Friday, December 29, 2006

African prostitutes


Now the Africans. All the evidence indicates that the largest group, possible half or most of the African prostitutes in the Netherlands are from Ghana. There’s a large Ghanian community in the Netherlands. The second largest group are the Nigerians.

When you’ll hear or read stories about madams and voodoo, that mainly applies to the Nigerians. The Nigerian prostitutes in the Netherlands mainly come from the Edo area. And according to the Wikipedia article about voodoo ( ) 80 percent of the population in the Edo area is an adherent to that religion. Also in the South Eastern Ghana are some adherents. But the Ghanians the Netherlands don’t seem to follow that religion.

It is strange that many (app a quarter) of the reported victims of human trafficking are from Africa, while many fieldworkers have the impression that especially the African prostitutes are very independent and professional. But some others disagree. It is difficult to explain this contradiction.

African prostitutes are described in "Illegaliteit en minderjarigheid in de prostitutie een jaar na de opheffing van het bordeelverbod" by
Goderie, Spierings en ter Woerds (2002, translated from Dutch into English)
page 31:

That way the group of Brazilians has completely disappeared since 2000. Initially African women came in their place. These women were nearly all victim of human trafficking and lived here with false documents.
page 56-57:
The threatening of family can affect prostitutes who work for a pimp when they indicate they want to stop with the work. The employees of a shelter facility for juvenile prostitutes notice that this signal can particularly be applied to African girls. The girls coming from Africa have an unclear story (despite the interference of interpreters and experts) and are often confused. There’s the impression that they live under a great fear, which has the result that they do not dare to tell what’s going on. It seems that these girls tell a story which was formulated beforehand. After keeping asking questions things turn out to be not right or impossible. What is clear is that they themselves and their family members are threatened with lots of things if they would withdraw from their trafficker. For aid workers it is very difficult to keep in contact with them. Usually the African girls disappear quickly from the shelter facility with unknown destination.

Helft aangiften mensenhandel vals [half of the number of reports made to the police by victims of human trafficking are false] (De Pers, April 2nd 2009) [translated from Dutch]
(...) Edwin Boer of the Landelijk Expertisecentrum Mensenhandel emphasizes that each report made by a victim is taken seriously, but establishes that investigators increasingly encounter a general story. The supposed victim then cannot name concrete facts and circumstances, so says Boer in RTL nieuws. (...) especially Nigerian women are being forced to abuse the [B9]-arrangement. Often women are involved who are exploited as a prostitute. (...)

In "Tom Marfo strijdt tegen gedwongen prostitutie" (by Anton de Wit in "Volzin", 15 November 2002) reverend Tom Marfo who offers help to African prostitutes speaks about African prostitutes in the Netherlands (translated from Dutch into English):
“The first thing I feel from my Christian inspiration when I see the girls on the street is compassion. I got to talk to some of the girls. I asked them how they came here. Why they did this work.” He found out that most girls end up in prostitution against their will. They pay a lot of money to human traffickers, with the expectation they will get a job or education in Western Europe. “They are tricked. I know a young women who wanted to continue her study of law here, but who ended up straight on de Wallen.”

In “Prostitutie naar een illegaal en onzichtbaar circuit?” by M.D.E. (Margit) Averdijk (2002, translated from Dutch into English):
page 85-87:

From interviews it turns out that respondents have little information at their disposal about African prostitutes. The BRZ (Bureau Regionale Zedenpolitie = Bureau regional vice police) suspects that most African women are victim of human trafficking due to the implausible and identical stories they tell. Proprietors generally know little about the African women. Regarding this one proprietor told that African women never tell anything about their background or their motives.

Mostly they roam through the whole country and come on their own (without an escort) to the club where they work two or three days. As soon as proprietors ask too many questions, for example about their identification, they then disappear again. From RBS-mutations [Recherche Basis Systeem] it turns out that for example when proprietors have doubts about the residence and work status of African women, the women refuse to let their identification papers be checked by the BRZ. One proprietor remarks that these African women ‘very gladly want to work, for whatever reason.’ (…)
Vellinga (1999 “West-Afrikaanse AMA’s: vermist, maar ook gemist? Een onderzoek naar de voorkoming van verdwijning van West-Afrikaanse alleenstaande minderjarige asielzoekster (AMA’s) uit opvangcentra in Nederland.”) found out through analysis of criminal investigation researches that what the women are telling is a story which had previously been instructed to them. Many West African women say they are AMA [Alleenstaande Minderjarige Asielzoeker = Single Minor Asylum Seeker] and report they are 15 or 16 years old. They tell that their parents have diseased and furthermore have nobody. Onboard of the airplane they have been helped by an unknown man who wanted to ‘help’ them (Vellinga, 1999). The similarities with the stories which had been told by the African prostitutes who had been encountered in Twente, are striking.
The stories told by the women however are not the real stories. The true story is that the girls in the country of origin, often Nigeria, have been recruited for prostitution. The recruiters are often also the women who have themselves worked in prostitution in Europe, after returning a couple of years later being rich, and recruit new young women and girls to follow their footsteps. The parents of the girl are approached by a recruiter with the question if their daughter wants to work in a Western country. Because of poverty the parents give their daughters to a recruiter. Although girls often know that they will be working in prostitution, they do not know what that entails. According to research (Van Dijk and others, 1999, “Een schijn van voodoo. Culturele achtergronden van de handel in Nigeriaanse meisjes voor de Nederlandse prostitutie: een verkenning.”) the meaning of sexuality and prostitution in Africa is different. In the Netherlands the girls are often exposed to violence and are being forced to perform sexual acts which they (can and are allowed to) refuse in Nigeria.
The women owe the recruiters money that they have to pay back by working. A voodoo priest is brought in who enforces an agreement and makes sure that the woman pays off her debt. Women often walk into a trap, where there are not only towering, hardly redeemable debts, but also intimidating ritual practices in which the traffickers have a big hand. According to research (Van Dijk and others, 1999) this involves voodoo in a manipulative sense of the word, where there are all kinds of intimidating practices of traffickers who abuse certain rituals to fill the women with fear. The goal of these rituals, which can also take place in the Netherlands, is to create a threatening context in which the women could come under a great pressure to pay off their debts. For this purpose also physical threats and violence is used.
The Dutch asylum procedure is used to bring Western African women into the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany or elsewhere into prostitution. After arriving in the Netherlands the women, as was agreed, apply for political asylum, tell an instructed story and go - in relation to their (feigned) minority - into the AMA-procedure. In most cases the AMA’s leave the refugee centre within a view days ‘With Unknown Destination’. Namely after arriving in the refugee centre they call a memorised phone number of a trafficker in the Netherlands. The girls are collected and then are trafficked to a ‘madame’ for whom they have to work to pay off their debts (Vellinga, 1999).

Tom Marfo in "Breaking the spell" (in News Confidential, 21-7-2005, door Pete Saywer):
Marfo is typically modest about his achievements. Sitting in his flat with a commanding view overlooking the tower blocks, Marfo gestures towards the window. 'If we walked a bit down there I could show you where the women were marketed, bargained for and sold,' he says. 'The place was an open space-a sports area where people liked to be-but the bulldozers are very busy there now.'
'It was subtle and only those involved knew exactly what it was. For instance, you would see a guy walking [along] with three or four young girls. They would all have one trademark hairdo. Whenever you saw a guy with a lot of chains around his neck, or a woman with three or four girls following her, you knew it was a madam or a pimp.' The deals were done by nods and whispers. The girls were discreetly paraded in front of prospective buyers, sometimes from Belgium, Luxembourg or other parts of Europe. 'Usually the person who brings them will not put them to work but resell them to a second buyer,' explains Marfo. 'The second buyer may even sell them to a third buyer. But sure, the second buyer will use them.
'The price depends entirely on the physical appearance of the woman. A tall woman with a good figure and nice bone structure will get a good price, perhaps around 30,000 dollars.
'Once she's been "sold" her new "owner" will make her work to earn this money back. She remains a slave for a period of five to seven years. She has to work and she has to make about 60,000 to 80,000 dollars for this person. And until she's finished she remains effectively a slave.'
The girls are 'softened up' to make them more suitable for their new Owners, Marfo says. They are introduced to smoking, drinking and drugs to make them feel high and to lower their inhibitions, as for these girls it is a cultural shock too-they are not used to being naked in front of another person.
According to Marfo, the pimps and madams employ professional torturers and voodoo to scare the girls into submission. 'When the girls are bought they usually have to inculcate into them fear and respect [so that they] take orders, [and] never ask questions. 'It is a culture which is very heavily superstitious, with many gods. They take body parts like fingernails, blood from all parts of [the woman's] body, saliva, hair from her head, armpit and private parts, clothing and underwear. They use these to "conjure up" powers against you if you break any of their "rules". The girls believe that if they go against it they will die, and their parents will die. So [the gangs] keep them perpetually in this bondage.
'Coupled with this voodoo, there is the physical torture that they undergo daily. They are told that if they ever go to the police they are dead.
'But for many the biggest torture is psychological. It is threats against their parents back home in Africa. The girls are told that if they do not cooperate, their parents, brothers and sisters will be killed. The mother will call [and say] that people have come to her and threatened to kill her because she has been misbehaving. The mother will be pleading with her to work obediently.
'They become very pliable. I know of cases where even after they have been rescued they go back to the pimps. They have been so psychologically imprisoned that independence from them is quite a big task.
'Before they are brought here, legal contracts are sometimes signed by the parents, giving out their children to be sold like this. These are illiterate children and parents from the villages. They have never heard the word "dollar" before and they have no idea what it is, let alone how much it is in their currency. They have no idea that it means you have to be a slave for so many years.
'These girls are brought over as teenagers and they never finish paying until they are in their mid-to-late 20s. By the time they have finished paying, their whole womanhood is wasted and their life destroyed.
If the women are unlucky enough to fall pregnant through their work they face the prospect of a botched back-street abortion. 'Some of the girls have even been threatened with having their stomach hacked open and the foetus forcibly removed,' says Marfo. 'All these things put terrible stress on them and I have seen many cases where they have lost their minds.'


When the girls come to me I have a network and I call the madam or someone [like that]. If the pimp calls I speak to him politely. 'I say, "Come on let's talk. She is now my child; I am her custodian. She is mine." They respect me very highly within the community. All these girls and these pimps are also very religious. The pastor occupies a very high position. Often we resolve it very peacefully. A few times when they have tried to be stubborn, the perpetrators who have been converted handled the case and not me. 'At least 300 people have passed through my hands. The most exciting thing to me is when I see them put it behind them and get married, and I have the honour of blessing them-acting as both priest and father.'

