallen, and he also knows dozens of prostitutes in the meantime, of whom many are Romanian and Bulgarian. He can assure that forced prostitution is actually very rare. At first when he visited her, he was really scared that she was forced to work in prostitution. But she reassured him, she works independently. Two years earlier she started for herself, purely for the money. The funny thing is that according a different version of his story (which he told somewhere else on the internet) she told him that she was one of the few girls who wasn’t forced to work in prostitution. This is totally contrary to his other claims. I asked him why she actually said that. He believes she didn’t actually say she was one of the few who were not forced into prostitution, because he then believed that forced prostitution was quite common. He says that he probably interpreted her as saying that.

The next part is mainly derived from these blog posts from his blog:

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/2013/07/mensenhandel.html

http://freeprostitutes.blogspot.nl/2013/08/human-trafficking.html

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/2013/08/getuigenverklaring.html

When his girlfriend decided to come to the Netherlands, this wasn’t exactly an unconsidered decision. His girlfriend had thought about this for years and she hesitated if she should do it. But this option seemed to be a lot more attractive, because in Romania she only earned 150 euro per month, with a well paid job, for which she had to work between 10 and 12 hours per day, under a tyrant of a boss. She knew a boy, whose girlfriend also was a prostitute, and he asked her a couple of times if she also wanted to accompany them (to a country abroad), and she repeatedly refused. But after years of weighing up the pros and cons, she finally decided to do it, and then she accompanied them to the Netherlands.

They brought her to Amsterdam, and they would offer her a place to sleep, and help her with the registration in the Netherlands, so she could start working. Obviously they demanded some financial compensation for this, after all they made expenses for her. She didn’t object, and so it happened.

Approximately half a year ago (prior to July 25, 2013), the police wanted to interrogate his girlfriend. She was lured to the police office under the pretence of asking her something about her slum landlord. But it turned out that the police wanted her to testify in a case against three Bulgarian boys, who were arrested several weeks earlier because they were suspected of human trafficking. After she arrived at the police office, it turned out that these boys were a couple of Bulgarians with whom she was already acquainted. The boys all had a girlfriend who worked as prostitutes, but they really weren’t human traffickers according to his girlfriend (and Mark). His girlfriend honestly answered all questions by the police, after which the police also showed her some files.

One of the files concerned a good female friend of hers, whom Mark was also acquainted with. She was a Bulgarian girl who worked here as a prostitute. But in the meantime she had returned to Bulgaria. She had already worked in prostitution for a couple of years, and her boyfriend who was in the United States of America wanted her to stop working in prostitution. At first she didn’t do it, after which she decided to go back to Bulgaria to make her boyfriend happy. This however was of short duration, because a couple of months later she returned to Amsterdam again, and she started to work in prostitution again, against the wishes of her boyfriend.

Everything went well, until her brother found out what she did here, and as a result she started to have problems with her family. Because of this, she decided to return to Bulgaria again, to give her family an explanation. After she arrived in Bulgaria, she explained to her mother that her boyfriend had coerced her to do this work, and that in reality she didn’t want to do it. Mark says this is obviously pure nonsense, but it was always better than to admit that she wanted to be a prostitute herself. According to Mark, this makes it somewhat understandable why stories go around of women who are supposedly forced into prostitution. It is easier to pretend you are a victim, than to admit you are a prostitute.

One of the girls previously worked for a pimp who brought her to the Netherlands to work in prostitution. The girl didn’t complain about this, but she had to hand over all her money to her pimp. One of the Bulgarian boys offered the pimp money in exchange for the girl. This way he bought the girl free, after which he never interfered with her again. The girl kept on drawing the attention of this boy who had bought her free, and ultimately they entered into a romantic relationship.

For a while the Bulgarian boys were still on remand (in jail), despite the fact that their girlfriends do this work voluntarily. Mark and his girlfriend still saw them sitting at a cafe terrace with the three of them. Not that Mark and his girlfriend want to have a little chat with them, because despite the fact that the boys are not guilty of human trafficking, they also are no darlings, so to speak. One of these boys regularly beat his girlfriend black and blue, and all three boys were involved in other activities like theft, fraud and drug trafficking. Mark says that in a certain way it is good that these boys are jailed, but unfortunately for the wrong reason, which also paints a wrong picture of the reality of prostitution.

Another file was about his girlfriend herself. In this file it was also written that she came here because of human trafficking. The reason according to Mark was that the police hadn’t seen her in all those years without a boyfriend, so she just had to be a victim of human trafficking. Subsequently, his girlfriend became very angry. According to Mark this is understandable, because if this is the way that the police arrives at suspicions of human trafficking, and people are innocently jailed, then this is truly outrageous. Worst of all, her identity as a witness would also be made known in the file. The Bulgarian boys undoubtedly think that she made an incriminating statement against them. She demanded that her named would be removed, but the police pointed out that she had signed the testimony. She was scared for weeks, because she was afraid that some friends of the Bulgarian boys would take revenge.

At one point two of the boys were released, one is still imprisoned, and all the girls still worked on de Wallen. Sometimes Mark and his girlfriend see them walking. The women then look at his girlfriend with an angry expression, because they obviously believe that his girlfriend has testified and lied about their boyfriends.

He doesn’t deny forced prostitution exists, but given the conduct of the police, and the false testimonies which are sometimes made by girls, he believes it happens less often than is generally thought. He says his girlfriend knows about 200 or 300 girls who work on de Wallen, and he himself knows dozens girls with whom he and his girlfriend regularly sit at a cafe terrace. According to him, these are girls with expensive designer clothes, such as Gucci D&G, Armani, Louis Vuitton. He says that Guess is also a big favourite among the ladies.

When he sits at a cafe terrace on the Dam, he sees girls who do this work walk by, one by one. They are easily identifiable by their designer clothes, sunglasses, a thick mop of blonde or black hair in a ponytail, and because they are slender and walk with their chest stuck out forward. They prefer to walk on sneakers, because after all they stand the whole day or evening on high heels. According to Mark, if you know what to look for, you can easily discern them.

Mark asks his readers if all these girls are forced, if all these girls are victims of human trafficking. He asks his readers if people truly believe that these girls with the most expensive designer clothes are forced by a pimp. How does a person explain that? When a pimp buys those clothes for them, then they lose more money on this, compared to what they earn with their lady. Or is it simply true that most of these women chose their profession themselves, which gives them the ability to buy all those expensive stuff? Mark believes that in that case human trafficking and forced prostitution must be easy to detect. When they wear expensive designer clothes they are not forced, the pimps after all are not crazy, en won’t spend thousands of euros on clothes for a girl from whom they want to make money.

When he walks around de Wallen, which is very close to his home, he sees around 19:00 that all girls go to their work. One by one they wear expensive designer clothes. So he surmises that they are probably not forced. He asks the reader where all the girls are who are forced, or are the police and other organizations looking at the prostitutes with a tunnel vision? So focussed on recognizing human trafficking and forced prostitution, that everything could be viewed as a ‘sign of human trafficking’. He says it could explain why his girlfriend is known with the police as a victim of human trafficking, and it could explain the numbers of the police regarding the number of ‘supposed’ victims of human trafficking, and also regarding the numbers that you read in lots of research reports.

The following section is derived from this post:

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/2013/07/hier-geen-hoer.html

Mark believes that there are too many rules which make life difficult for foreign prostitutes. First of all, as a Romanian prostitute, you need a residence permit. A working permit will be only allowed for special professions, for which there is a lot of demand but little supply. Mark believes prostitution belongs to this category, but for some reason it doesn’t. It is also difficult for Romanian prostitutes to acquire a work permit because they only speak Romanian and French. English is highly undervalued in Romanian. A Romanian prostitute also needs to be registered with the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel). According to the law, a prostitute is an independent entrepreneur without personnel, and it is obligatory to be registered with the Chamber of Commerce. But to be registered, you first need to have an address and be registered with one of the Dutch municipalities. So you first need to find a house. That is very difficult in the Netherlands, so foreign prostitutes often end up with slum landlords whom they have to pay lots of money. And you also need a bank account if you want to be registered with the Chamber of Commerce. And once this has been achieved, you have to find a brothel. The brothel owner could be very paranoid, because often brothels are held responsible if something bad happens (like illegal or forced prostitution).

Mark acknowledges that prostitutes could be exploited by slum landlords. His girlfriend at first lived in a very dirty house (or little room) which was badly maintained, with mice and vermin, a dysfunctional washing machine which the landlord didn’t want to replace, a kitchen where the tap didn’t work, a dysfunctional shower, a bedroom which hardly had room for a bed, and… many other things. But they live in a good house now.

