Saturday, February 25, 2006

Interesting report

Back to index

Hey, I have found a new report [in Dutch] and I am happy to have found this, although it’s outdated. I’m happy because this report gives me some answers to some important questions. It has always struck me for instance that so many Eastern European prostitutes come from Poland and the Czech Republic while if you look on the lists of nationalities of the Foundation against Trafficking Women you see only a few Polish and Czech girls. It therefore concluded that Polish and Czech prostitutes are rarely trafficked. Well, this report reveals that based on eyewitness reports, also many Polish and Czech women are trafficked. This reports also says that probably nearly all African prostitutes in the Netherlands are trafficked (like Tom Marfo says).

I also find this report so interesting because it actually depicts how many prostitutes actually feel about their occupation.

Oh, by the way, this is one of those reports where Bovenkerk(a.o.) referred to. He saw this report together with another report as evidence that pimping and human trafficking rarely occurs in sex-clubs and in the escort. I hope he is right, because as a matter of fact the police do actually find many victims of human trafficking in clubs, the number is comparable to those found in window-prostitution while 2 to 3 times as many prostitutes work in clubs compared to window-prostitution.

Gosh, this report is sooooo interesting. Too bad, I’m also lazy. But what’s interesting in this report is that brothel managers are complaining they can’t find girls for their brothels, especially Dutch women!!!! Even the researchers encountered view Dutch women in clubs during their fieldwork. Well, that’s funny, cause I’ve analyzed in which clients describe their experiences with prostitutes. Very often the women tell them where they come from. It turns out that many prostitutes in the clubs and ‘privé-huizen’ are Dutch!!!![app 50 percent] The prostitutes described on look very different from the grim picture of prostitutes described in this report!! This is still a mystery to me.
Here are some excerpts of this report.

Original document

Illegality, involuntariness, minority in prostitution one year after the ban on brothels has been lifted.

(in Dutch:'Illegaliteit, onvrijwilligheid en minderjarigheid in de prostitutie een jaar na de opheffing van het bordeelverbod')

Drs. [~M.A] Marjolein Goderie
Dr. [~Ph. D] Frans Spierings
Drs. Sandra ter Woerds

Juli 2002
Verwey-Jonker Instituut/WODC, ministry of Justice
Utrecht / The Hague


2.2 Groningen
[about prostitution in Groningen]


Women without a MVV [‘Machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf’=authorization to acquire temporary residence] are not allowed to work in prostitution. After settlement in the Netherland, a MVV acquired in a foreign country will be transformed into a residence permit. To women who want to work in prostitution no MVV’s are issued. It is possible for women from association-countries [like, at this moment: Bulgaria and Rumania] who want to work as independent contractors when all requirements are fulfilled. This is not the case for anyone who works under a labour relationship [that means, that there is a employer-employee relationship between a prostitute and a manager]. Also those who have a an application for residence running are not allowed to work during that period.

How the prostitutes deal with these possibilities can be illustrated using the stories of six window-prostitutes. One of the respondents, a 23-year-old prostitute from former Yugoslavia who has resided in the Netherlands for five years, doesn’t work temporarily, because she’s waiting for a residence permit. She has signed up at the Kamer van Koophandel [Chamber of Commerce] and want to work as an independent contractor. She chooses the safe path and doesn’t work temporarily while she awaits the VTV-procedure [“Vergunning Tot Verblijf” = residence permit]. Therefore she has lived for three years with somebody who has a Dutch residence permit so she could work legally. The chance her request is granted will be large, she estimates herself.

Another respondent is 21 years old and originates from Russia. She came to the Netherlands with a visa for three months, a tourist visa. After arrival she went to the police and she was given a stamp on her passport and it allowed her to work, she told. She is part of a group of women under the VTV-procedure, but with little chance of actual residence in the Netherlands based on this procedure. She tells that she has paid via a [window-]landlord for a lawyer who in her name has instituted a procedure to acquire a residence permit. Meanwhile she is between four and five months in the Netherlands which means her visa has expired.

Furthermore we spoke with two Bulgarian girls, both 21 years old who travelled back and forth between Bulgaria and the Netherlands, and who extend their visa in the meantime. In the Netherlands they go to the police and get a stamp in their passport. Then they go to a lawyer. Then you have ‘some kind of case’[in English], one of them tells. They are convinced that with ‘these papers’ (they mean a note from their lawyer) in their pockets they can work, that is they will not be expelled by the police.

The stories of these three girls are very similar. Furthermore we got the impression that at the beginning of the interview they told a story as if they had been instructed in advance. A sort of list with standard-information they are considered to give when somebody asks them something. They strikingly have the same age and all three tell about their plans in the Netherlands. Two of them would like to study. They’d heard that in Groningen there was a good university and name this as a reason for coming to Groningen. One of them has a prospectus lying under her stool which she brings out immediately at the introduction of the cause of our conversation. The other would like to learn something with computers and then find a job.