More Marfo in Bevlogen pastor vecht tegen prostitutie (March 1, 2005) source website of IKON-RTV (translated from Dutch into English):
According do the reverend there worked some 3000 African girls in the prostitution of Amsterdam in 2001 and 2002. [PS: I don’t believe that] “When at dawn you came to the Central Station to the metro, you saw hundreds of African girls who all came from de Wallen and were on their way to their place of residence in de Bijlmer.” Also thanks to the hard struggle of the Ghanian pastor, who from his organization Christian Aid and Resource Foundation (CARF) sets up all kinds of projects to shelter these women, this number has dropped to approximately 250. But also stricter police inspections and the declined economy have played a role, because suddenly not so much money could be made like during nineties.

A response of the Red Thread on their website ( ) to the article by Menno van Dongen ("driekwart van de prostituees uitgebuit", May 4th, 2007) in the Volkskrant.
Three quarters of the prostitutes on de Wallen are rumoured to be working under some form of force. We are always wary about giving percentages, but we know that a lot is wrong in prostitution. Anyway, we know that many Eastern European prostitutes work under the supervision of a pimp or another criminal. We also have doubts about the level of independence of African prostitutes. What we do about it? We have information in many languages for women who want to change their situation. We hand it out on average once per month. We would like to do that more often, but we have limited means. We regularly emit signals of abuse in prostitution and are also a walking encyclopaedia for prostitutes. (…)

Verklaring over de uitzetting illegale prostituees [Declaration about the expulsion of illegal prostitutes](Amsterdam, June 2003 , of participants from het Platform verbetering positie (migranten) prostituees [Platform for the improvement of the position of (migrant) prostitutes], translated from Dutch into English) :
It is commonly known that many Nigerian women were transported to the Netherlands by criminal networks. Some fieldworkers report that many African prostitutes make a frightened impression. We have also learned that many among them cannot have control over their own passport. Aside from that many clients complain that many of these women ‘clearly don’t like the work’. These are all matters which score high on the list of possible signals of women trafficking. One can also wonder if some women who rob clients ‘together with their boyfriends’ do that completely of their own free will.

Artikel uit de Groene Amsterdammer over Nigeria (“Er is weer stroom”, by Joris van Casteren, 16-6-99) The name of Mudiaga Ofuoku is often mispelled in this article, I corrected this. Also see an article by the Ofuoku. It's called "Sex Export Dirty details of young Nigerian girls being sent to Europe for prostitution" (July 27, 1999), translated from Dutch into English:
When Dotun Oladipo is ready, editor Mudiaga Ofuoku is allowed behind the computer. His piece is about Nigerian women and minor Nigerian girls who disappear into Western prostitution. Ofuoku has discovered after intensive research that during the last couple of years the Netherlands is an increasingly more popular destination. Ofuoku: ‘The circumstances in the Netherlands are good for Nigerian prostitutes. Better anyway than in Italy, where for ages the girls went to. Dutch people are much more calmer in bed than Italians. The girls were ought to make love with dogs and gorillas by the Italians. That doesn’t happen in the Netherlands. There even seems to be a labour union for whores in the Netherlands.’
That the girls are forced into prostitution by criminal organizations is a misconception according to Ofuoku. ‘In nine out of ten cases it are the parents or husbands who sell the girls as slaves. Especially in Benin City (a city three hundred kilometres east of Lagos – jvc) this happens on a big scale. People in Benin are show-offs. When one has a beautiful second-hand car in front of the door, the other one has an even more beautiful second-hand car. He can’t allow it but he’ll sacrifies his wife or daughter for it. They were ought to send as much money as possible from abroad or to return after several years with a big fortune.’
Ofuoku has just come back from Benin. ‘When you walk through the city you see relatively many more expensive houses and cars than in other Nigerian cities. I have spoken with five girls. One of them was on the brink of travelling to the Netherlands. They don’t fly directly from Lagos to Amsterdam anymore, but via Ghana or Ivory Coast.’ It doesn’t matter according to Ofuoku how strictly the Netherlands inspects, the girls will find their way anyhow. ‘When they have entered the country they report themselves as asylum seeker. Or they seduce the military policemen, that seems to be easy. In Amsterdam there’s a network that makes sure that the girls are taken from the [refugee-]centre.’

Liesbeth Venicz about African prostitutes in her report “Achter de ramen, veldwerk onder raamprostituees in Groningen” [“Behind the windows, fieldwork among window prostitutes in Groningen”](1998). She had contact with 18 African prostitutes: 12 Ghanian, 5 Nigerian and 1 Sudanese. (translated from Dutch into English):
page 9:
Most African women come from Ghana and Nigeria. Also they work for family in the country of origin [just like the Latin American women she mentioned earlier]. It is sometimes difficult to approach the African women. A problem that is also observed in other places in the country. They often switch a lot from workplace and residence just like the Latin American women and they are not always approachable. Especially when their residence permit is not completely in order. Especially official authorities are distrusted, which is given the experiences in the home country, not surprising. Also African women are apt to solve problems within their own group.
page 13:
It is striking that in this area [concerning pimps] the African and Latin American women adopt a more independent attitude than the European women. While shaking her head, the Nigerian B. tells about the row she witnessed earlier that day between a Dutch prostitute and her boyfriend, everybody in the street knows that he beats her. She doesn’t understand that the girl stays with him. “European women believe they are nothing without a man.”

"Achter het cliché — hulp en dienstverlening aan prostituees in Den Haag — werkmethodiek in ontwikkeling" [“Behind the cliché — aid and services to prostitutes in The Hague — working methology in development”] (1999, Ellie Teunissen [red.], SPP [Stichting Prostitutie Projecten Den Haag])
page 32:

The African women form a very closed group, which furthermore is very internally divided between different nationalities and cultures. They mostly turn out not to have a passport at their disposal and are strictly convinced that they are being discriminated by the white world because of their skin colour. Most of them have a long journey behind them. They have found excellent survival strategies and won’t divulge them. Assistance has difficulties approaching these women. The African women can be approached by churches and find support here for their spiritual needs, in their relationship to God. Their relationship with social institutes is minimal. Because it is insufficiently clear which nationality they have, English or French surely is the medium of communication, but the conversations don’t make clear where really is need for. Because there are so many nationalities and cultures, it is difficult to establish which kind of female fieldworker should be brought into action to gain trust. Acquiring a Dutch residence permit is the most important question.

In the report “Gezondheid in de raamprostitutie” ["Health in window prostitution"] (1992) by Dr Licia Brussa African prostitutes are being interviewed on the Achterdam in Alkmaar (page 17-19). These African women were probably from Ghana (once she mentions them as being Ghanian).The response was almost one hundred percent, so it cannot be said that only the emancipated women have been interviewed (she spoke with 5 African women). Also here are the result completely the reverse of the information I mentioned earlier about African prostitutes. (translated from Dutch into English):
The African women are satisfied about their workplace and in general also about their work. They experience the atmosphere as good, relaxed and calm. They find the chambers big and clean. (…)
The closeness of this group is also very big [just like the Latin Americans mentioned earlier in that report], they arrange everything with their fellow countrywomen. The rest of the environment (operators, colleagues, doctor) have to keep a distance. Others are not experienced as hostile, but they are different. Most of all, the women believe it’s a sign of dependency when asking for help. (…)
The African women have chosen the workplace themselves. They got information about working in Alkmaar from girlfriends who introduced them here. Before their departure they already were given information that they would be working here in prostitution; therefore they were aware about the purpose of their trip.
The working hours of this group are reasonable: six hours a day on average. Therefore the women work much less that the Latin American women. They say that they rest a lot and they determine the working hours for themselves. Furthermore they are satisfied about their income: they have no debts which have to be paid off, and they feel much less - compared to the Latin American women - the pressure of the duty to maintain their families. (…)
The reason to leave their country, with the knowledge that they would work in the Netherlands as prostitutes, is also different than of the Latin American women. For Latin American women economical motives apply: debts or the care of their children. African women say: I wanted to travel and look how it is in other countries, that’s good for your upbringing, or: You can also learn of other countries. So it’s all about a choice that they made for themselves: to gain experience or to educate themselves personally.

“Handel in Nigeriaanse meisjes naar Nederland” [“Traffic in Nigerian girls to the Netherlands”](1999) by Terre des Hommes and the NDMN (De Nigeriaanse Vereniging Nederland [The Nigerian foundation in the Netherlands]). (translated from Dutch into English):
page 21:
Bierhuizen of the team Mensenhandel en Prostitutie [human trafficking and prostitution]:“It looks as if the Nigerians don’t have to put much pressure on the girls. Often the girls go to their workplace independently and nobody stands outside to watch over them. Through the use of voodoo it is not necessary to threaten them and this way you can exploit them for months or years.” Venicz of the NISSO: “Nigerians barely show interest in violence. Through violence the girls don’t work well and moreover they don’t look well. For Nigerians it’s not about the sex but about the money. They won’t initiate a virgin by raping her, but by selling her for extra money. You can call Nigerians the ‘soft-mafia’. Eastern European Mafiosi guard the girls, are better organized and use more sex and violence.”

Voodoo many times seems to be not so intimidating for the Nigerian women as many imagine. According to the report “Een schijn van Voodoo” (2000) bij the Afrika Studie Centrum the importance of voodoo is strongly overestimated. Voodoo as we now it here (with the zombies and the dolls) is different than the voodoo in Benin. These rituals are very common and are a very normal practice. Often agreements between persons are enforced by a ritual in a temple, the priests collects material from the bodies of the persons (like sperm or hair) and put that into a small package. So the fact that many Nigerian prostitutes in the Netherlands underwent a voodoo-ritual is not so strange at all and probably many times those experiences were not so nasty for the women. But the report gives some examples where those experiences actually were intimidating (like being locked into a big pot for days). Sometimes the traffickers perform the rituals themselves. This report also says that many Nigerian prostitutes are not so prudish about sex at all. The sexual freedom for women and girls in the Edo area in Nigeria is big. Many prostitutes probably already had paid sexual relationships, but they didn’t expect that they were supposed to work under such bad circumstances in the Netherlands.