The next section is from this blog post:

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/2013/07/middagje-terras-met-wat-hoeren.html

He describes sitting at a cafe terrace with his girlfriend and two of her female friends who also work in prostitution. When he asks the women about human trafficking he gets all kinds of negative reactions. They say: human trafficking, fuck off! They don’t agree with the statement that more than half or even 90% of the prostitutes are victims of human trafficking. Nonsense, the girls shout! They give him arguments and examples why these stories are nonsense. Everybody tells her own story, about how the police thought that each of them were victims of human trafficking. One of the girls shouts loudly: ‘Man, I did this work since I was sixteen years old in Switzerland, then in Italy, and only then in the Netherlands!’ She tells how she had to arrange everything herself, and how it is made hard for them to start working in the Netherlands. The women all agree, human trafficking does practically not occur on de Wallen in Amsterdam. It is the police which sees everything as a ‘sign’ of human trafficking.

He knows exactly what they mean. At first he sometimes brought a can of drink to his girlfriend at her workplace, when she forgot it. But since a Dutch friend of hers, who also had a prostitute as his girlfriend, was arrested when he brought her a sandwich, and because as a result of this he ended up in jail for three months because he allegedly was a human trafficker, Mark’s girlfriend doesn’t want him to drop by anymore.

The next section is derived from this blog post:

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/2013/08/de-exploitant.html

He says that the brothel owners completely squeeze out the women. The women have to pay 150 euro per day (per shift that is), while the prostitutes have to bring their own goods. When a person for whatever reason breaks the window of a room where a woman works, she has to pay for a new window herself, which costs 300 for a small window.

The women are allowed one day off per week. During this one day they don’t have to pay rent. The brothel owners decide which day this is. If a prostitute doesn’t agree, or of it is impossible for her for whatever reason, then she just has bad luck. Obviously they can take a day off during another day, but then they have to pay the rent for that day, despite the fact that they don’t work then. The brothel owner promises to rent their window to somebody else, so that they can get their rent back during another day (they don’t have to pay for one day), but often this coincidentally doesn’t happen. Mark believes this often doesn’t happen because the brothel owner is paid anyway by the prostitute who has a day off.

The next section is based on this blog post:

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/2013/08/een-gemiddelde-werkdag-van-een.html

Mark says that women with a fixed room have more certainty, because they always have a room where they can work, provided that they pay for it. The window rents could vary, but the highest price of a room is around 150 euro per day. (Well, a prostitute told me her room cost 160 euro per day.) When a person wants to go on vacation for two weeks, they have to pay 6X2=12 days in advance. This is a risk for women, and this is the reason why many women keep on working when they are little bit ill.

He says that during their work the women are the target of everything and everybody who walks around de Wallen. People laugh at them, or spit them straight in the face, or they are being shouted at. The work is heavy because of the many remarks the women receive. Mark says that unfortunately the large majority people treat the women like old garbage.

Well, I hope that Mark is right that forced prostitution is rare on de Wallen. I don’t agree with him about everything, certainly. He believes that because women have to go to the brothel owners alone, with their own passports, that this is proof that they work voluntarily, because this way they could easily escape. He says this for instance in the comment section of this post:

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/2013/07/mensenhandel.html

What I understand is that abusive pimps threaten to do all kinds of things to prostitutes, like using violence against them, setting the house of family members on fire, threatening to kill or beat family members, etc... I read verdicts on rechtspraak.nl and then you can read how abusive pimps order the women to go to the brothels operators themselves, without the pimp’s guidance. Why don’t the women escape? Well, because they are threatened? It is a very simple answer.

And I don’t agree with Mark that forced prostitutes don’t walk around in designer clothes, and if they do wear designer clothes then they must be working voluntarily. First of all, there are degrees of coercion. A pimp could demand 50% or 80% of a girl (or whatever), or else he does something badly. If she earns lots of money, she still has enough to buy designer clothes. And some abusive pimps obviously want to keep the women satisfied to a certain degree, so they don’t walk away. The pimps could give the women a little bit of money, or buy designer clothes for them. I don’t see a contradiction. Another possibility is that the women already own designer clothes prior to being forced into prostitution. They wear these clothes during their free time.

After pushing him in the same comment section as I referred to before, he does admit that there are indeed men who take away money for prostitutes, but it goes a little bit different than is reported in the media. He admits that there are men who promise their girlfriend to save the money so they can buy a house together in the future, but in reality they keep it for themselves. Sometimes it happens that the boyfriend runs away with the money, and the girlfriend is left with nothing. But he is of the opinion that these women are not coerced. He says the cases that he and his girlfriend know about, all chose to work in prostitution. And he says that obviously some prostitutes are strongly persuaded by their boyfriend, but this doesn’t mean that the women are coerced with a gun against their head to come to the Netherlands not knowing that they would work in prostitution, or to do something that they don’t want to do at all. But I think, okay, they are not coerced, but they are tricked or conned. That still is a very awful thing that could happen to you!!!!

I also wanted to say something about something peculiar he said to me via email. He says that most prostitutes on de Wallen have an Albanian boyfriend, despite the fact that most prostitutes on de Wallen come from Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. I asked him how that came about. Say, there is a hospital in Germany, and in that hospital work many Dutch women. Wouldn’t it be strange if most of these Dutch women have a Russian boyfriend? I think there must be some kind of weird connection. But Mark says this is not strange at all. He says that in the eyes of the women, Albanians show more respect to them. He asked this question a while ago to a female friend of his girlfriend. Romanian and Bulgarian men often look at the other women on de Wallen, even if they have a girl themselves who works there. This doesn’t show a lot of respect. Albanians on the other hand will never look at another woman, and also his friends won’t look at this girlfriend. It is a sort of code of honour, which the Albanians use to show respect to the other women.

Many Romanian and Bulgarian boys often visit another girl on de Wallen, while they have a girlfriend themselves who work there. The Albanians on the other hand, won’t do that. Also, none of his friends would go to his girlfriend. And even Albanians who don’t know this boyfriend, will walk in a big arc around the girl, out of respect.

I asked him how do these Albanians meet these women? This all looks a little suspicious. He says that these Albanians are often visitors of the prostitutes, but often it goes through networking. The women get to know another woman who already has an Albanian boyfriend, and this way they get into contact with another Albanian. It is the same situation as in the past on school, when you hung around with the same people in a group.

I asked him about the idea that Albanians live in a patriarchal culture and that the men are clearly the boss. In my opinion he describes the Albanian boys as loyal lap dogs. He says these Albanians really aren’t lap dogs, they just have respect for the women, nothing else. He says that most Albanians are involved in drug trafficking or something else that is illegal. Often they reside illegally in the Netherlands. He says from this point of view it is indeed true that the world of prostitution is shrouded by illegal things, but this has nothing to do with human trafficking.

I told another visitor of prostitutes what Mark said to me. He didn’t believe it, and he later asked his favourite (Romanian) prostitute on de Wallen if this is true. She said that indeed most Romanian prostitutes (70% she said) have an Albanian boyfriend, but she didn’t know if these Albanian men were their pimps.

Well, I think that the vacuum that Saban and co left, has been filled by Albanians.

I want to add a philosophical twitch to it. Mark van der Beer denies human trafficking, but must admit that some women are pushed to work in prostitution by their boyfriends, and some women are robbed or conned by their boyfriends or pimps. Frits Rouvoet (whom I wrote about previously on my blog) on the other hand says most prostitutes on de Wallen are forced, but when he actually describes them it seems as if most prostitutes work independently. They have other problems however, like not earning enough money, having emotional difficulties with their work, etc....

I think both Mark and Frits tell the truth. They have some general ideas about prostitution in their heads, but when they give examples of actual prostitutes, it doesn't fit their general image of prostitution. Then the truth is more nuanced.

---END---

UPDATE: I asked Eleni (or Elena) if the story is true that most prostitutes have an Albanian boyfriend. She believes this is not true. According to her, Bulgarian prostitutes often have Bulgarian boyfriends, and Romanian prostitutes often have Romanian boyfriends. But she only knows prostitutes who work in the Goldbergersteeg, the alley where she works herself. She doesn't believe that Mark's girlfriend could know most prostitutes on de Wallen. She says prostitutes often talk bullshit. She asked me if Mark's girlfriend knows her too?

UPDATE 2: Mark van der Beer made a surprising revelation again in a comment on his blog (7 september 2013 12:35). He says that his girlfriend is regularly visited by men who want her to work for them. She refuses them all. He also says that many girls fall for the wrong guy who only want to profit from the women. Often these men are Albanians regarding Romanian women, and Bulgarians regarding Bulgarian women. According to him there is no coercion. The prostitutes are only so naive to let the finances be handled by their boyfriends, who keenly make use of it. He believes it is the fault of the women themselves. In my opinion this is just his point of view, he thinks the women themselves are to blame. But I find it horrible!!!! How awful that these women are so terribly exploited and deceived by these men. This is so evil!!! All the awful stereotypes about prostitutes are again confirmed by Mark van der Beer.

Nothing has changed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A prostitute's boyfriend

There's a new blog out! It's written by a man who is the boyfriend of a Romanian prostitute who works in the largest red light district in Amsterdam: De Wallen.