We also spoke with two Bulgarian prostitutes, of 19 and 25 years old, who recently stepped to the police, because they didn’t want to work for their pimps anymore. They were unsatisfied because they had to hand over too much money and the pimps made too much demands concerning the number of hours to work and not being allowed to sit on a stool. They were also beaten by their pimp. In the end they didn’t want to report the crime because of fear of reprisals. They are convinced that when the police will take steps there will be taken revenge against their child and family in Bulgaria. Nevertheless they now work behind the windows to support themselves, with the knowledge of the police.

In window-prostitution in Groningen work a lot of women from Eastern Europe: the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary and Russia. The most common procedure for them is as followed: They come here with a visa for a couple of months, mostly a visa for three months, report to the police and call in a lawyer. Then they are in a procedure to acquire a VTV and then can work behind one of the windows. Or rather, the procedure offers them protection against deportation and in the meantime they work. Since July 15, 2001 one can only rent to EU-subjects. That led early 2002 to the closure of a large number of premises where window-prostitution took place and the disappearance of a large part of the non-European women behind the windows.

Aside from the group of Eastern European women there also work women from the EU, Germany for example, and also from South America and Africa. The impression by the informants is that women from the last two mentioned continents [South America and Africa] have a residence permit at their disposal via partners, whether or not via marriages of convenience or affairs of convenience. A Croatian woman said with respect to that: “That love-situation is obviously a fake-situation. Obviously everybody knows.” The South American women have a tight-knit network and have been in the Netherlands for a longer period. They help each other, take care of each other and it seems that for them illegality does occur rarely.

The group of Bulgarians in Groningen seems a reasonably stable factor. During a period of a couple of years the group is present within window-prostitution in Groningen. According to one of the interviewees 75 percent of the girls behind the windows came from Bulgaria during the interview in November 2001. They mean the group of Bulgarian prostitutes, often in the presence of Bulgarian men. They largely originate from the same village or region in Bulgaria. They are often associated with ‘problems’ in which one refers to groups of Bulgarians who engage in human trafficking, people smuggling and other types of criminality. The presence of these men on street is perceived as threatening. In the assessment of the interviewees there are mostly young girls concerned who are controlled by ‘pimps’ or ‘errand-boys’.

Working with a pimp is associated with working under strain. An indication for that is that many Bulgarian girls are not allowed to sit on a chair when they are at work. Their pimp tells them to dance to attract clients. Also many have the impression that girls who work for pimps work long days. Another indication is that they don’t want to borrow mobile phones to others. The only person with whom it is allowed to call, is the pimp. Bulgarian girls are instructed not to have too much contact with the other women. A Russian woman tells that a Bulgarian woman next door is far less eager to offer help when necessary. The Bulgarian women isolate themselves from the other women. The women also indicate that pimps use violence against the women. The pimps i.e. errand-boys often already know the girls from the country of origin. There are connections between pimps and the place where the girls come from. The pimps explain how to work, what to do, how long etc. First they promise that the profits from prostitution will be largely for the girls themselves, but in reality they don’t live up to expectations. The researchers noticed that, during street-walks, there was a man walking around who dropped in on the windows and collected money with a notebook in his hand. A number of interviewees suspect that pimps are concerned here, but then in the form of errand-boys behind which there’s an organisation of some large criminals. There is talk of Yugoslav and Bulgarian criminal networks. The nature of pimping is changing, say multiple respondents. This is really something which has changed during the past year. With foreign women there is a chain of traffickers. One prostitute: “The real pimp is far away. Outside of the Netherlands. The police can’t catch him.”

When we ask the prostitutes if they sometimes have to deal with annoying, aggressive clients they tell that on street there are certain men walking around, who help the women in certain cases. They are nice men who also pay taxes, they tell us reassuring.

The interviewed women all indicate that the work is their own choice. They work for the money with which they can do things at home in Russia, Bulgaria or elsewhere. Sometimes they have plans to study or work in the Netherlands. Already in the country of origin, through friends or acquaintances they have heard about this possibility in Groningen. These acquaintances have been in a foreign country and came back with beautiful stuff and it was clear that they made good money. For many women it seems that they entered into some kind of ‘deal’. They want to travel, want to leave the country where they live and where they make little money. Their behaviour seems to be led by opportunism.

There are windows for rent for more than 400 euros a week. Also there were talks of prices for 250 guilders [???, app 100 euros, but they probably mean 250 euros] a day. Taking into account that the women charge 60 euros per half hour, they’ll need a considerable number of clients to generate the earnings just to pay they rent.

There are indications that children are at work in window-prostitution in Groningen. Multiple respondents tell they have the suspicion that they are girls younger than 18. An aid-worker encountered a girl who she estimated to be 16 years old. It cannot be proven that they are minor. It remains a suspicion. The documents tell otherwise and also the girls themselves say they are of age. Aside from that, we also established that there are many young looking girls working there, especially in the Muurstraat and the Hoekstraat. Some we estimate to be around 18 years, others look much younger (no older than 15, 16 years).