There's also the report “Tutu, Ghanese prostituées in Nederland” (1995) by Babbe de Thouars and Marc van Osch. They (secretly) interviewed 5 prostitutes among many other (Ghanian) respondents. According to this report there were some estimated 15.000 Ghanians in the Netherlands in 1992 of whom 10.000 in Amsterdam (estimates by the vreemdelingendienst = aliens registration department). In 1994 there were 7.026 Ghanians who were registered, over 50% of them lived in Amsterdam (translated from Dutch into English):
page 20:
After arrival in the Netherlands the ethnic background is not registered or recorded in the identity papers. For that reason there is no exact data available about the ethnic background of the Ghanian migrants. It is presumable however that the majority of the Ghanians who reside in the Netherlands belong to the Akan-group, of whom the Ashanti are a majority (Van 't Hoff 1992). In Ghana 44% of the population belongs to this group.
page 23:
From an exploratory research among Ghanian prostitutes in Amsterdam in 1992 it comes to the fore that comparatively many of the women prostitute themselves. The share of prostitutes was called relatively high and amounts to a quarter of the registered women. Given the fact that the number of illegal Ghanians vastly exceeds the number of legal Ghanians this proportion says little about the real scale of the share of prostitutes. Nonetheless the position that a comparatively large proportion of the Ghanian women works in prostitution is subscribed to by many Ghanians. (…)
page 24:
The Ghanian researcher Akosua Adomako did a research in 1991 into causes of why Ghanian women in Europe and the Netherlands ended up in prostitution. She made a discernment into three groups. As the first she named the women who were victim of women trafficking. Traffickers bring the women through deception and false pretences to Europe with the goal of letting them prostitute themselves. The second category contains the women who by their illegal residence status, financial need and the lack of alternatives are forced into prostitution. A proportion of these women have monetary obligations towards their family or persons who have paid for their travel to Europe. Problems with their debt relief is a problem in which prostitution seems to offer a solution. The last group contains the group of professional prostitutes who come to Europe because they view the European prostitution market as one which has more possibilities.
Mathilde Papoe concludes in her research that of the prostitutes in Europe a third was already working in prostitution before migrating to Europe, a third had a vague idea what kind of work was awaiting them and the rest expected to find a good job or a serious marriage partner (De Stoop 1992, 'Ze zijn zo lief mijnheer'). (…)
page 26:
From our research it turns out that for a large number of women from Ghana there’s no real freedom of choice when they end up in prostitution. Their situation leaves no other option. It’s clear that the illegal residence status op de Ghanian women plays an important role: it weakens their position and therefore limits their freedom of choice and possibilities. Prostitution becomes a means to survive. With that comes the fact that the women who stay here have a larger chance of becoming a victim of traffickers and pimps.
Nearly all respondents were familiar with the fact that Ghanian women were brought to Europe with the goal of bringing them into prostitution. In many case the women are recruited in Ghana and eventually forced by deception, blackmailing and violence to prostitute themselves in the Netherlands. (…)
page 29:
The general tendency which is observed is that the number of Ghanian women in window prostitution during the last few years is dwindling. The Decentrale Controle Prostitutie sees the Ghanian group shifting more and more to the –unfavourable- nightly hours and their numbers declining.
For example the Oudekerksplein formerly was completely Ghanian. And we noticed that there, now certainly also during the evening, there are only Colombian and Dominican girls with only a few Ghanians in between them.
page 35:

For many Ghanians it is important to have a husband or wife to be a respected member of society. For the prostitutes having a man is therefore a way to cover up their working practices. (…)
Because almost nobody wants a prostitute as a wife it is said that the woman has to buy a man. She is dying because nobody loves her, so she has to buy it, says a female respondent. Conversely what applies to men: … the men come in to get something. Not love, they only want their money. (…)
The boyfriends of these women are partly the men who lure the women from Ghana with false promises to then force them into prostitution. Another group are the men who approach these women because of the money what they earn. Multiple respondents call them lazy and cheap. The boyfriends bring the women to their work and collect them. They don’t protect the women during their work, but sit all day in front of the television drinking and smoking, of the money that the women earn.
Nearly all the respondents report the fact that the boyfriends also try to obtain residence permits through the women. When this has be achieved they are rumoured to often leave with another woman. The money is often used for the needs of the man.
page 38-39:
The image of prostitutes is fairly stereotypical and this way gives information about how one thinks about the women. The women are associated with things like smoking, drinking, drugs and all these things…
During a visit to a prostitute it turned out that she indeed already drank beer in the morning and smoke joints. She told that she never took breakfast and when food was offered to her in the afternoon she refused. She couldn’t tell why she never ate. A Dutch prostitute who works with multiple Ghanian prostitutes in the same passage [window prostitution], told also to be surprised about the eating, smoking and drinking habits of the women.
According to one respondent the women don’t eat because they don’t want to eat alone.
Sometimes they make good food, but they can’t eat. Maybe they want somebody to join them. Africa is so. (In Africa it is customary to eat together. Because nobody wants to eat with her here, eating alone is probably too confrontational. BdT and MvO)

From "Migrant Prostitutes In The Netherlands" by Licia Brussa in "A Vindication of the Rights of Whores" edited by Gail Pheterson (1989), based on a pilot study on migrant prostitutes in Amsterdam in 1985:
page 236-237:
In the last four years the presence of Ghanaian women became more conspicuous in the Dutch prostitution world. A small percentage of the African prostitutes come from other countries (such as Somalia, Mozambique, Senegal or Ethiopia) but most of them come fram Ghana. It is difficult to come into contact with the Ghanaian women because, like Southeast Asian women, they usually work in clubs, bars, private houses, peep shows and to a small extent behind the windows in the red-light district. Also, they live in a closed community and sixty percent of them are illegal. They tend to consult private doctors and not to use social services; they prefer solving their problems through informal contacts within their own community. Due to their background and their social-cultural position in their own country, Ghanaian women are business-like, active and independent, also in relation to men.
The presence of many Ghanaians among illegal immigrants is linked to Ghanaian trade. Generally the immigration pattern is like a chain reaction; the man leaves Ghana first, followed by his wife, followed by other relatives and fellow-villagers. In this situation of illegal family re-uniting, the man usually cannot support his wife and other relatives on his small, unsteady trade. Periods of extreme poverty are not uncommon.
Little data is available on traffic in African women. Some women did talk about networks between Ghana and Europe. Important connections are said to exist with French criminal organizations and some cases are known about cooperation between European agents and the African underworld. Women are sometimes transported to Europe by way of marriages-of-convenience, arranged in Britain, France, Gibraltar or Germany. Thus, a certain percentage of the Ghanaian women possess a Dutch passport because of marriage to a Dutch man. It seems unlikely, however, that the traffic in African women is set up by a large-scale international organization.

From 'Tampep - final report' (1994, edited by Licia Brussa)
Page 47-49:
Sex workers from Ghana and Benin.

The women
The target group of TAMPEP in Holland consists of women from Ghana and Benin. They are mostly Ghanaians who speak English or at least Pidgin English, but they do not speak Dutch.
These women originate predominantly from the town of Kumasi in the Ashanti region while a minority comes from Accra.
We approached these women at the windows in Alkmaar, Arnhem and Nijmegen.
Their reasons for travelling to Europe are always economic, because their backgrounds are usually poor, they come to find work in order to care for their relatives back home and also to be able to live better lives. They find work and earn money they would never be able to get in their own country.
The women try to improve the economic situations of their families by buying them some machinery or cars so they can use it in their countries.
African culture demands that you look after your family, otherwise you are useless. This is especially so when travelling abroad because those who have not been abroad think it is paradise in Europe, and they assume there will be plenty of opportunity to help their families in Africa.
Most of the women have children in Ghana who are being taken care of by the family.
The population of Ghana can be divided into three social groups. The top one consists of the self-employed who are generally rich, the middle one is made up of the civil servants, and on the bottom are the unemployed and poor people. The civil servants, although they have permanent work, do not earn much money.
The social role of Ghanaian women is based on the fact that they have to be able to bear children, otherwise they are worthless. When a woman is infertile, her relationship with her husband is not very stable because the man can always find another woman who can have children for him.
Ghanaians believe - and live - in the extended family, so everyone in a family has to behave well in order to preserve the good name of his/her family.
The women consider Europe to be a paradise where one becomes rich quickly. Many of them become disappointed when they realize that life is not so easy in Europe and feel pity that they left behind their better jobs. They regret coming but cannot go back because they either have debts to settle or have sold all their properties. They cannot go back with bare hands, so they accept any work.
Since prostitution is taboo in Ghana, the women do not consider themselves as prostitutes. Prostitution is for them a way to get big money quickly. None of their relatives back in Africa will ever know what kind of profession they exercised during their stay in Europe.
Some of them wish to bring over their children to Europe, so they are in a hurry to earn sufficient capital to allow them to finish with the profession as soon as their children arrive and show them that their mothers are normal, respectable women who have nothing to do with prostitution.
Many of them have given birth to children in Africa before they set off for Europe. Normally they break up with the father of their children before travelling and find themselves a new boyfriend in Europe. They are afraid that their profession might lead to infertility, so if they do not have children yet, they try to have a child before they get really deeply into the job.

How they arrive in the West
The ways they come here are varied. In most cases they are brought over by their families in order to live with people who have already settled themselves in Europe.
In other cases, they are brought by husbands, relatives, or by someone else on an agreement to take something back like money or a car. The women do not explicitly come to work in prostitution - they would take any job that is available. But as they have no permission to stay, or a work permit, many of them will be compelled to work in prostitution, especially if their transfer is being arranged by a sister who is a prostitute herself, or by a stranger who wishes something in return.
If such a go-between is a stranger who demands a considerable amount of money for her or his services, prostitution is the only way to earn enough to cover debts plus saving some money to return to Ghana.
Their routes to the Netherlands are varied; in most cases they acquire the visa of any European country, and then they travel from one country to another. African women are popularly known to work in windows, so we chose to work in windows and not in clubs, where very few are found.

Ghanaian prostitutes in Holland
The Ghanaian female community can be divided socially into three groups. The top group is formed by women who are not prostitutes, the middle consists of the ex-prostitutes and the bottom group is formed by women who currently work in prostitution.
There is much rivalry and jealousy between these groups. The women working currently as prostitutes feel ashamed and guilty, but at the same time they despise the other women because they have no money. The women of the first group feel themselves superior to the rest. The former prostitutes are despised by all the others.
At the beginning, even if the prostitutes come from different regions and tribes of Ghana, they are friendly to each other provided they have no conflict based on jealousy or rivalry, which happens quite often. In such a situation the women quarrel, accuse each other of using juju (black magic), or even beat each other up.
They like to work with white men, specially with Dutch and some tourists (Germans, Italians etc) because they are generous. On the other hand, other tourists (British) are not very much liked as customers because they are difficult in terms of money.
They find that the white clients have more respect for white prostitutes than for the black ones.
They never work with blacks, unless in very bad times, but then they make sure they are not from Africa or they are not a friend of their husband's.
The Turks and Moroccans who live in Holland are considered as wicked, and the women do not like working with them.