I thought about writing something about his Dutch blog myself, which you can read here by the way:

http://vrijheidvoorprostitutie.blogspot.nl/

But it turns out that he is busy writing all his Dutch pages completely in English!!!

You can find his English blog here:

http://freeprostitutes.blogspot.nl/

First I thought it was all fake, but I have my own reasons to believe it is genuine.

He and his girlfriend say that forced prostitution is very rare on de Wallen in Amsterdam.

Do I believe him??? Well, I hope he is right, but in the past the situation was truly a lot worse. And some notorious pimps like Saban B really terrorized and extorted the hell out of a lot of prostitutes who worked there. But I know, since 2007 he and many other pimps were arrested, and perhaps the situation has improved a lot. The fact of the matter is, you really don't hear a lot anymore about de Wallen in Amsterdam. So there is a bit of an information vacuum. (The exception is Frits Rouvoet, about whom I wrote a lot lately.) I have asked some questions myself to prostitutes there, but does it make me wiser?

I will still write something about him in the future, but for now, read it and enjoy! Or read it and weep, what you want.

And I wish Cliente X good luck with his new friend. By the way, read Cliente X's (Spanish) blog here:

http://barriorojo-esl.blogspot.nl/

See you all later!!!!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Frits Rouvoet

This post is about Frits Rouvoet. He is the brother of the politician André Rouvoet. I wanted to write something about Frits Rouvoet because he helps prostitutes who work in the Wallen of Amsterdam, but he also helps prostitutes in the red light district of Antwerpen, other red light districts in Amsterdam, and also in some sex clubs. Frits Rouvoet is a Christian. He often prays with the prostitutes.

I lately discovered that Frits Rouvoet has a blog. You can find it here:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/

He also has a twitter account:

https://twitter.com/FritsRouvoet

I also mention him in two other blog posts on my blog:

http://fleshtrade.blogspot.nl/2011/06/struggling.html

http://fleshtrade.blogspot.nl/2011/10/women-for-sale.html

The following information in the next paragraph is mainly from the Dutch magazine Revu (nr. 49, 5 December t/m 11 December 2012), which contains an article named: Met Frits Rouvoet langs de prostituees op de Wallen (written by Marianne Borger).

He is the chief of the organization Blood-n-Fire (the blood of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit), and under the motto ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ he approaches prostitutes together with 30 volunteers. The organization is not subsidized by the government, but primarily operates from gifts. They work without subsidies because they have more freedom this way, and they can immediately help women without the burden of bureaucracy. Frits Rouvoet himself is always accompanied by a woman, because he doesn’t want to make a bad impression on the women. During the last five years the organisation has helped 45 women to leave prostitution. This seems a little, but 41 haven’t returned to prostitution until now. Frits Rouvoet says: “It is a drop on a hot plate, but for each of these women it means a completely different life”.

They help the women to find another job via the organisation Bright Fame, which is a sort of employment agency. They also have some kind of shelter where prostitutes live, which is called Mercy Place.

If you should believe Frits Rouvoet, things are not a-okay on de Wallen. I have wondered if perhaps the situation has drastically improved since a lot of pimps who terrorized this area have been arrested and tried during the last several years. But according to Frits Rouvoet my hope is vain. In an interview in the magazine Volzin (Frits Rouvoet, herder van de Wallen, December 2012, written by Renate van Zee) he says (translated from Dutch):

“I cannot enter everywhere that easily. The women who are forced into prostitution often don’t dare to open the door. I try to make contact anyway, again and again. The pimps are not happy with it, they have threatened me sometimes, but I try to be offended as little as possible, because that we stop by, can mean a lot for these women. A woman who was forced into prostitution, told after her escape that she had persevered because we stopped by. ‘That’s why I knew that there were people who interest themselves in my lot.’ I believe that sixty, seventy percent of the women here are coerced. But I always say: the other women are also coerced – by the circumstances. They come from very poor countries to maintain their families with this work, but they are not allowed to speak about this at home, because that is a disgrace.”

(you can find the article here on Frits Rouvoet’s blog: http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/01/interview-volzin-dec-2012.html)

As I said before, I mentioned Frits Rouvoet also in this post on my blog:

http://fleshtrade.blogspot.nl/2011/10/women-for-sale.html

I will quote from this blog post in which I translated into English a small segment from Maria Genova’s book Vrouwen te koop (2011).

“I dare to say that nearly all women do this work forced. Sometimes they come voluntarily, because golden mountains were promised, but those golden mountains all disappear into the pockets of the pimps. During the last years he saw an awful lot of misery. Robin, a girl aged 21, for whom I was a sort of father figure, hanged herself after her escape. She couldn't cope with the fact that her pimps denied everything. Right before that, she had a talk with a psychologist who could do nothing with her emotions. She had to return to her room to cool down. She became cold for always.”

Frits Rouvoet tells on his blog about some of the women he meets. Although he says that most women are coerced by pimps, the fact of the matter is that most women he describes seem to be independent. But they have other problems, like not making the amount of money they initially hoped for, poverty in their country of origin, a checkered past, having the burden of taken care of complete families in their home country, hating their work, etc…  How does Frits Rouvoet know that most women are coerced? Perhaps because most women don’t open the door for him, and he then concludes they must be coerced. But it could also be that they don’t open the door because they don’t like him, I guess. Perhaps what he believes is just a gut feeling, I don’t know. Perhaps he simply doesn’t mention many of the forced prostitutes he actually met, because he wants to protect their identities for fear of reprisals from pimps. Now that I think about it, he also doesn’t mention the prostitutes in the Singel area in Amsterdam around the Oude Nieuwstraat whom he also visits, and he also doesn’t mention Dutch and Latin American women who also work on de Wallen. He mainly seems to be focusing on Eastern European prostitutes on his blog. But anyway, his words don’t make me hopeful. It seems that even many independent prostitutes live in an awful situation. He even brings around food packages for the prostitutes, because many don’t even earn enough money to eat. Read this post on my blog where I mention Frits Rouvoet talking about this:

http://fleshtrade.blogspot.com/2011/06/struggling.html

(PS: Some time later I actually met Frits Rouvoet. We spoke with each other in a cafe in Amsterdam, and I had some conversations with him on twitter. I asked him how he did know 70% of the prostitutes are coerced. He was a bit vague about that. He says people ask him how many prostitutes are forced, and he says 60 or 70% is what might be realistic. He referred to his blog to find some more information, but as I have said before, I don't see a lot of direct coercion in the women he describes. He did tell me about some forced prostitutes he met, whom he didn't describe on his blog. He tells that pimps of de girls on de Wallen target him on facebook. And he does hear stories about pimps from the girls. He says he also sees pimps.)

I will mention some more awful things that Frits Rouvoet says about prostitutes. In the magazine Visie of the Dutch broadcasting company EO Frits Rouvoet says in the article ‘Ik doe gewoon of ik thuis ben’ (written by Maarten Nota, date unknown, October 2011??) (translated from Dutch):

“My stomach churned when I heard the heart wrenching stories of many of these women. Especially for the Eastern European girls there is almost no help. Above all, many prostitutes live in bitter poverty. I feel concerned about it and that’s why I want to be there for them.”

“If you need to have guts for it? Ah, I don’t experience it this way, but it is obviously something else than [playing] bingo with elderly people. Sometimes I receive threatening sms’s  [mobile phone text messages] from pimps because I have to stay away from their women. You have to be able to cope with that. I’d rather have nothing to do with the mafia, but I simply don’t dwell on it for too long.”

(You can read this article here:  http://www.eo.nl/magazines/visie/artikel-detail/ik-doe-gewoon-of-ik-thuis-ben/)

By the way, Frits Rouvoet is not popular among all prostitutes. I know from some sources (hookers.nl, zondares.blogspot.com) that some prostitutes strongly dislike him or even find him a scary man. And he has a checkered past himself, he was a gambling addict and stole money from his boss. He started helping prostitutes after his wife advised him to accompany a Ukrainian woman who wanted to speak with prostitutes on de Wallen. This was in 2007.

I will name some examples from his blog of the women he meets. I will follow the style of how he writes. Remember, he writes in Dutch, and I will describe it in English.

Take for instance these blog posts of his:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/1-september-2011-een-bijzondere-dag.html

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/4-oktober-2011-geen-titel.html

Via a Hungarian female translator he speaks with two Hungarian prostitutes. One of them, a woman aged 26, has four young children of whom two have severe medical problems since their birth. This costs her a lot of money which caused her debt to rise more and more. Friends lent her money but quickly started to make demands. This made her decide to find more work to pay off her debt. Her husband let her do all the work and her children were alone more and more often. At one point her children were even taken away from her. Perhaps rightly so, but she felt powerless and helpless. At one point her husband sold her so she could work in prostitution in Vienna, and then she didn’t come home at all. She requested a divorce and reported him to the police but this all cost a lot of money and she already had to pay her debt off.  The parenthood of her children was awarded to her husband because she isn’t home anymore, and only when she has a house and a job in Hungary which makes her able to take care of her children, only then she a could become eligible to get her children back. She has wrestled herself  away from her pimp in Vienna and after someone’s advice she went to Amsterdam to earn money independently in prostitution there. Not that she wants to work in prostitution, but what choice does she have? Now she tries to earn money in prostitution to be able to have her own home in Hungary and to pay off her debts completely, then she hopes to find a job again, and then she hopes to get her children back. Here in the Netherlands she also doesn’t earn a lot and the costs of the rent and her room are also high, so the money she can save is so awfully little. Frits Rouvoet said to her that he believed God thinks she is a good mother. She cried endlessly. Together they prayed. Coincidentally her father looked exactly like Frits Rouvoet. She had a good relationship with her father, but unfortunately he died. She asked explicitly to Frits Rouvoet what her father would have done if he would have seen her standing behind the window. She felt so dirty and gross and imagined that he wouldn’t accept her as his daughter anymore.