The mobility of the women
African prostitutes are very mobile. They have many contacts in Europe through their relatives and friends. Most of the women we approached circulate continuously between different countries and towns in Europe. Their mobility is due to the fact that they work without pimps so they are free to move. They also want to work far away from their community in order not to be recognised by someone they know.
Some women with a husband living in Amsterdam or elsewhere, go home every couple of weeks and stay there for some time. At the same time they want to keep their workroom and window, so the women have developed something of a network, exchanging the rooms with a girlfriend and keeping their belongings there. So the woman never lets the room go. When she plans to move to another town, she arranges that her colleague takes over the room during her absence.
If the woman works far away from her home, she does not come home often because the distance is so large. She stays away for about three months and then goes home for three or four weeks.

The women from Benin
The Benin women who claim themselves as Nigerians are in many aspects different from the Ghanaians. They are not very numerous in the Netherlands.
They maintain close relations with each other and there are no conflicts between them.
They can read and write well.
They have a great deal of respect for their bodies and they always want to know more facts about safe practices. They are much more open and participate fully and ask questions about anything they do not know. This is probably due to the fact that they feel free in the Netherlands because they are not under the control of their own communities or husbands as would be the case in Belgium or Italy.
They accept themselves as prostitutes (but only in Europe) so they are eager to learn more about their profession. They are willing to learn all sorts of new things from TAMPEP provided they sound reasonable to them. They pass this knowledge quickly to their fellow Nigerians, whichever country they may be in. They are also mobile but only between Belgium and Italy.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Latin American prostitutes


The Latin American prostitutes in the Netherlands seem to be very independent and rely on their own networks. However, there are also indications that many also have large debts towards the people who brought them here, and that's a sign of human trafficking (actually that simply IS human trafficking).

Things are complicated here. Things seem to be better for the Dominican and Colombian women at this moment (but not in the past).

Okay, I have to stress here that the nationalities of the Latin American women are not evenly distributed over the different sectors (like window-prostitution and clubs). In the clubs and privé-huizen (those clubs without a bar) the Brazilian women dominate among the Latin American women.

"Tippelen na de zone (straatprostitutie en verborgen prostitutie in Amsterdam)" by Dirk J. Korf, Erika van Vliet, Jaap Knotter and Marije Wouters (2005)
page 130 (translated from Dutch into English):

The Latinas come independently and voluntarily join a – usually not hierarchically organized - informal network of girlfriends.

"Illegaliteit, onvrijwilligheid en minderjarigheid in de prostitutie een jaar na de opheffing van het bordeelverbod" by Goderie, Spierings en ter Woerds (Juli 2002), also see this post
page 21 (translated from Dutch into English):

Aside from the group of Eastern European women there are also women from the EU, Germany for instance, and also from South America and Africa. The impression of informants is that women of the last two parts of the world have a residence permit at their disposal through partners, be it or not through marriages or relationships of convenience. A Croatian woman said with respect to that: “That relation-situation is obviously a fake situation. Everybody knows obviously.” The South American women have a solid network and have been in the Netherlands for a longer period of time. They help each other, take care of each other and it seems that illegality does not or rarely occurs among this group.

From the report 'Loverboys' of modern pooierschap in Amsterdam ['Loverboys or modern pimphood in Amsterdam] (by Frank Bovenkerk and others, 2004), also see my post on loverboys and modern pimps to see more details:(translated from Dutch)
Page 34:

All policemen whom we speak with, say that the vast majority of the prostitutes on de Wallen have a pimp-boyfriend in one form or another. Ladies from the Dominican Republic and Colombia are actually the only ones who work completely independent (at least independent of men in the Netherlands).

"derde rapportage van de nationaal rapporteur" (Dutch version, this piece is missing in the English version), Anna Korvinus (Juli 2004)
page 84 (translated from Dutch into English):

Brazilian NGO’s report to the BNRM (Bureau Nationaal Rapporteur Mensenhandel) that a large proportion of the returned victims [to Brazil] of exploitation were put the work in the sex-industry in the Netherlands. A proportion of them are rumoured to have come to the Netherlands through Surinam, so says a summary of a research of the ngo IBISS [Instituto Brasileiro de Inovações em Saúde Social] into the trade of women and minors for sexual purposes. Also in the research of Leal en De Fátima Leal (2003) the Netherlands comes forward as an important country of destination (Spain is on the first place). In the registrations until (and including) 2002 of the STV [Foundation Against Trafficking in Women], the IND [Immigration and Naturalization Service], the police and the Openbaar Ministerie (OM) [Public Prosecutor] Brazilian victims are rarely registered. It is suggested that this may be because they are not recognized as victims because of the sketched marriage (of inconvenience)-construction. In connection to this it is interesting that according to Leal and the Fátima Leal (2003) in a certain region of Brazil a brochure circulated for some time with the text ‘Brazil/Netherlands Do you wat to meet a kind man? …’ Also the STV [Foundation Against Trafficking in Women] suspects that the fact that hardly any South American victims are reported doesn’t mean that they are not there, but that “an own support-network or system” makes that little appeal is done on regular aid (STV annual report 2002, p. 21).

You can find that Leal & Leal report here:
It's called: "Study on trafficking in women, children and adolescents for commercial sexual exploitation in Brazil"
In the thesis by van M.D.E. Averdijk ("Prostitutie naar een illegaal en onzichtbaar circuit?", 2002) about Brazilian prostitutes in Twente: (see page 79 tot 81, translated from Dutch into English):
In section 5.2 (also see table 3) it turned out that a large proportion of the prostitutes who worked in Twente until 2000 were from Brazil. These (Northern-) Brazilian women usually came to Twente through the mediation of a group of proprietors who had several prostitution businesses in their care. One of these proprietors started from the mid eighties to recruit women from Northern-Brazil for the prostitution-sector in Twente. From the PAREL-investigation and other police-information it turns out that through this group of proprietors there worked on average, and from the mid nineties reasonably constant, approximately 60 to 80 Brazilian women. For other proprietors there worked another 20 Brazilian women (…)
At the BRZ [Bureau Regionale Zedenpolitie = Bureau Regional Vice Police] there are a number of testimonies (not reports of human trafficking) available of Brazilian prostitutes about the way at which they came to the Netherlands and their living- and labour conditions in this town. In total there are testimonies of fourteen different Brazilian women examined which have been drawn up in 1998 (2) en 1999 (12). (…)

Nearly all women of whom the testimonies have been examined seem to have been recruited by a contact of the group of proprietors in Brazil. Two of these women stated to have been lured under false pretexts to Twente, namely work in a snack bar and in a factory. The other women knew beforehand that they would be working as a prostitute. From the examined testimonies it turns out that these women came straight from Brazil (…)
If then one looks at the treatment of these women, first of all the high debts they had when they arrived at Twente catches the attention. For the plane ticket, that the proprietors advanced initially, the women were supposed to pay back about 4200 guilders [~1900 euros] so it seemed from the testimonies, while a ticket only costs 1500-2000 guilders (also see the PAREL-team, 1997). Some of these women knew beforehand that they had these high debts, others heard it only in Twente. (…)
The PAREL-team already indicates that there were multiple signals that the women had a limited freedom of movement and that also seems from the testimonies of the women. They stated that generally they had no freedom to do and not to do what they wanted. They had long working hours: on average they stated to work seven days a week, from 12.00 till 04.00 hours working in several clubs in Hengelo and Enschede. Most women stated that they were not forced to work during their menstrual period, but they couldn’t just take a day off. (…)
It also seemed that the women usually were locked into their sleeping premises. When they did have a day off, for instance during their menstrual period, the women were supposed to stay in their room and in the sleeping premises there was mostly someone present who took care that the women didn’t leave. Most women didn’t have a key of the premises; when they wanted to leave they had to do it through the window and the fire escape. (…)
Concerning the money made, the women stated that either way this was stored by the proprietors in a safe or it was sent to Brazil (also see PAREL-team, 1997). Where one woman stated to get money from the safe when she asked for that, multiple other women stated never to have received any money, sometimes even after three months working.
From the testimonies it turns out that also physical means and threats were used to keep the women ‘under ones thumb’. One of the women declared once to have been beaten up by a proprietor. Other women said to have heard that women were beaten up, but didn’t experience that themselves. A woman declared that she was obliged to have sex with one of the proprietors (the other women declared not to have been sexually harassed by the proprietors). Some women declared to have been threatened by the proprietors. In one case a number of women were threatened with death because they wanted to return to Brazil after two weeks working. In a second case a girl was threatened because her proprietor wanted that she stopped her relationship with a client. (…)
From the examined testimonies it turns out that the women took the bad working conditions for granted from the viewpoint of their own financial situation. With the money that was left after deduction of the debts, and which was little money compared to Dutch standards, they could do a lot in their home country, so they stated themselves.
8.2.2 Situation since 2000
In section 6.3.2 it was already discussed that many Brazilian women nowadays work independently. They solicit the clients themselves and don’t work anymore for the group of proprietors they worked for previously. Although some Brazilian women seem to have fallen into the hands of pimps, the proprietors and prostitutes believe that in general they are reasonably independent. (…)

Liesbeth Venicz in her report "Achter de ramen, veldwerk onder raamprostituees in Groningen" (1998) about Latin American women in window prostitution in Groningen (she had contact with 42 Latin American prostitutes: 29 Dominican, 9 Colombian, 1 Venezuelan, 1 Argentine, 1 Brazilian en 1 Jamaican prostitute):
page 9 (translated from Dutch into English):

Most originating from the Dominican Republic and Colombia. Most women are older than thirty and some even older than forty. A proportion has been in the Netherlands for a longer period. The women who have just arrived and the illegal women often lead a nomadic existence. They often work for a short period to prevent expulsion. During their stay in Europe they work in a great many cities and countries. Most women have children and other family members, like younger brothers and sisters or elderly parents the country of origin, for whom they earn a living. Aside from that they also save money for their own house. When that is achieved one saves usually for a taxi, a store or something else where they can make a living when they are back in the home country. Most Latinas who work her are not highly educated and rarely speak something different than Spanish. Therefore they have few contacts with other nationalities, but a lot with each other. Especially the Dominican women have in the last 15 years that they worked in the Netherlands, built a nice own network. Through this network childcare is arranged for instance, but also information is exchanged about rights and arrangements, lawyers and aid.

Dr Licia Brussa in the report “Gezondheid in de raamprostitutie” (1992) about Latin American prostitutes in window prostitution on the Achterdam in Alkmaar.
page 10-17 (translated from Dutch into English):

Of the 10 Latin American women we have interviewed, three worked a year a longer on the Achterdam; the others have just started: they are active for a month or shorter. These women have also been in the Netherlands for a short period (half a year or less).
All respondents have no past as a prostitute. They first time they started to work in prostitution was in the Netherlands, directly after their arrival. They already knew before their departure that they would be working in prostitution, and they also knew in what form (behind the window). Only one of them has also worked in a club. Some had experience in window prostitution in other cities. They also knew something about the working conditions, the possible amount of income and the situation of prostitution in the Netherlands.
For all of them the motives to come to the Netherlands and to work there in prostitution were based on economic necessity. They had big financial problems and debts. Except for one woman they all have children in their home country and they are the breadwinner. Their close relatives is dependent on their income. Nearly all had a job before their departure, as factory or in the services sector. Also for the women who had good qualified work – most of the respondents had a high school diploma – their salaries are not sufficient to make a living. The debts made their economic prospects hopeless. (…)
The Latin American women confer a lot with each other, talk a lot about their worries and problems. That they have such a strong bond, is probably also because they are the majority among the prostitutes and clearly are present as a group. Especially there’s a lot of solidarity between the Dominican women. The working hours are very long; the women work a lot more than other groups: 12 to 15 hours a day. They decide for themselves how many hours they work. That they have to make such long days has an economic cause: the debts which they have to pay back and the care of the maintenance of their family. The impression is that the women are free; there is no third party who exploit them or compel them to work, in any case not on the work place. The attitude and the answers of the women confirms this impression. But they do have to pay back third persons who have lent out money for the travelling expenses. These amounts of money are often very high. The women experience the duty to pay it back as a moral duty, because these people have taken risks for them. Therefore none of these women back out of this obligation: it’s a matter of principles. (…)
The Latin American women are not satisfied with their income; they believe that they make to little money. Only one woman is satisfied. This dissatisfaction over their earnings is determined to a large extent by the fact that they only work here in prostitution to achieve an economic goal, and that they take this work as temporary. The longer it takes to achieve their goal, to go back home, the more difficult it becomes for them. After all these women have the large and heavy task to regularly send money to their family. That is not easy with work of which the earnings are very irregular. And what’s even difficult is that they only just can have a free income (for them) at their disposal and to be able to save money, after they have paid off the debts for their travelling expenses.

"VOOR DE DRAAD ERMEE Een opsomming van wantoestanden in de prostitutiesector in de noordelijke provincies" ["Out with it - a list of abuses in the prostitution sector in the Northern provinces"] (Red Thread, summer 2005, translated from Dutch into English)
(…) So we see that many women through all the financial contributions they have to offer to third persons, they have to stay much longer in the Netherlands than they intended. We know that their families not always accept the fruits of their labour with appreciation what can even result in exclusion. One of us has even taken a look in Brazil, since a couple of years an important country of origin for victims of human trafficking in the Netherlands, and has spoken with women who haven returned from the Netherlands. Although these women knew that they would be going into prostitution, they described the situation in the Netherlands as one of exploitation and human trafficking. Perhaps unnecessarily we point out that there could also be a situation of human trafficking when there was no deceit about the nature of the work.
This visit to Brazil yielded a sad image of women who were mentally and physically exhausted and who had to stand by helplessly when seeing their children instead of going to school going into criminality. Illegal women cannot prove that they have paid taxes and rent in the Netherlands and that could cause great troubles for the women in the country of origin. But also the legal migrants who still reside in the Netherlands, who were tolerated in the eighties, have found a partner to stabilize their residence status and who in turn usually have divorced from him, are in a fix. These older migrants have paid off their debts to the ‘intermediaries’ for the trip and ‘papers’, but now make too little money to independently pay for accommodation. They hardly speak Dutch and never got or had taken the time to settle down in their new surroundings. Among these women are many Thai and South American women who live on the working place and who have no perspective.

Suzanne van de Steen interviewed 3 Latin American window-prostitutes (“Bijeen”, jaargang 35: nr 1, 2002, “Achter het wereldvenster van drie raamprostituees”). One interviewed (Colombian) woman (around 40) responded dismissive to the question what her status was and how and via who she came here. She told something interesting (translated from Dutch into English):
“This is just work for me. I don’t become hot or cold of it. One week I work in this city, the other week in another. This is all arranged by a Dutch woman from Enschede, who makes a sort of schedule and reserves windows for us. We pay her and the rent to the owner of the premises and then we have to see how many men we get in to keep something for ourselves.”

In the fifth final TAMPEP report September 2000/February 2002 you can read a lot about Latin American prostitutes in the Netherlands on the pages 273-282.
For more than twenty years, Latin American (LA) women have been coming do the Netherlands to work in prostitution. Among LA women, women from the Dominican Republic and Columbia still form the largest group followed by a smaller number from several Latin American countries, such as from Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador. (…)

As long as there exist a need for migrant women to look for work outside their country, the international trafficking networks will respond with open doors in Latin America. These networks become stronger and more professional all the time and continuously anticipate the changes in policies and adapt their working methods to the new reality.
The Latin American women, coming to Europe, have to pay the toll because of the restrictive policies. To facilitate their passage to Europe and for the arranging of their stay in one of the European cities they have to pay high prices and they have to stay dependent on third persons. At the national level, special ways are invented by networks and individuals that offer Latin American women the possibilities to enter into the visible or invisible labour market.
Also women, who used to work independently during the tolerance period without a ‘residence permit without restriction to work’, have become nowadays dependent on these networks and individuals. They have to pay much higher prices despite the fact that their perspectives to stay in the Netherlands will be much more difficult.
At the same time, autonomous networks of Latin American women currently residing in the Netherlands, (regardless of whether they still work in prostitution or not), have been developed and established. These networks provide initial housing for relatives, friends and acquaintances who want to come to the Netherlands. The same network now has to support the group of Latin American women that are not tolerated to work anymore but are still living in or coming to the Netherlands. (…)

There are different ways in which Latin American women get involved in the Dutch prostitution. They come to the Netherlands independently, via their families, through intermediates or via obscure closed trafficking networks. Even though, the majority of them know what kind of work is awaiting them, the working conditions and (im)possibilities are largely unknown to them. Depending on the network through which they entered the prostitution women end up in different situations.
In general, these women who enter prostitution via obscure closed networks start to work in various sex clubs in Europe. They cannot escape from the bondage of debts before intermediation costs are paid off. TAMPEP encountered some of these women in window prostitution after they had worked for some time in obscure sex clubs. Finally, after having paid off their (high) debts, and after having left the clubs, they were able to try to achieve their original goal, i.e. earn enough money for themselves and their families. After the introduction of the new legislation, this route towards independency (in the window prostitution) has been completely altered. Women who will come to the Netherlands via these networks will be doomed to keep on working in these invisible networks, because there is no place for them behind the windows.

"Achter het cliché — hulp en dienstverlening aan prostituees in Den Haag — werkmethodiek in ontwikkeling" [“Behind the cliché — aid and services to prostitutes in The Hague — working methology in development”] (1999, Ellie Teunissen [red.], SPP [Stichting Prostitutie Projecten Den Haag])
Page 31:

The Latin American women experience the Spanish speaking female aid worker as an authority. The women pass on quickly to each other who she is and she is being called in for all kinds of things. In arranging a funeral, collecting money for the journey home, negotiating with the proprietors, for hospitalization, in acquiring a residence permit. With this there’s a lot of cooperation with Spanish speaking general practitioners in the health centre. The Latin American prostitutes are sometimes approached in a group for information about juridical settlements or about the policy of the municipal government. They form a solidary group and they support each other, although there is also competition and internal conflicts which are fought out hard-handed. Also here there’s being mediated. Illegal residence is a big problem and makes the women vulnerable.

Thérèse van der Helm interviewed in the book 'I never thought this would happen to me - Prostitution and traffic in Latin American women in the Netherlands' by Fanny Polanía Molina and Marie-Louise Janssen (1998). Thérèse van der Helm works for the GG&GD, she work among migrant prostitutes, she informs them about health matters:
In the case of the South American women, there's an extensive traffic, organised by groups, this is contrary to the women from Eastern Europe. The Dominicans and Colombians know that when they come to Europe they won't be alone. The fact that there is a large Hispanic community in the Netherlands makes it easier for them to make their way to this country. The only obstacle many women face is that they do not know what types of documents are required. Somebody will therefore take charge of that, and this obviously costs money.

The police consider this to be a case of women trafficking. And of course it is! Then there is this friend or neighbour who knows about this business where you can make some money. In most cases the women aren't brought by force, neither are they forced to prostitute themselves. Though it also happens that their air tickets or passports are taken away and they are compelled to earn them back, that is also coercion.

As far as the Latin American women are concerned, the people involved in these matters are often people they are acquainted with. This considerably reduces the willingness of the victims to press charges of trafficking. The women ask themselves what they can do after having made accusations, because after this, they will find themselves without any job prospects, which obviously doesn't make things any easier.


It's a shame that so many foreign prostitutes, although they have been in this country for up to five years, do not speak more than a few words of Dutch. I do understand, however, that they can only dedicate themselves to earning money during their stay. Moreover, due to the existence of a Hispanic subculture in Amsterdam, they have never been urged to learn another language, and given the fact that a policy of tolerance has always prevailed in the Netherlands, there's never been the need for them to acquire a residence permit. These women remain a very isolated group. They have earned some money for their homes; they have looked after their families and for years they have been able to pay their children's school fees. Then they return, and have a small house built, as same kind of security for old age. But apart from that they haven't achieved anything in their lives.

This can be attributed to a number of factors, of course. But, despite the fact that the women are being pressured by the club owner, it still remains a shame that they should have spent so many years in this country with their only achievement being a small sum of money. And in many cases when they return to their countries they find themselves in a situation without any perspective, without any future. That's why often the desire to return isn't very strong. It's true, they say that they will go back as soon as they have saved sufficient money, that they want to learn English or take a literacy course, but quite often these plans will not be realised. The women themselves won't benefit from their efforts, for many of them these years are wasted years.