The next day when she had just started, she received a client who only looked her in the face and only mumbled no, no. Without touching her he put down money and walked away. Shortly after this she was visited by the prostitution team of the municipality of Amsterdam and she turned out not to have her own company (she wasn’t registered with the Chamber of Commerce). The window owner was called in and he was told that she wasn’t allowed to work anymore. She was given a couple of days of reflection so she could think what to do now. They realised that her situation was very difficult. But the window owner immediately threw her out and when she left the building, Frits Rouvoet and his helpers stood opposite the street. Later she said: “When I saw you, I knew ‘I am saved’”. In the office they talked, prayed, cried and laughed for a long while. She was so disgusted about herself that she didn’t dare to look in the mirror (she also said that before she met them she wanted to end her life). With their help she succeeded in looking in the mirror at herself, and she could say to herself that she was a good mother and that she could be proud of herself, and that her father would also be proud of his lovely daughter. Frits believes that she obviously doesn’t belong in prostitution but she ended up in prostitution under coercion and she subsequently didn’t know how to go further, but she did it for her children. She was strong and she didn’t give up under difficult circumstances and she didn’t give up hope. Frits Rouvoet told her that her father together with her would look for a way out of this nightmare and would even be willing to pay for it. They would do it together. A big fit or crying ensued and she asked him if she could call him Apa, which means father in Hungarian. Together they are analyzing her situation and are planning to take some action.

PS: this woman is also described in the following posts:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/2-september-2011-eruit-gegooid.html

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/6-februari-2012-schouder-aan-schouder.html

In the last post he describes that he was with two Hungarian prostitutes in one little unsightly room. One of these women is the same as described above, the woman who called Frits Rouvoet Apa. Frits Rouvoet calls her Cathy in this blog post. At the end, the female friend of Cathy [not the other Hungarian prostitute in the same room I believe] left prostitution but she herself didn’t. This female friend was on the verge of having an abortion for the third time after unsafe sex. She didn't want this, but she saw no other way out. Within six weeks she will give birth to her little son. Straight through all the difficult circumstances they were allowed to stand next to her after she left prostitution, and recently they have baptized her. He saw Cathy last Wednesday behind the window with another woman. While he was talking to Cathy via a translator, he saw that the other woman was listening with lots of interest. She told about herself and gladly wanted to accept help to give her life a different turn. During the prayer she was touched by God in a very special way, she couldn't stand still anymore and while jumping and laughing she told, while her face was sparkling, that she felt so incredibly clean. While they waited outside she immediately put on her clothes and then she accompanied them. In the days after, they had set everything straight for her and they are busy, shoulder to shoulder, to make the first steps to a better future. Each time she thanked God for what He did. With all the joy also a lot of tears came and not only because of the emotions. She had an enormous toothache and obviously she was not insured. This is nearly always the case, the boys for whom they have to work take all their money, or all the money goes to their family or children in the country of origin. She went to the dentist, her back tooth (molar) was pulled, big inflammation and they paid everything. Luckily everything all goes a little better, and she regularly visits and listens to church services in the Hungarian language. For Cathy this is all very difficult, every day she is in tears and she is angry at the office, and she doesn't understand why no contact is possible [Actually I don’t understand the heck what Frits Rouvoet means hear]. They always ask if they want to destroy their SIM card [of their mobile telephone] so they cannot be phoned anymore by loverboys and their old colleagues, in connection with the stress that this gives to somebody who especially wants to find rest.

Another example is from this blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/te-gek-voor-woorden.html

Since a long time he knows a young Romanian prostitute. Via a bad boyfriend she ended up behind the window. She had to work in street prostitution at a notorious place somewhere in Europe. After several months she managed to wrestle herself away from him. Still she kept on working in the red light district there to earn some money for herself at first, but also for her family. This way she bought a house in Romania for her father who now lives there with her brother. She has worked in several European cities already with her twenty years, and she still takes care that her father and brother receive money. But also for her mother, who lives in another European country, she bought an expensive house and lately even an expensive car. Every month she pays off that car. A while ago he had a very confrontational conversation with her in which she herself concluded that her mother is now her pimp. Once, her mother even made the achievement to visit her daughter in her little workroom, she showed no compassion at all with her daughter and the only thing her mother said to her was: I am also in a burdensome situation and in the past I took care of you. Her mother even stayed in her little room while she received a customer. Frits Rouvoet asks the reader to imagine what this does on an emotional level for such a young girl. Work what you don’t want, and that your mother even watches from a distance. Every time that he sees her they get a little closer to her and they hear something more. He hopes they will see her in Mercy Place or one of their other shelters. He says she has a beautiful dream and they hope that within a short while she not only dreams, but that she can live her dream.

Now the following blog post (again):

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/4-oktober-2011-geen-titel.html

He speaks about how he is accompanied by a female Hungarian translator. They meet a woman who is around 30 years old. The tax department had paid her a visit and with the money that she had painstakingly earned she had to pay off tax assessments. Nobody had  alerted her that she had to go to the Chamber of Commerce to start her own little business and to be reported to the tax department this way. Frits Rouvoet believes that the window brothel owner should have checked this. She was very open to the tax department, but she was very disappointed that her money disappears again. She believed that after two or three months she had enough money to take care of her daughter and to be together with her again, and then you have to work to pay taxes, and then you hope that a little is left to start saving once again. Frits Rouvoet thinks it’s sad, everybody receives money and earns from these women but the women themselves receive very little of it. An accountant had been recommended to her who will work on it for a couple of hours, but he has to be paid too. This woman has visited the office of blood-n-fire a couple of times and they are helping her to set things straight, and also to look for a good solution so she can leave prostitution.

In the same blog post he tells about a Hungarian woman in her early thirties who had an appointment with an abortion clinic. She didn’t want to do it but if she wouldn’t  let her child be taken away she also wouldn’t know how to move on. Standing with a thick belly behind the window obviously didn’t work and when the child would be born she also didn’t know how or what. She was left with hardly any money and her pimp would certainly not be satisfied with less money. When she would leave him, where would she go? When you are roofless, your child will be taken away. All very difficult, you have to work and you cannot set everything straight for a while, you don’t speak the local language and you don’t know the routes. After a conversation with Frits Rouvoet and his organization it was decided to phone the abortion clinic to cancel the appointment. This means that an abortion is no longer possible because the time frame in which abortion is possible will expire. They will shelter her in a cozy family situation. When he saw her again she was very happy.

Now the next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/24-augustus-negentien-jaar-oud.html

Frits Rouvoet meets a prostitute. When she was eighteen years old she was told that she had to leave the house [where she lived] and she came to the Netherlands with her boyfriend. He obviously didn’t have work immediately, so she would just work for a little while in the red light district until he had work. This didn’t work, but a car was needed and a nice apartment of just over 2000 Euros per month. Every evening they would go out and do nice things and she paid everything. Now he is back again [in his home country????] and she is alone now. Yesterday she became nineteen years old and everything she had in her pocket was 40 Euros. Each day she tries to have money for a hotel room. She just doesn’t think about a different future. Other work without having an education and without speaking the Dutch language is not in sight. He hopes she will go to the appointment they had made. They want to elucidate her situation and to set things straight. He believes the impossible is possible. They had recently helped another woman who had no education, who spoke no Dutch and hardly any English, to get a job. When they told her about this, hope appeared in her childish little head (in the words of Frits Rouvoet). He hopes they can build a future for her, shoulder to shoulder.

He probably also describes the same girl in this post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/june-25-afronden.html

She is still eighteen years old then. Frits Rouvoet suspects she is under the influence of somebody. She constantly calls Frits Rouvoet daddy. Her boyfriend takes good care of her and he loves her, she says. He even seems to work but she pays everything. Apartment, car and much more. She finds it terrible having to work in prostitution but she just continues. They try already for a long while to make an appointment with her but she again and again doesn’t show up. The last time because she went with a guy the whole night after work.