From "Migrant Prostitutes In The Netherlands" by Licia Brussa in "A Vindication of the Rights of Whores" edited by Gail Pheterson (1989), based on a pilot study on migrant prostitutes in Amsterdam in 1985:
page 232-233:
Among foreign prostitutes in the Netherlands, South American women constitute the largest group. The majority of these women work behind the windows and are therefore literally visible during working hours. They have a strong sense of comradeship and often go out as a group, for example when they go for medical examinations. Fifty to seventy percent have Dutch nationality.This may mean that a great number of them came to Holland by way of a marriage of-convenience. Those marriages were usually arranged in the Dutch Antilles with an Antillean man (i.e. a Dutch citizen). There are indications that the line between Aruba and Netherlands is maintained by a large organization with many agents. Some women arrive in Holland via other European countries or with a tourist visa.
Women are recruited from several South American countries, particularly the Dominican Republic but also so from Columbia and Chile. Occasionally marriages are arranged though the Dutch embassies in the native countries. One informant stated that the large organizations responsible for the trafficking of women have lines running not only to the Netherlands but also to other European countries and to the United States. Interviewed prostitutes recall cases of women having to sign debts for marriage and travel costs ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 Dutch guilders. The women did not reveal the identity of the benefactor. Often that person is not the pimp or boyfriend in Holland. The network within which the women are involved from the time of their departure to the time of their arrival in the Netherlands is unclear, as is the network of exploiters upon arrival.
There are also a number of women who have migrated on their own initiative. They are in fact illegal immigrants who came to theNetherlands because they knew relatives, friends or fellow villagers who had migrated before them. In some cases, the friends or relatives were themselves involved in prostitution and brought them here to work as babysitters or housekeepers. After some time, the women ended up in prostitution, an easy step given their illegal status, inability to get other work and connections in prostitution. When their host family ran out of money, they were obliged to work.
The last category of foreign prostitute is the political refugee. Many of these women lived under a dictatorial regime and managed, often under perilous conditions, to flee their country. Some of them escaped prison or fled circumstances of torture and intimidation. Once in Europe (usually they arrive in France), they are not able to obtain refugee status. Many of them arrive without legal papers and without resources to find the legal channels which could possibly help them plead their case. So, they begin wandering though Europe as illegal immigrants, sometimes without a valid passport, unable to return home. For many of them this wandering has been going on for over ten years. Prostitution is their only work possibility.
Looking at the hierarchy within prostitution, the majority of South American women are in the lowest rank. They cannot communicate with the client when they have complaints or want to negotiate about price because they do not speak Dutch. Many times they are victims of racist behavior from the clients. They are afraid to report cases of battering or intimidation to the police. Also among women residing legally there is great fear of the police. They may have Dutch nationality but often they do not have access to their passport which was confiscated by their "protector." Among political refugees, fear of the police is even more acute. Some women manage to free themselves from the organization that originally brought them to the Netherlands. They become independent, free to choose their working location and to move from one window to another. But most often South American women work in the cheapest part of the district, sharing small rooms with poor sanitary facilities.
The average age of South American prostitutes lies between twenty-five and thirty-five. The majority of them have children in their native country; some of them also have given birth to children in the Netherlands. They are not well-informed about contraception; for example, some women take penicillin as a contraceptive. The women come from the lowest class of the urban population in their own countries. Most of them send money home not only for their children but frequently to support their whole family. Apparently, the main factor motivating their entrance to prostitution was poverty and the hope of providing a better future for their children. However, they hide their life in prostitution from everybody at home since the disgrace would make it impossible to ever return. South American women in the Netherlands form a solid unit which is their only power and source of protection.

From 'TAMPEP - final report' (1994, edited by Licia Brussa)
Page 40-42:
Latin America

This section covers sex workers from the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil.
The Latin American sex workers are found in the areas of shop window prostitution, especially women from the Dominican Republic and Colombia.
In the clubs near the border with Germany we found Brazilian and Colombian women. TAMPEP has come across other clubs in the centre of the country where Colombian women predominated.
TAMPEP has contacted about 500 sex workers from Latin America in the course of the project.

How the women arrive
Through the testimonies of the sex workers TAMPEP has been able to establish how the women become involved in the networks of prostitution.
According to the Foundation Against Trafficking (S.T.V., Information and Services in Support of Third World Women to Stop Sexual Exploitation), 20 women from Latin America were found to be victims of trafficking between January and June 1994.
International networks exist which recruit women from Latin America, lending them the money for their air flight tickets, facilitating their stay in different European countries and introducing them to the world of prostitution.
The women who arrive in this way have to pay the money back more than they owe. They know what kind of work awaits them before they come to Europe, but they do not know what it will be like in practice.
The women who come of their own account and take their own risks have prior contacts, either friends or family members, who in one way or another are linked to the world of prostitution.
Women who marry a European, whether Dutch or resident in Holland, are often obliged to work in prostitution or to act as an agent to bring others.

The reasons they come
The various mechanisms by which the women enter the circuit of prostitution reflect to a greater or lesser extent the pressure of their precarious economic situation, and the lack of opportunity to find work in their country of origin and the country they migrate to.
The possibilities for profit from the sex business lead to the existence of organised international mafias which traffic with women, recruiting them and facilitating their dispersal across Europe.
The demand from European citizens who frequent the prostitution zones ensures that the business continues.

Who they are
Based on the interviews carried out by TAMPEP at the start of the project, we have been able to establish the following:
. Sex workers whose ages range between 19 and 46 have been encountered, with the largest group aged between 19 and 25.
. The largest number of sex workers has completed only primary education while a very small group have completed secondary sc
. Most of the sex workers come from lower class backgrounds with an extremely small group of middle c1ass origin.
. Most come from villages and intermediate sized towns.
. The workers have between 1 and 5 children.
. About 10 family members depend on the earnings that they send home.

The mobility of the workers varies according to their dependency on others, their experience in prostitution, and the amount of time they have been in Europe, as well as their legal status.
The sex workers who have arrived as a result of trafficking networks stay in Holland between 3 and 6 months.
There is a cycle of mobility in the zones where the shop windows operate which means that each worker stays some three months at a time. They may also spend a week or so in cities in the interior or in frontier areas, according to the season.
The illegal workers experience pressure to leave their work due to the fear of police sweeps.
The sex workers who are working legally stay in one place, which they have chosen, for periods of between 1 and 8 years, interspersed with short periods of absence in their home countries.

The characteristics of migration
The Latin American sex workers start in prostitution as soon as they arrive in Europe. In some cases they are trained in the various places in their native continent where they were first recruited.
The migration of women from the Dominican Republic, because of its scale and its history which dates back to the 1970s, has converted into a movement of chain migration.
The majority of the Dominican women who migrated to Europe and Holland at that time were victims of trafficking. According to their various circumstances a group of these women became the contact point to bring other women over.
Another group sold an image in their country of Europe as a society where it was possible to earn a fortune in a short time. This dream encouraged other women to migrate to Europe. In some cases they had no idea of the nature of the work, but in others they knew they were going to work in prostitution even though they did not know what form it would take.
At present there is a group of women from this first group which is still working; these women are aged between 40 and 60.
During its investigation TAMPEP has found that this long migratory process has evolved to create a second generation of sex workers.
The contradiction between the real position of the sex worker in Europe and the impression they must give as a woman within their own society -not least taking into account the religious element- leads to psychological problems.
The Latin American women, especially those from the Dominican Republic and Colombia, refuse to have contact with the sex workers from their own countries. They are afraid that the work they do in Europe will become known in their home countries, because many of them fear rejection by their families, especially as they project a triumphal image based on the money they send back to their families.
This situation is illustrated by a phrase taken from an interview: "Over here I'm a whore, over there I'm a lady".

TAMPEP - final report 1995-1996
page 19-20:

Shop window prostitution in Arnhem is concentrated in one neighbourhood. At this moment there are about 220 windows (2 establishments have been closed this year), which are never fully occupied and the occupation largely depends on the time of the year.
The majority of women are Latin American (sometimes over 50%), Dutch women also form a large group (about 40%), a minority is made up of African women (about 10%).
Police checks on legality of residence are still extremely tough, one does not stand a chance without valid documents. Police action against criminality in which for example, the dealing of drugs plays an important part has increased under pressure from neighbourhood residents. Even though the situation is relatively quiet, safety leaves much to be desired. An attempt to kill a German in April '96 led to the installation of an alarm system in only one establishment, all others work without an alarm system.
Hygienic conditions of the houses are bad, the presence of vermin is common. (...)


The majority of the Latin American women consists of Dominicans, followed by Columbians. As for other Latin American countries only a few individuals are found (Brazil, Uruguay).
The median age of the women is high (about 35-40) with ages ranging from 20 to 60.
Most of them have been in the Netherlands for over 2 years, some even for over 10 years. Their residence permit is mostly based on a (broken) marriage. (...)
The legality of residence enables the women to decide when they do not want to work, for instance, when there are fewer customers or when they are ill; after all these women do not sleep at their workplace in contrast to many illegal women. We also observe that the women can refuse customers, which enhances safety.
Because all the women in Arnhem are legal, they are confronted less with the tensions concerning their residence status and related matters. Only now can the women work independently, often after many years of dependence. The struggle against their imperious partners together with the threat of losing their permit of residence, is behind them.
page 24-25:

Of the three streets in which shop window prostitution in Den Haag is concentrated, two are occupied mainly by Latin American women, while in the third street there are none or only a few Latin American (L.A.) women. Of these three streets which are not situated far from each other, the Poeldijkstraat with about 500 working places, has the largest number of windows. About 80% of the women in this street are of LA origin,+/- 15% African and +/- 5% Dutch, East European and others.
The Doubletstraat has about 200 windows. The ratio between the nationalities is about the same as in the Poeldijk.
In both streets the occupation is rather stable, varying between 80% (January) till sometimes 100% (April).
The vast majority of the women do not have a residence pennit. Den Haag has a policy of tolerance: these women will not be persecuted unless there is a criminal cause. However, the women can never be certain of this policy, thus they work under permanent tension. An increase in criminality could mean a possible change in the police tolerance, even though the women are not to blame. (...)


Near the Doubletstraat a club is located, in which 30 Columbian women in the age group of 20 and 30 years work. They all come from the Valle de Cauca, a province of Colombia which is well known to the Dutch clubowner. One contact there arranges the selection, the woman receive a considerable amount of money ($ 4000) to arrange the journey.
According to the club owner the women are fully aware of their future working conditions in Holland. The women stay in the club for 3 months. Their earnings are shared.
The women hardly leave the club, a fear of the police is imposed by the clubowner, and they also do not know their way around outside the club.
The club has only Turkish and Moroccan customers. The women are not allowed to use a condom. The owner is of the opinion that the use of condoms does not contribute to the prevention of AIDS because AIDS is not transmissible by vaginal contact. To prevent Sexual Transmitted Diseases, STD, the women are told to rinse the vagina with vinegar and betadine.
Weekly, a club doctor who supports this STD prevention method, but is widely known for several other unofficial (medical) practices, check-up the women for STD.

Shop window prostitution
In the Poeldijk the majority of the Latin American are Columbians followed by Dominicans. Brazilian women, together with a few other nationalities, form a minority. In the Doubletstraat the reverse is seen, Dominican women dominate in number, followed by the Columbians. The principal reason why the women work here is to eam money to maintain their children and their relatives in their home countries.
Many come to Holland on their free will, often they have a relative who has already lived in Holland for some time. Others first arrive at a club, and then work in a shop window because of disappointing economic results.
Particularly Dominican women are lured to Holland with false expectations. They pay a great amount of money to those who let them come here under false pretences. Once confronted with the real situation, they are forced to continue the work, because of their debts to relatives. Although they do not work for a pimp, they find themselves in a very dependent situation. Especially at first they depend on others for every step they make. Because they are new, they do not know their way around, and to get information and help, they depend on people in the street who can easily abuse them.
The degree of dependency is thus determined by the way in which the women have come to Den Haag and the time of residence.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thai prostitutes


Okay, now the Thai prostitutes in the Netherlands. There wasn't much information about this group of prostitutes until in 2006 the Red Thread published its report "Rechten van prostituees .....". I already knew from the reviews on that there were many Thai parlours in the Netherlands, with many Thai prostitutes (also in the regular brothels), and that Thai prostitutes are on average quite old, and that the Foundation Against Trafficking in Women registers relatively few Thai women.

ABC of the Red Thread (translated from Dutch into English):
Many massage parlours have a name which refers to Thailand. Many of those can be found in Rotterdam for example. Incidentally we can visit those businesses with a Thai fieldworkers.
In these case we encounter many older Thai women who can barely speak Dutch. They are waiting in all sadness for clients who pay 20 euros at most. In some of the businesses in Rotterdam paid employment is enforced. That means that they have stand-by contracts where they are paid for only one hour – contrary to the legally established minimum of three hours. They are so entangled with their (Thai) female boss that they don’t dare to claim their rights because they desperately don’t want to get into more trouble.

The Red Thread on Thai prostitutes in the Netherlands, in the report “Rechten van prosituees .....” (October 2006 ,translated from Dutch into English)
page 86:
One of the most remarkable conclusions from our fieldwork is the striking growth of the number of Thai massage parlours in our country. (One sixth of the known sex businesses known to us is Thai. [According to the Red Thread there are app. 500 brothels in the Netherlands {~2005/2006}, not including the window brothels]) (…)
page 88:
In the middle of the eighties the Netherlands was confronted with a second wave of global women trafficking. The first was around the year 1900. That second wave got the attention through the rise of sex tourism, especially to Thailand. After the end of the war in Vietnam one sought a new destination for the rest and recreation facilities – read Red Light Districts – specially created for American servicemen in Thailand. There the first Thai women for the European sex industry were recruited. Already in 1976 the first Eastern ‘pamper princesses’ [verwenprinsessen] were put to work in Dutch sex-clubs. In some clubs the clients got them freely with a bottle of champagne, as if the women were a tray of cocktail snacks. They were the first generation of victims of human trafficking. (…)
During our business-visits we often encounter women who arrived in the Netherlands during that period. They tell us, that they had to pay back debts and that it has taken years to buy themselves free. Many of them have once been married to a Dutchman, by which they acquired a residence permit, but they also ended up in a divorce. After all, they could only get a residence permit through a marriage. (...)
page 89:
Human trafficking is sometimes mentioned. One female boss told that she found out that she was punishable when she wanted to bring over women to the Netherlands (356). The operator of another business (286) complained that he wasn’t allowed to bring over his Thai girlfriend to the Netherlands. For that reason he also couldn’t lend any money.
Some victims of human trafficking from Thailand, who came to the Netherlands in the eighties, play a role in this trade. They are rumoured to be tapping from family-contacts to get new women to the parlours. The women who come the Netherlands, were recruited with the argument that they were only supposed to massage and not that they were to have sex. In many of these businesses it is therefore denied that there are erotic services. One such owner said that he is not responsible if they do and the women who do that will be fired immediately (319).
page 90:
We have the impression that in the majority of the Thai massage parlours the women also live there. Almost everywhere we encounter them while cooking. They often answer the door in their pyjamas. (…)
Concerning accommodation, the Thai women depend on the operator or his wife, mostly a Thai woman. Herein there’s a remnant of patterns of patronage to be discovered also observed by several researchers in Thailand. It concerns an unequal relationship, where the boss offers services in exchange for political or other influences. This means in this case that being an employee also means obligations towards the boss in the private-sphere. This counts in the loyalty to the business, especially in difficult times, where the tax department observes paid employment. (…)
Not always the door was opened for the Red Thread, even when the women were present (296). And sometimes we were not welcome (259). After we repeatedly heard that “boss not here” we gave the Thai parlours no more priority when no Thai woman accompanied us (580, S 417, 188). In one business they didn’t stop with ‘boss not here’. The women ran off at full speed when we tried to give them some fliers (175). It occurs to us that we especially make the ‘boss not happy’ with our visit (…) (translated from Dutch into English)
a client (3 November 2006 & 3 December 2006)
Through the years I have, by building a relationship of trust with a number of Thai women, gained insight into how the Thai prostitutes have come to their ‘choice’ of going to work in the Netherlands. (…)

As is (probably) known, the group of Thai prostitutes in the Netherlands consists primarily of, according to Thai standards, somewhat older (28+) women from the North and the Northeast (Isan). (…)

Then to be physically able to work at all, soft drugs is used and/or medicaments abused. Easy to be sent from Thailand and free for sale without recipe. That often goes wrong because self-medication by unskilled people is asking for trouble. Don’t forget the alcohol abuse and smoking. All to be able to block off mentally the pain and stress of this existence. Pain and stress that is caused by loneliness, the conviction that the work is condemned by your faith, that your status in Thai society has been reduced to zero, mostly bad news from the home front about derailed daughters because of the lack of mama and/or sons who make nothing of their lives, parents or your husband who ask for even more money. And because you are forced by your home front and your culture, you publicly and at your work put your happy mask on and you behave like a ideal sexy and promiscuous exotic woman.

But when you get to know such a woman a little better as a friend; and ask her straight; if when she is alone she sometimes cries, if she is happy? Then you find out that the always laughing and cheerful woman is deeply unhappy. Usually the same answer that I got from multiple women to this question has radically changed my life… By the way, I sometimes think ‘ignorance is bliss’…


I also have to mention that I also managed to take a glance on the human trafficking trajectory. Those people make sure that the women come to the Netherlands for a lot of money (10-25.000 euros) where a Dutch ‘partner’ awaits them. Mostly a local loser c.q. drop out with a predatory attitude.

Also I have literally heard a number of women I know say independently of each other that when their ‘debt’ was not yet paid off it was expected from them that they should keep on working even during their period. Special tampons made this possible. (Those big pink nappy’s)

By the way, you can make a lot of money as a successful Thai prostitute. Especially without condom. (…)

It is certainly true that concerning the Thai women there is no physical violence during the debt period though there certainly is mental intimidation. Mostly by a mamasan who herself has lost it completely because of her involvement in the business. And there’s always the threat of a couple of (payment in kind) thugs who every now and then refer a difficult customer to the dentist. (…)

I also found a study of Thai women in massage parlours in the Netherlands, done by a Thai woman herself ("Thai Massage in the Netherlands - A study of a group of Thai migrant women" by Panitee Suksomboon, 2004). She interviewed 14 Thai masseuses who worked in 4 different parlours (Sunflower Thai Massage, Mai Thai Massage, North Thai massage and the [traditional] Phaen Boran) , among them also some traditional Thai masseuse (6 women), not prostitutes. She gives a somewhat more positive image of Thai prostitutes, the women interviewed often came here through chain migration and played a very active role, but some had to pay off debts. Many don't like the work.
page 11:

The data show that the ages of the interviewed Thai migrant women fall into the category of thirty-five to fifty-five. Only two women, Wong and Mon, are younger than thirty. Most of these Thai migrant women --ten out of fourteen -- came from the Northeast of Thailand and the rest of them are from Bangkok and Northern Thailand. Considering from a macro level, several scholars have explained that the Northeast of Thailand is the poorest of the four major regions of Thailand (Pasuk1982; Cook 1998; Jeffrey 2002).
page 84-85:
On the topic of women's migration I present four arguments. Firstly, some academic researchers have frequently considered that women are dependent and passive agents following the migrant men or left behind. Many of these Thai women, rather, moved to the Netherlands as initiating, independent migrants and left their families behind in Thailand. It should be stressed that the social networks providing migration generally involve women relatives and women friends. Pioneer migrant women play a key part in giving information, providing the migration opportunity or helping the migration process. This shows the specific role and active social actors of women who build the social networks in supporting international and chain migration.

Secondly, the migration of the interviewed Thai migrant women was a multi-step migration from a village in Thailand to Bangkok or other big cities and later to the Netherlands. As a consequence of their experience in internal migration, it makes these women's adaptation easier in international migration. I also argue transnational migration is not necessary being the last phase of the many steps of Thai women's migration. They still move back and forth within the European Union whereas others expect to move back to Thailand in the future.

Thirdly, the lives and experiences in international migration of these Thai women challenge the anti-trafficking discourse which viewed women as naïve, passive and forced/lured to migrate. The Thai migrant women in contrast intended to migrate, knew what their work would be and adapted themselves to the new society. Making a decision to work in Thai massage parlors demonstrates these women's adaptation and role as an active agent. They evaluate themselves that because of their limitations of low-working skills, low education and lack of proficiency in English or Dutch, the working in a Thai massage parlor offers them a certain degree of autonomy and independence. They can earn their own (large sum of) money which they are unlikely to experience in other forms of employment. One should not generalize that all Thai women migrating overseas face hardship and finally end up as victim of trafficking.