The next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/8-januari-2012-weer-een-vriend.html

Frits Rouvoet  tells that during the last couple of weeks or months (prior to 8 January 2012 when he wrote this), he is regularly confronted with prostitutes who are pregnant. In October they helped a Hungarian woman who had to undergo an abortion for the third time after forced unsafe sex. She absolutely didn’t want this, but she didn’t know how she had to go further so an appointment with the abortion clinic was fixed for more than a week later. In consultation with Frits Rouvoet and his team they cancelled the appointment and around that time there was a midwife who unselfishly wanted to help her. In Antwerpen they meet a Romanian woman of whom they thought she was seven months pregnant, it turned out to be nine months, and she was still working as a prostitute. Frits Rouvoet found it a strange thing to see, such a young girl with a thick belly. He finds it incomprehensible that men get excited of it. He believes they must know she isn’t there voluntarily. He also finds it incomprehensible that the police and judiciary, who also must see her, allow this to happen. She was constantly being watched by her so-called boyfriend, who stood in front of her window nearly all the time. Sometimes they could visit her for a short while and talk with her. On the one hand very positive, but she underwent it all with some resignation as well. They could help her just in time to travel to Romania, and there she gave birth to her son. How it will go further they still have to wait, because her boyfriend doesn’t leave her alone yet. The boyfriend knows she is with her parents and he knows where they live. Frits Rouvoet believes the boyfriend could use the baby as a means of coercion so she keeps working for him. Last week (before he wrote it) a young girl told that she was determined to have an abortion during the coming week. Regularly they have to hear that it has just happened or that it is about to happen. When it doesn’t happen within the allowed period, then it will happen in some illegal clinic or they just travel back and forth between here and their country of origin. These are difficult conversations for Frits Rouvoet and his team because what do they have to offer when they decide to let their child be born? The distress among Eastern European women is big, going back is often no option, staying here is almost impossible. Real help is hardly there.

Next post!:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/06/ik-weet-hoe-het-is-vernederd-en.html

They meet a young Romanian woman, for the first time in April. She had to return to Romania because of her baby. She didn’t have enough money for the airplane ticket so they gave her some extra money. The evening she came back she was kicked into the hospital by her ex-husband. Later she told them how her life went. She was able to follow a good education and she married a husband with a reasonable amount of money. They had two children of whom the youngest is still a baby. Her husband maltreated her more and more and he even put her on the street. And there you stand, no shelter, no work and no money for your children. In Eastern European countries it is the case that when you have no money and no shelter, you will only get your children back when you have a job or an apartment. The custody of her children was handed to her husband. She didn’t have any money to start a lawsuit, so she responded to an invitation from a female friend who knew a job for her in the Netherlands. The female friend would take care of the necessary documents. She accepted the offer and after a while this female friend told her that unfortunately this job didn’t exist anymore and that she had spent 2000 Euros on her documents and that she really needed this money now. The female friend knew about a job in which a lot of money could be earned; prostitution. After thinking for a long while, she decided to do it [not the female friend]. Her problem was already 2000 Euros bigger than when she left Romania. And she wanted to have money as quickly as possible to be able to return to Romania to see her children back and have them with her forever. She found it very difficult as a Christian, but she saw no other way out. They helped her to acquire a document from the hospital in which it is stated where she has lied and what her injuries were. You have to pay for everything in Romania. Now she can press charges. She experiences it as a miracle that she has found a job as a cleaner, she works during the nights and this earns better than during the day. But with 95 Euros per month you can’t rent an apartment, support oneself and let alone have your children with you. They admire her positive view. She wants to help other women. Frits Rouvoet says that like she has said herself, it took only three weeks [that she worked in prostitution?], he knows how it feels to be humiliated, all these shameless glances on you the whole day, and to be abused. He believes Romania needs women like her, people who don’t bear the situation, but who rise above it, and who want to look at the future. He is so happy that he may give input to a group of young people who want to do their best for a new revolution.

Next blog post!:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/05/cultuurshock.html

Frits Rouvoet cites two of his female trainees who were on a trip to Hungary. They told people there about: “the Hungarian Roma women we meet in Amsterdam, and how their situation is. That they are left with hardly anything of the money they earn because their pimp demands everything. We tell about how most women are totally broken and exhausted. How they don’t dare to sleep at night because they, when they close their eyes, see all the faces of the clients come by. We tell about the women who developed cervical cancer because of this work. About pregnancies which are the result being forced to have unsafe sex, and which they also have to terminate under coercion.”

Next blog post!:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/06/maatschappelijk-werk.html

Frits Rouvoet cites two other female trainees who have worked for him on de Wallen (translated into English by me):

“Working with prostitutes changes your world view, at least, that’s what it did to us. It is terrifying how many girls and women work under coercion. Let’s also not forget the group of women who are apparently voluntarily there, but who struggle with heavy traumas as a result of rejection, abuse in childhood or mountainous debts as a result of a bad relationship and on and on and on. It is terrible and immensely sad to hear from a prostitute that she finds the work rather okay, because she believes that she is made to be abused: “This way I at least earn something from it, that men use my body and I’m not used to anything else.”

Next blog post!:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/04/helaas-en-frustrerend.html

He tells that a couple of weeks ago before writing this post (before 18 April 2012) that they had contact with a 21-years-old Romanian prostitute. He describes her as being rather more like a big child than a grownup. She told how her parents left her when she had just become half a year old, she grew up in orphanages and institutions with only a grandmother who looked after her every now and then. When she became 18 years old she was allowed to stand on her own legs, but what can you do when you couldn’t follow an education, never learned to be independent and not knowing what it is to have family and friends. Within a short period she ended up in prostitution, first in her own country, then in Italy and finally in the Netherlands. Frits Rouvoet first met her when she was standing there during the day for the first time, and the look on her face moved him enormously. They started a conversation and they were allowed in her little room for a short while to keep on talking without all the curious men. With tears in her eyes she told about how she grew up and that she was extremely keen on becoming an actress but this would never materialize. She also told that she prayed to God everyday and that’s why she received the power to keep on going and not to give up. They invited her to accompany her that evening to a dinner that was offered by Dolce Vita in Veenendaal in honor of national women’s day. She wanted to think about it but she did want them to pray for her. Afterwards they visited her again to give her a little present but her curtain turned out to be closed. Because they had lack of time he phoned her, she immediately answered the phone and it turned out that she was praying in her little room about the conversation they had had. Frits Rouvoet found it really special. She also decided to accompany them to the dinner and she really had the evening of her life. She absolutely enjoyed it but there also were many tears when she told her complete story to the Romanian women who lived in Mercy Place. It turns out that she lived in a house in a normal residential area with a number of other girls and that she was coerced to work. She happily told him that she wanted to stop and that she would like to have a place in Mercy Place where she could really start her life. On the way home they offered her to stay the night with them at their home and to collect her belongings the next day. She pertinently refused this and they agreed that they would pick her up the next day. The next morning he quickly received an SMS with the question if they could pick her up a couple of hours later. He obviously didn’t trust this and together with his daughter Petra he was busy for three quarters of the Saturday to find her anyway. He spoke with people of the house, waited a couple of hours in front of the door and finally at the end of the afternoon and in the evening they walked in the rain across de Wallen in the hope to find her behind the window again. But unfortunately they didn’t find her. They again received an SMS in which she stated that she chose to keep on working. Frits Rouvoet tells about how frustrating this is, she was so sincere, so pure and she wanted it so much. When they drove back from Veenendaal they repeatedly told how happy she was. He says that he wants to coerce somebody sometimes, but obviously this is not possible. The following week they again encountered her when they walked in the street during the evening. She saw him just a little earlier than he saw her, and she quickly closed the curtain, but they waited a long time (again in the rain). Finally they received an SMS with the question if he wanted to leave her alone. He says that how difficult it is for them, they have to respect this. He says that there are many women like these, and they regularly encounter them. They are really struck by the enormous inflow of young Romanian girls at this moment. Not only in Amsterdam but also in Antwerpen.

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/12/oproep-tot-gebed-voor-jonge-roemeense.html

Frits Rouvoet tells about a young Romanian woman. Step by step she started to trust them. After first telling them that she stood there for herself she confided to one of the team members that she had multiple pimps and that even the initials of their names were tattooed on her body. More than two weeks ago (before Frits Rouvoet writes this) she had an appointment early in the morning with their team member[s?] but unfortunately they were both ill. She wanted to share something important. The day after this, she had attended their Sinterklaas evening and this also was the last time they had seen her. In this period it turned out that the same two boys were regularly in her little room [window brothel?]. So also this Friday morning when she was picked up by these two boys. To her colleague she said that she wouldn’t come back. After some detective work and a short conversation with her via an unknown telephone number it turns out that she is abroad. There are some voices which can be heard in the background and she also expressed that she was afraid. During a conversation with her colleague she even cried. It also turned out that in the unsightly little apartment where she lived, one of the boys always had to guard her. Frits Rouvoet tells that this 24-years-old Romanian lady is out of their reach for now. They have to be careful with phoning her because the boys can listen in. The police can do little or nothing when she doesn’t indicate herself that everything happens beyond her will. They also know in which country she is, but not which place. He asks the question what they can do for her. They carefully try to stay in touch with her, and help her to become free (and obviously they pray a lot for her). And perhaps she can be reunited with her daughter.

He mentions the girl again in the following post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/12/ik-ben-er-dagelijks-maar-jullie-ook.html

He wonders what her Christmas would look like, far away from her family and little son, in again a different environment where you know nobody, on a mattress in a bare room with one or several guys who must keep an eye on you. Not be able to go outside to get fresh air. He says that they regularly encounter these young girls who could suddenly be gone. Weeks or months they stand there and then suddenly other women stand in such a window again.

He mentions the girl in the following blog post again:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/06/voorlichting-daar-waar-de-maffia-ronselt.html

During a trip to Romania they drive to the girl. She has reunited with her little daughter and they want to see with their own eyes how she’s doing and to hear what has happened.

In the next post he describes her again:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/06/zonder-opleiding-is-hij-een-goede.html

They finally meet her. They have driven 500 km for it, and it took them six hours. She was really overwhelmed that they were willing to do this for her. They wanted to see her in her own situation. They also wanted to meet her parents to assess how they could help her further. She lives in a small village in which there is nothing to experience. Only misery and hopelessness and that’s where you live in. In the past she was already abandoned by her natural parents, although she grew up in a situation in which she was really loved, but still. In a relationship she had, she had a baby but her boyfriend didn’t really care for her. Then what do you do when a nice guy approaches you and finds you special? After a while he could live together with her in the apartment of a nephew in a large city in Romania. But then the nephew comes back and he wants to continue with her anyway [???? I don’t understand this sentence]. So an apartment is rented for them together, but he has no money and no job. He proposes that she receives a client in the apartment for sex every now and then, so that the rent can be paid and there is money for food. Then suddenly the amazing possibility to earn a lot of money within a short time in Amsterdam. This young man has really taken the time to get her this far. Frits Rouvoet believes that without education he is a good psychologist! The boy is imprisoned somewhere in Europe for something completely different but the network took her away and she is only allowed to wait (without her realizing) until he is released again. That day things became more clear for her and for them. She really has to think well and make decisions (in Frits Rouvoet’s opinion). They are figuring out multiple possibilities for her. In the meantime she is home again in this incredibly little house with two rooms where grandmother, the parents, two younger brothers and she live together. The toilet in the room, some planks and a little canvas but without a door, is a sign of the enormous sadness of everything in the surroundings together. It seems like such a stupid decision to start working in prostitution for yourself, but somewhere Frits Rouvoet does understand it. As the only person she can do something for this family who has allowed her into their family with some much love, while they have nothing themselves. Also the younger brother has been abandoned by his mother and allowed into the family. They don’t receive any money for it, and she can bring in some money.

He describes her again in the next post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/06/beetje-bizar.html

He tells something about being in a restaurant in Romania after a trip to Galati, and that he the tables around him were occupied by pimps and several women. He recognizes one of these pimps from Amsterdam. He finds it a little bizarre. The girl that they met the previous day told him via the telephone that since a long time she has slept well. Just the knowledge that she doesn’t stand alone anymore. They had given her a Romanian version of the book “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers.

He describes her again in the next post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/06/discussie-in-de-regio.html

He says he is phoned by the pimp of the girl whom they had visited at her home last Wednesday. He believes that the pimp was probably informed by somebody from her village.

By the way, he also mentions her here:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/12/nergens-staat-dat-hij-hielp-en-dan.html

He tells that he feels that they are getting closer to the little world around many of these girls. He believes that the impact of loverboys and the mafia is much bigger than we (people in general)  suspect. He believes that many also in politics want to make us believe that everything is not so bad at all and that it is reasonably under control. But yet they see that many of the women are not free to chose themselves. Then he names the example of the girl above.

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/05/een-normaal-leven.html

They visit the red light district in Antwerpen. They meet a window prostitute. She beckoned him, but when he approached her she noticed he was accompanied by a female team member. The prostitute thought they wanted to go together. He made her clear that they weren’t there for her body but for her. They asked her how she was doing, and they explained who they were and why they were here. She smiled and they started a conversation about her little son who was 5 months old. She showed them photos of the baby on her telephone. She confided to them that she was standing there since a couple of weeks ago, to earn some money because she couldn’t make ends meet anymore in Spain. She hasn’t worked [in prostitution?] for  a couple of years, but in the past she has worked [in prostitution?] for three years already. It was financial necessity that brought her to Antwerpen. He told her she was a good mother and that she didn’t have to look down on herself. She started to cry. They talked further in her room, and he told her she wasn’t the prostitute that they had met behind the window, but that this was just her situation, that deep inside she was the woman who wanted to be a good mother who wanted to be good for her baby. She gladly wanted that they prayed for her and she told that she prayed daily if God wanted to help her. Her dream is a sweet man, children and a house to live in. She summarized it herself as “a normal life”. That day she would go back to her son again, she hopes that she doesn’t need to go back again, and Frits Rouvoet doesn’t know if they will ever see her again. He hopes so for her. He says that this woman is supposed to belong to the category of women who consciously and voluntarily choose to do this. He doesn’t believe that one woman chooses this voluntarily. There is always a reason that forces her.

The next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/02/klant-vertelde-haar-dat-hij-ook-een.html

Frits Rouvoet tells how he meets a 19-years-old girl in his office. She was so very tired. She was very upset about how she had had a 42-years-old man as a client last week, who had the same age as her father. The man also told her he had a daughter aged 19. She asked Frits Rouvoet how it was possible that the client does it with her here and later he sits at the table with his own daughter. She just let it all happen with her eyes closed as much as possible. More than 4 months ago she visited a female friend who persuaded her to try it out as a prostitute. She couldn’t understand how she could have been so stupid. Three weeks ago (before he writes it) he met her for the first time and then she already told him that she found it difficult to talk about it with her parents. Because there was a big secret in between them. She told a lot, she just kept on talking. Regularly the tears, mixed with her makeup, flowed across her cheeks. They met her later when she left her window. The conversations she had with them made her decide to take the airplane home. She hoped to stop working in prostitution and to take up the thread again. But there was a lot of fear in her. She regularly dreamed about her clients, and when she dreamed they also talked. She was so afraid her mother would hear about this. She also stood under the shower for long periods of time and she tried to wash off that dirty feeling from her, but this never worked. Sometimes when somebody passes by with a particular smell she was reminded of the particular client. Frits Rouvoet and company and the girl prayed together. She laid her head on his shoulder.

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/11/daar-sta-je-dan-met-je-goeie-gedrag.html

Frits Rouvoet meets an Eastern-European prostitute aged 22. She embraced him while crying. It was the second day already that she didn’t have a client. And at the end of the day she had to pay 190 euro for her [window brothel] room. She was so tired and so incredibly fed up. They made an agreement that she would talk together with their social worker and to set everything straight. Unfortunately she didn’t show up the next day, and they shifted the appointment to the end of the day. Also this day no clients for her. They agreed the appointment would happen at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, but a man came at that time and she asked if they could shift the appointment to 19:30. Hannie the social worker and Frits Rouvoet waited in the rain outside in front of her room. She walked out with the same man while she was smiling. She wanted to walk straight passed them, but when they spoke to her she said they should wait 10 more minutes. The girl and the man entered a snack bar to eat something, and Frits Rouvoet and Hannie decided to follow them and also to eat something (French/Flemish fries) because they too were hungry. When they reminded her of their appointment she told them drily that she had promised this man to accompany him. Frits Rouvoet wrote that their good behaviour was for nothing. Afterwards it turned out that this man paid rent arrears for many young Eastern European women which they have to pay back to this man in segments. Frits Rouvoet calls it a strange state of affairs, he believes such a man can exert power over these women. It turns out that this man walks across de Wallen daily. When they stand in the rain waiting like this and everything happens differently then he sometimes thinks: “Am I crazy or not?”. Frits Rouvoet thinks: who does this actually? But at the same time he knows that few would do this, so they do it.

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/05/no-money-for-my-children.html

They meet a Hungarian prostitute. They ask her why she has returned. She said in English “no money for my children.” The next morning at 10:00 she was in their office and they learned of the news she had received last evening from Hungary. She had cervical cancer and she had to be helped immediately. After working behind the window for a couple of days she could hardly pay for [the rent of her window prostitution] room. So she didn’t have money for her children yet and now she also had to go back to her country to be treated. She hated the little word of prostitution but she also didn’t know how she had to do it all. After a good conversation they offered her to pay for her airplane ticket so she could at least undergo the treatment. For the rest of the day she was a guest at one of their co-workers’ place who is Hungarian. Around 18:00 she was back again at the office with a somewhat younger woman who also gladly wanted to stop. She had money with her for an airplane ticket and they booked it for her online. She ate with them and in the meantime they had good conversations. She told that when another prostitute [Frits Rouvoet adds the word ‘pimp’ behind ‘prostitute’ enclosed by brackets] heard that she was going to stop they immediately had to leave her apartment where she lodged for the time being. That meant no shelter for two nights but also no money for a hotel room. A female co-worker who had lived in Hungary for a while, offered them to sleep at her place. The women were very happy. They lodged happily in her house, listening to music and drinking coffee etc…. And obviously Frits Rouvoet and the others prayed for them (not meant cynically by the way).