Fourthly, international migration is not only involved with geographical movements of people from the sending country to the receiving country. It is significantly related to the social and cultural reconstruction, interpretation and negotiation of gender and sexuality of both sending and receiving countries. On the one hand, the bodies of these women are related to Thainess, Thai gender and sexuality. Owing to a discourse of Thailand as a place for westerners to search for sexual service and prostitution, some clients have such stereotypes that they think they can have sex with all Thai migrant women in massage parlors in the Netherlands and look down upon them if they refuse their request. These women negotiate with these customers that they should not apply this label to every Thai woman and that there are many beautiful and attractive places in Thailand. On the other hand, Dutch culture and 'Western' gender and sexuality are also reconstructed by these Thai women to negotiate with their farang [Western] husband on the issues of working in Thai massage parlors. Their farang husband does not give them money is defied as the irresponsibility, so they have to work in Thai massage parlors. Some assume that their farang [Western] husband is openminded and can tolerate their work in erotic massage parlors.
page 85:
Thai migrant women have to work many hours per day, 12 hours and they have a day-off only on Sundays. The income of masseuses bases on the agreement with the parlors' owners, the type of the massage, and the number of clients they get. Having a prior experience with work in a massage parlor is not a sufficient factor to explain why these Thai migrant women choose to work in massage parlors in the Netherlands, especially in the case of the erotic ones. Economic incentives, influence of social networks, the popularity of erotic massage and extra income from offering sexual service are other important factors why these Thai migrant women choose and keep working in erotic massage parlors.
page 59:
Wong explained her feeling when she started working: "Before I did it, I thought a lot. I cried and thought of my son and my mom. If they knew what my work here was, how would they feel? Maybe, they would think that I am not a good daughter and mother." I also asked Mon what she thought about her job. "Don't ask me how I feel when I have to take off my clothes while I give massages to clients. If you were me and you had to be naked in front of a male stranger, what would you feel? Would you feel ashamed? I feel the same.", Mon replied.
page 49:
The work rules and the kind(s) of services the masseuses have to give are also established by the owners. The women who would like to work in the parlors have to agree with these rules. The strictness of the rules depends on the relationship between the owners and employees as well as the size of the establishment. If a parlor has many masseuses working there and the relationship between the owner and employees is formal, the working-rules are stricter than in the parlors with fewer masseuses.
page 71:
Interesting enough, both traditional and erotic masseuses also consider the client's touching their body as an act of sexual harassment. Although the women in erotic massage parlors take off their clothes, give body to body massage or hand jobs, they feel uneasy if the client always keeps touching their bodies, especially their private parts.
page 71:
"Before I take off all of my clothes some clients already touch my body. Some clients stare at me when I am naked. I was shy, especially with the young and handsome farang [she means Western] clients. Very often some old or crazy customers always touched my breasts and hips. If I faced this situation again, I thought I was unlucky. Sometimes I was very angry, but I had to be patient and try to control my emotion. If I exposed my anger to the clients, it would damage the reputation of the parlor".
page 75:
Some masseuses tried to enjoy their work telling themselves that it is their job, similar to people of other professions, and that they also have a responsibility to do their job. Wong explained how she felt about her job: "I am sometimes ashamed to take off my clothes, but I think, it is my work. Whenever I meet nice and polite clients, I feel that I enjoy my work". Mali is another example: "When I took off my clothes the first time, I was shy. Sometimes I have to give showers to the clients. I don't like it. Anyhow, this is my work".
page 79:
Son has nearly finished paying her debt of 6,520 EURO to an agency and a bank after one and a half years.

More on Thai prostitutes in the report "Illegaliteit, onvrijwilligheid en minderjarigheid in de prostitutie een jaar na de opheffing van het bordeelverbod" (by Drs. Marjolein Goderie, Dr. Frans Spierings and Drs. Sandra ter Woerds, Juli 2002, Verwey-Jonker Instituut/WODC, ministry of Justice, also see this post, translated from Dutch into English):
Massage parlour in Rotterdam
We spoke with a (female) manager of a Thai massage parlour and with two women who worked there.
It is a licensed business, where social workers and police step visit regularly. All women work there legally. They have a residence permit, usually via a marriage with a Dutchman. The owner tells that she gets her personnel indirectly. It is a Thai circuit, she explains, indirectly you get your personnel and indirectly you’ll hear you can work somewhere. It is difficult for Thai women to find a job. Some women don’t speak Dutch and that decreases their chances for a job. They often have family in Thailand who need money. Therefore some women ‘choose’ to work in an erotic massage parlour, so says the manager. At this moment three women aged 29, 33 and 43 work in the parlour. Also on the same day there’s a woman who comes to inform about work.
In the past the women not always had the right documents, but since the new law the manager doesn’t take risk anymore. She only works with persons who are legal. That sometimes results in having too few personnel. This happens more often now. Then she has to send away clients.
She has asked for help with applying for the license and believes the amendment of the law is difficult. She has to know everything, keep updated, renovate (interior of the building). She told the prostitutes that from now on, they get half of what the clients pays. The women pay the VAT themselves and they rent a room at her place. When she tells how things are working in her business, it turns out that it is not only massage, but the same activities as for instance in a club.

The two women we spoke with, worked on their own free will, so they said. But they did it to make money and to send it home. Because of their lack of Dutch they shouldn’t be able to do other work.
One of them has been in the Netherlands for four years now. She is married to a Dutchman she met in Thailand. Previously she had worked in a factory and in a hotel. When she became ill she stopped doing that work. She became a housewife for a while, but she became bored and also needed money for her family in Thailand.
The other one has also been in the Netherlands for four years. She came to the Netherlands to visit family members. Then she met somebody in a discotheque, whom she is now married to. At first she worked as a cleaning woman, but she didn’t make enough money from that to support her family in Thailand. By working in the massage parlour she earns more. She doesn’t like the work. Her husband doesn’t like it too that she does this work, she says, but he cannot support her whole family. If she could earn just a little bit more, she could go back to Thailand. She is saving money for that now. There never are problems, she tells. Sometimes she is mentally burdened by the work. She then talks with colleagues, but about some things she cannot talk with them. She feels uncomfortable about how she is forgetting the Thai language. She sketches a situation which gives us the impression of disattachment. Sometimes she doubts she has to stay, or if she should go back to her family, who by no means are supposed to know she’s doing this work.

"VOGELVRIJ - Prostitutietoerisme en vrouwenhandel" (1984) ["Outlawed - prostitution tourism and women trafficking"] by Els Bransen, Liet Gaikhorst en Gery de Wolf. (translated from Dutch)
page 64:
On the basis of information we collected about Thai clubs in Amsterdam we can state that there are women (for instance Thai women) being recruited for work in the sex industry in the West. The women involved are more or less familiar with the content of the work.

From "Migrant Prostitutes In The Netherlands" by Licia Brussa in "A Vindication of the Rights of Whores" edited by Gail Pheterson (1989), based on a pilot study on migrant prostitutes in Amsterdam in 1985:
page 234-236:
The second largest group of foreign prostitutes is formed by women from Southeast Asia, particularly women from Thailand. There is a smaller group from the Philippines and some women with another nationality (Malayan, Indonesian, Taiwanese). About ten years ago Southeast Asian women began to arrive. Philippine go-go dancers and combo-bands began to arrive about eight years ago. During the last few years especially the number of Thai women has increased.
Southeast Asian women are in less visible sectors of the sex industry than South American women and are therefore more difficult to reach. They work in bars and private clubs and they circulate from one club to another and from one town to another all over Europe. They therefore have no contact with social workers and field workers as do some of their more visible colleagues. A large number of them are illegal.
Speaking of Thai women, the trafficking center is West Germany because Germany does not require a visa for travellers from Asia. Once in Germany, it is not difficult to travel to other European countries. The recruitment of Thai women, their journey to Europe and their transference to a certain club is arranged by agents working in trafficking organizations. The German traffickers are organized on a far larger scale than the Dutch. Frequently women are sold from one club owner to another and are forced to circulate between clubs. Some recruiting goes through intermediary agencies under covers like "artist bureau" or "employment bureau."
The women who become Dutch citizens through marriage usually come to Holland directly. The Dutch marriage partner may be found in Thailand among drug addicts, tourists or Dutch people living in Thailand. The marriage is arranged by an agent upon whom the woman remains dependent. Sometimes one Dutch man accompanies several women to Holland; the women receive a tourist visa by showing adequate money and a return ticket. Another circuit recruits mostly Philippine women into the entertainment industry and nightclubs. Regular agents contract the women, mostly under false pretenses, for six months or a year. According to several respondents, all of the above women are forced into prostitution. Resistance is impossible. After three or six months their contract expires but their visa is then invalid; they become illegal and without housing or income.
There is also a small group of Southeast Asian women in prostitution who came to Europe independently through friends, acquaintances,or relatives residing here illegally. And finally, there is a group of women who came to Amsterdam after fleeing brothels in West Germany, Switzerland, Belgium or France. They have the idea that Holland is a better place to live and work than other European countries, and certainly better than Germany. Thai women in particular said that many women who want to leave Thailand to work (whether or not as a prostitute) would like to come to Holland. This makes things a lot easier for the trafficking agents.
Southeast Asian women work in several different branches of prostitution, such as sex clubs, bars, brothels, peep shows, live-show sex theaters and escort services. Only a small number of them work as window prostitutes. In some clubs the women earn ten to twenty percent of profits on drinks and thirty to fifty percent on sex. In businesses where the women dance or act, they get a steady income of three to five hundred guilders per week. Some of their income goes to the club owner for room and board. The women's earnings contrast bitterly with those of the bar or club owner. In some clubs clients pay a fixed fee of two to three hundred guilders. This entitles them to drinks, women and entertainment. Working hours and sanitary conditions vary from club to club. Some women work and live in small compartments. Usually the women work from eleven in the morning to late into the night and often they still have to clean their room and the club afterwards. Exploitation by club owners is common. One respondent told me about small clubs and private houses where Thai women earned only three or four hundred guilders per month; sometimes the wages were not even paid to the women themselves but were sent straight to their families or bank accounts in Thailand. This is a way of keeping them dependent. Some club owners try to convince the women that they are controlled "for their own good"; they forbid them to go out as "protection" from the police and from the dangerous outside world. So the women live essentially in a prison with no outside contacts except the clients.
In Thailand, women are recruited for prostitution in the large cities or country towns, not in the countryside. Mostly the women's motives for coming to the Netherlands are economic; many of them have children, many are saving to buy land for the family, some want to support the education or business venture of a brother or sister. The duty of the oldest sister to support the whole family is an important element of Thai culture. If there is not enough to eat in the family, the oldest daughter will go to town to find a job. Untrained girls find work in the growing tourist industry, often strongly connected to sex businesses. They work in hotels as waitresses, hairdressers, masseuses, dancers and possibly as call girls. Not all Thai women in Holland were working in this circuit back in their own country; some educated women had other jobs. But, European agents seem to recruit especially women within the (sex) tourist sector.
The average age of the women is between eighteen and twentyfive. Some cases have been reported of girls under age but not of child prostitution, something the Thai government has been fighting against for a number of years. In general Thai prostitutes speak little English or Dutch. They are very isolated due to this language barrier, their hidden position in the sex industry and often their illegality. Day and night, they know only the life in the clubs. Unlike the South Americans, they do not operate in groups; social contacts are usually restricted to a few girlfriends. Those few women who have some freedom meet in the new Thai temple in Amsterdam and in the few Thai restaurants. The Thai temple is one of the only outside places tolerated by club owners. Several informants told about the extreme physical and emotional stress under which the women live. They suffer from exhaustion, depression, isolation, separation from their families, racism and constraints within their work. Women who were prostitutes in Thailand experienced nothing like the circumstances in the Netherlands; at home they were working free-lance and could return to their families on weekends. Prostitution is stigmatized in Thailand but as long as daughters support their families and keep good relations, their work is tolerated. The experience in Holland isolates them from their families and produces shame, thereby making them even more dependent on club owners and traffickers.