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/07/ik-begrijp-die-mannen-niet.html

They meet an Eastern European woman aged 20. She says: yes, I work for my mother, little brothers and sisters. She says that her father passed away three years ago and now her mother can’t make ends meet and take care of the family. So now she does it. Several months ago she came from Eastern Europe to take up the care of her family. Very quickly already she had a boyfriend and they started to live together. Of his income, 1600 euro [per months?], she could really not live and he helped her find work, prostitution obviously. It was so kind of him that he had helped her and that she could send money  home and that they both had more to spend. Frits Rouvoet writes: Like she stood there, so naïve, just a child. She misses her father terribly and she has a heavy responsibility on her shoulder. Frits Rouvoet doesn’t know to what extent her mother has done this but he believes that in any way her mother doesn’t know how her daughter earns her money [I don’t know what he means]. And perhaps she doesn’t want to know. He notices how during the last months (prior to writing this, which is 2 July 2012), it looks as if the girls in the red light district are becoming younger. Lots of new girls, 18, 19, 20 years old, one after the other. Contrary to a year ago, many of them speak English reasonably well. A co-worker of an organization told him in Bulgaria that criminal organizations offer the girls free lessons to learn English. They find it obviously very interesting and they believe they have a bigger probability of finding nice work. But it is a part of the first preparations to start working in prostitution [okay, come-on Frits Rouvoet!! You know that all these girls know beforehand that they will work in prostitution!] . A girl of just 18 years old who doesn’t speak the Dutch and English lessons but who does have an apartment of 1300 euro, who has her own company, will be more conspicuous than a girl who does speak English. Of another girl the mother is terribly ill and there is no money to pay the hospital and the bills, so she stands behind the window with her 19 years. She finds it terrible but sees it as the only way to help her mother. Her parents know nothing about it and would take her back immediately. But she phones them every day to tell them what incredibly nice work she has in a restaurant. The parents are proud of their daughter, and Frits Rouvoet believes this is justified because he also has respect for these young girls. If their stories are correct or not, or perhaps partly, they very often take up an enormous responsibility which they shouldn’t be carrying. For none of them this was the dream, but it has become their situation. All of them want to flee from the miserable circumstances and want a better life for their family, children and themselves. Frits Rouvoet says he doesn’t have respect for these guys who use these young girls. Often they could be her father or grandpa. He can’t comprehend it when they see that at the end of the afternoon the little men leave such a little prostitution room after their work. He imagines how they go home, kissing their own children and to cosily sit behind the dinner table for the evening dinner. He says he is not to judge, but he also doesn’t understand it. That afternoon a girl who worked under coercion told how she wasn’t allowed to have contact with her younger nephews and nieces because she was so bad. This really does hurt. Another lady told how she actually was two persons. Here behind the window with a smile and cheerful, but at home she couldn’t even laugh just a bit and she was very lonely. So much pain, sadness, disappointments and frustrations and others who visit you for their little pleasure. Frits Rouvoet finds it a privilege to meet these women and to stand next to them to enter another road in their life. He believes they are more than worth it.

The next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/22-januari-2012-geen-titel.html

He tells they were allowed in Antwerpen to remove a Romanian girl from a criminal organisation. She was brought to them and she first told them that the work wasn't good for her but that she gladly did it for her boyfriend and herself together to later live a happy life with him. After listening to her for half an hour he really did lovingly confront her that they know this story by now and that they don't believe her. She completely broke and she cried terribly. Also she is now in a beautiful safe place. During the last week (before writing this 22 January 2012) he walked the streets four times in Amsterdam, in his opinion it seems as if there is a breakthrough in the team and the conversations that they are allowed to have. Wednesday they met a young Romanian woman for the first time, she proudly showed them some video images of her one and a half year old young son. While watching the tears started to come. Also she finds it terrible to stand behind the window. After learning more from her about her circumstances, a young girl was just crying their because she doesn't know it anymore. When he said to her, let's just do as if he is her father, she immediately was sobbing on his shoulder. He hopes that she will come to the office tomorrow to set everything straight. Another young skinny Eastern European girl told that she worked to be able to feed her child, she also worries about her terribly bad set of teeth and she knows that with the money that she earns as a prostitute she will not be able to make ends meet. A simple little calculation from his side quickly showed a hole of around a 1000 Euro per month. This week he hopes that they know what the situation is for her teeth and probably she will stop with it. A Hungarian girl has had an abortion at the beginning of this week, and she is in a depressed mood. They know her for two years already but since a short while ago there is finally some rapprochement. Last Friday she phoned him with the question if they could help her and luckily they could. She accompanied him while talking cheerfully and they heard her sad life story in their office. She also cried on his shoulder. He finds it  very special that over time she started to trust them/him without them noticing it. He finds it very special to see that he especially as a man could mean so much for these wounded women.

He probably also talks about her in the next post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/06/verder-met-je-leven.html

They have had a conversation with a young Romanian girl. Several months ago she stepped out of prostitution after she was brought into prostitution by a boyfriend. Luckily they quickly got in contact with her when she had just worked for almost a month. At first she told that it all was fun and that her boyfriend loved her so very much. But after half an hour they confronted her with the facts and then she broke. She immediately decided to stop and the next day they picked her up and brought her to a safe address. In the beginning she was very motivated, but after a little while when all the documents weren't that quickly in order, she became impatient because she wanted to earn money for her three-year-old son who was with her parents in Romania. After several weeks in which she really encountered herself, finally some work came to her from several directions. During the last months they saw her change time and time again and becoming herself. She regularly accompanied one of them on the street to meet prostitutes. Frits Rouvoet says it was special to see how she had contact with these ladies and how she made them think. Four weeks ago her grandmother died, and she was in Romania for two weeks and despite the sadness about her grandmother, she had a wonderful time with her little son. During that time she has also decided to go back to her country of birth, to be with her son again. Her brother has work for her and she also wants to finish her study. And yet she has come back to settle some matters here. Work wasn't there for her for the time being and she still has to pay €500 here and there. She responds to every little cleaning job and it frustrates her that she doesn't succeed just like that. Frits Rouvoet offered her to do some street work again with prostitutes, and he asks people to sponsor her.

The next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/het-leven-is-shit.html

They meet a young woman aged 22. She quickly opens her door and tells that her boyfriend had left her. She was very sad and it hurt her a lot. Due to his appointment he had to keep on walking and he promised her to come back the next day. And so he did, and with very loud music next to them she started talking. In the meantime the men kept on walking by and she didn't feel free at all. He proposed to go to her room to continue talking there. After arriving there, she sat down on her bed cross-legged with a stuffed toy in front of her. The tears came immediately and she said: life is shit and it is only pain. She didn't want to live anymore. When he sat down next to her and put his arm around her, she laid down her head on his shoulder and she kept crying. She grew up in Eastern Europe, without parents, a long time in a foster family where she wasn't accepted by the other children, and furthermore she lived in institutions. Before she came to the Netherlands she first worked in Germany. Here she lived with her boyfriend for a while or lodged in a cheap hotel. She absolutely didn't know who she was, had nobody in her life anymore and above all she did have no idea about her future. In a strange country without the right documents and also in her country of birth she has nothing. She later found shelter in Mercy Place.

The next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/05/waarheid-maakt-vrij.html

A woman wants help with finding another job, but she is first putting on makeup. After this, she had to earn money. So this morning there wasn't any time. Then they meet a very young Eastern European girl, she is 20 years old and she works as a prostitute since just a week ago. She especially tries to make money for her mother who was abandoned by her father and who stands alone since then. Financially her mother didn't make it, so her daughter then just made up the story that she could work in a restaurant. With her enormous sense of responsibility she couldn't resist to do something. When they met her she was cozily phoning with her mother in her window. After he asked her what her mother would do when she knew what kind of work she really had, her face saddened. She seriously wanted to think about looking together at her situation and to change something for her so she could leave the red light district. Frits Rouvoet tells that many of these young girls tell at home in Eastern Europe that they work in a restaurant, sometimes for their boyfriend. They even send photos of themselves in a restaurant. When they go out with Frits Rouvoet and his co-workers, and they can't send money to their family for a while, the family starts asking for money and this puts an enormous pressure on such a girl. She has to keep lying and not only towards the family but also towards Frits Rouvoet and his co-workers, and they twist themselves further and further into an especially difficult situation. The result is an awful lot of stress in these young little heads and an incredible knot in their stomach which becomes heavier and heavier. The day before, they talked about this together with a girl who was with them, and yet they strongly advised her to be honest about her past towards her mother. She found it very difficult, but she did it anyway. Afterwards she cried for more than 10 minutes on his shoulder. Frits Rouvoet said it was actually very difficult to see how she felt shy of it, but it was also very beautiful to see that the mother found it very difficult but that she didn't reject her daughter. All that time she actually was afraid of it already. After half an hour the young woman came to him and said that she felt so light and relieved.

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/06/uitzichtloos.html

A 22-year-old prostitute showed the spots on her body where she was beaten by her ex-husband. In a mix of some English and Dutch words she told how after the divorce with her husband, she tried to keep her head above the water and to take care of her three children. In her country of birth this didn't work out and she then just tried it in Amsterdam behind the window on de Wallen. A female friend from the same village drew her attention to it, and she showed her the way to the red light district. With anguished eyes she had to see how her colleagues had several clients, and she almost not. This obviously does a lot to her self esteem. She hardly makes money for the rent of her little [window prostitution] room, and sending money to her children just doesn't work out. Last week she thought to have a little extra money by being together with a client in a hotel together with a colleague. Frits Rouvoet and co warned her about the risks. After waiting for a while, they went home when the client didn't show up. Now it turns out that she is also pregnant so she wants an abortion. This is not the first time, because after a life full of abuse she had to undergo this several times. Frits Rouvoet hopes that she will soon accompany them to Mercy Place. She comes more and more to the realization that she won’t come much further and the financial problems will only become bigger. She misses her children a lot, and they hope that they can find a way out together and that this woman can also build up her life.

The next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2013/02/vanmiddag-ben-ik-samen-met-een-paar.html

Frits Rouvoet tells that for many women it is difficult to make ends meet at this moment. He spoke with a young girl who was back behind the window again after around three years. She told that after paying the rent of her little [window prostitution] room, hardly enough money was left for her hotel room. The fact is, she wasn't able to find an apartment yet. It is very difficult for her to be back behind the window again. Recently in her home country, her father died and she misses him terribly. Here in Amsterdam she actually also doesn’t know how she has to go further. The first time that he met her she had to cry terribly, the second time she didn't want this and she stayed brave. They noticed during the last months that they become more and more involved in the problems around the women and that they are confronted by a lot of misery. It happens more and more often that they have to deal with the parents or family of the girls. Together they can be a network around these girls. Often there is so much recovery and healing necessary within the family.

The next post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/11/ze-vocht-tegen-haar-tranen.html

They meet a prostitute who asked why she has such a low number of clients. She says she doesn't want it, she abhors it but she doesn't know how she must do it otherwise. She says that everything fails in her life. She says that in Romania there is no work, she is still busy with a study. But when she has her diploma, she doesn't know what to do with it. She showed both her arms which were fully covered with scratches and in some places it went quite deeply. Actually she doesn't want to live anymore. He said to her that he had great respect for her because under the difficult circumstances she picked up the thread yet again, and just continued again. What he said touched her very deeply. She fought against the tears which came in her eyes. He also talks about an African prostitute who was referred to them for shelter, she was pregnant of her pimp. He meets a girl aged 22 who didn't want a lot of contact with them. Today the door went wide open. She already had ingested large quantities of cheap wine, in order to persevere. This was daily nourishment for her, only this way she could cope with the day and the circumstances. Now she needed an arm around her, an encouraging word and for a moment a couple of people who truly cared about her. And there they were. Shoulder to shoulder.

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/06/hernieuwde-ontmoeting.html

In de Warmoestraat, they suddenly meet a woman whom they haven't seen in two years. A Hungarian woman in her thirties and a mother of six children. She told that she had come back because she and her husband could never find a job in Hungary because they are gypsies. It was impossible there to take care of the children and there was real poverty. More than two and half years ago when she still stood behind the window as a prostitute, she had stopped Frits Rouvoet and asked them if they were Christians. She gladly wanted them to pray for her, and that was the beginning of several meetings, beautiful conversations and many moments of prayer. One day she told them that she was going back, she couldn't cope with it anymore to give herself to all these men. They said goodbye to each other and they [Frits Rouvoet and co] could only hope and pray that things would go well for her. And there she was last week, very glad to see him. For two weeks that she was in the Netherlands she looked for Frits Rouvoet around the Victoria Hotel because she knew that their office was somewhere in the neighbourhood. Despite the fact that it was very difficult to make ends meet in Hungary, mentally things went well for her. She had sought contact with a church and let herself be baptised, and also her children were baptised. Each time she thought back about the moments that they spoke and prayed with each other, this was very emotional for her and even for her husband who was still a little bit distant from the faith. A couple of weeks ago also this man has chosen to ask Jesus in this life. In the Netherlands she tried with her husband to find work and when this didn't work out, the woman had carefully indicated to perhaps return into prostitution anyway for a period, to have money for their children. After which her husband said, "if you do that, I go back to Hungary and it is over between us, I don't want that". Shortly after this, they [Frits Rouvoet and co and the woman] met each other, they spoke with each other, and perhaps they [Frits Rouvoet and co] have found work for her. They hope that today they can make concrete steps for this purpose.

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/10/je-bent-geen-prostituee-maar-het-is-je.html

In the last few days he has spoken with a young Romanian girl. She's not older than 20. He knew her a bit already, and when she saw them she immediately wanted them to come in. After some platitudes he asked her what her dream was. She looked at him and she said that she would gladly become a translator. English/Romanian. She tried to read a lot in the English language and she was busy as much as possible to speak English. Frits Rouvoet thought that she did it quite well. She didn't really have a plan, so he gave her homework. The next time that he would see her, she had to have written down on paper what she thought was necessary to stop with prostitution, and to start working as a translator. Her eyes lighted up and she really liked it to make a plan. They spoke a little bit about education and other things. When they talked for a while with another lady in the same window, she came to him and said: actually I have another dream. Obviously he encouraged her to say this, but she thought that he would find it a little bit crazy. But she still wanted to say it anyway, and she shared that she gladly wanted to become a doctor. It was clearly visible that this really was a very deep wish of hers. After he asked why, she said that when her father was very ill some time ago in Romania, the doctor didn't want to help him because they couldn't pay him. She said that as a doctor she wanted to help everybody, if they can pay her or not. Frits Rouvoet doesn't know if she is able to finish this education with success. But what struck him so very much, was that this small, skinny and very young girl stands there so lonely with a sadness concerning her father (but also many others) who cannot make use of a doctor when this is necessary. There you stand in a small, red-illuminated little room far away from your family and friends which such a dream inside of you. Strange men who look at you with inspecting eyes, groups who make jokes about your body. Trying to make some money for the persons whom you love so much. For him she is not a prostitute who stands there, but a strong young lady who entered the situation because of circumstances. First as a victim of human trafficking, and now trying to make something of her life. In the only way which is within her reach. He tells that another very young Eastern European girl so happily wanted a small restaurant. She says that she doesn’t need to make so much money, only that she can take care of her parents and herself. Frits Rouvoet says that many people and also many people within politics, want us to believe that there is clean prostitution. Women who choose for it themselves. He didn’t meet them, there’s always a reason. He says that they choose again and again to stand next to these women; shoulder to shoulder, and where possible to help them to not only dream about their dreams, but that they also can live their dreams.

Next blog post:

http://www.fritsrouvoet.nl/2012/10/respect-voor-twee-dames.html

He just came back from de Wallen, it was very crowded there, with mainly English soccer supporters. Many women didn't come, and others left earlier. Lots of beer, screaming, Frits Rouvoet imagines to have them in front of his window. When they had just left they heard from one of the girls that the police should have interfered. It must really be scary to stand there, waiting for a client and then a half drunk guy visits you. One and a half weeks ago he met for the first time two women who spoke Spanish. The women winked at them and they tried to exchange some words. They were here for just two weeks, they came from Spain. When the women understood that they were Christians they wanted them to pray for the women. They invited the women to pay a visit to the office and two days later the women suddenly stood there. Right at that moment Frits Rouvoet was talking with a Dominican preacher, so he could immediately translate for them. Together with somebody of social work they had a good conversation and they could get some overview of their situation. The women indicated that they gladly wanted to stop, because this work was nothing for them. The money that they thought they could earn wasn’t there, and the costs were a lot higher than the earnings. Frits Rouvoet and co told after the stocktaking that it would be very difficult for the women to make ends meet but that together with the women they wanted to seek for possibilities. They could freely stay the night at a female friend’s place for a while [a female friend of Rouvoet], and Frits Rouvoet and co could weekly help with a food package. Today the women were at their office again for a short while, and they brought some documents and sent some emails again. It wouldn’t be easy according to Frits Rouvoet, but the women are determined to persevere. He believes that also these women are not here because it is so great to stand behind the window and to be watched by all sorts of men. They are here to earn some money for their children so that they can live, eat and finish their school. This is no human trafficking according to Frits Rouvoet, but he believes that also they are here forced! Forced by their financial situation. Two women, friends for years, he estimates them to be around 50 years old. The women never thought that they had to make such a step.