Tippelzone in Groningen
[Tippelzone=tolerance zone for streetprostitutes]
We spoke three women, all three Dutch of whom one was of foreign descent. Furthermore the GGD [sort of public health service], the coordinator of the ‘living room’-project and the police show us some insights in the situation on the Bornholmstraat. Many Dutch women work on the zone. The GGD estimates the percentage of drug addicts to be 96 percent. According to the coordinator of the ‘living room’-project there worked from the beginning on a very small group of foreign women of varying origins on the tippelzone, but it concerns no more than ten women. Since the lifting of the ban on brothels this hasn’t changed.

One of the women is annoyed by the Polish women or women from another Eastern European country, who appear on the zone since two years. The women aren’t addicted, but have a pimp and often are younger than 18 years according to her. They keep their distance from the rest on the zone and regularly call to their pimp [by mobile phone]. The presence of these women goes in waves. The female ‘living room’-workers tell about a small group of Bulgarian women who were here a while ago, of whom one still worked during our research. We didn’t get the chance to talk to her. We encountered a Russian woman on the tippelzone whom we have spoken for a short while. Unfortunately she didn’t turn up for an appointment for a talk.

2.3 Rotterdam

Tippelzone in Rotterdam
On the Keileweg we have interviewed 22 women. They had the following nationalities: Ecuadorian (2), Peruvian (1), Rumanian (2), Dutch (11, of whom one was of Moroccan descent and three Surinamese), British (1), Montenegrin (1), Belgian (1), German (1). They are all older than 18 years, varying from just having become 18 on the tippelzone to 42 years. Six of the interviewees are transsexual or work a as transvestite.

For the EU-subjects the residence permit is not a problem. They are allowed to work in prostitution. One of the Rumanians has a visa at her disposal, but she’s not allowed to work in the Netherlands. The other Rumanian is in an asylum-procedure. She is also not allowed to work in prostitution. The Ecuadorian, a transsexual, has been expelled multiple times. She is in a procedure for a residence permit via a lawyer. This way she assumes herself that a successful appeal can be made on her homosexuality/transsexuality. The other Ecuadorean doesn’t have a residence permit. The Peruvian says she is legal in the Netherlands, because she lives together with a friend with Dutch citizenship. The Montenegrin doesn’t have a residence permit and therefore no work permit.

Many of the women tell stories about the condition that they started working via a boyfriend. These are mainly the Dutch women. None of the interviewees say they now work for somebody. They work ‘for themselves’. It is certainly ‘not done’ to have a pimp. One is looking down on that. “And those who work for a boyfriend, mostly do that of their own free will”, according to a Dutch woman.

The transsexuals work in prostitution to make money for themselves, sometimes also to pay for a sex-operation or simply to make a living. They see the work on the zone as the only way to make money as an illegal alien in the Netherlands. One of the Ecuadorians only dressed as a transvestite, because that’s the only way to make money. Previously he worked in bars in Amsterdam. After the license-system was introduced in Amsterdam he couldn’t go to work in official bars, because the risk of being caught became too large. He then worked for a short period as a transvestite behind the window of a girlfriend in Amsterdam, but that caused a risk for the girlfriend who worked fully legal. He now works in Rotterdam, because that’s almost the only place for him to make money, so he tells.

From time to time, depending on the intensity of police-controls, buses with Polish and other Eastern European women are dropped on the zone. Those women are sharply monitored by certain persons. They rarely come in the ‘living-room’. From stories of a number of respondents it can be deducted that for these Eastern European women there are signals of human trafficking. One of the male prostitutes tells that Eastern European are monitored by men at the entrance of the tippelzone. Recently he had spoken with a Rumanian woman who ran into the ‘living-room’ completely shaken, and who wanted to leave her pimp, because she was beaten by him.

During the past year there was aside from the increase in the number of South American transvestites and transsexuals also an increase in the number of women from Western Africa on the tippelzone. This was reported by aid workers as well as prostitutes. Also here you can speak of presence in waves. Aid workers suspect that they don’t work completely independent, but are under pressure to pay off debts to human traffickers.

A couple of addicted women who have worked in street-prostitution for a long time, find it striking that during the past year more younger women work on the tippelzone. On the question who they are, they say the women are not personally familiar. They are mostly from Dutch and Antillean descent. They estimate their age to be around nineteen, twenty years. They come from other cities.

The prostitutes on the tippelzone in Rotterdam believe the violence by clients has increased the past years. On the one hand they blame this on the increased crowdedness on the zone (from prostitutes as well as clients) and on the other hand the changing interaction between client and prostitute. Some believe that during the past year another type of client has appeared; according to others more women work without condom which causes others to lose clientele and are put under pressure to do the same.

Privé-huis in Rotterdam[A ‘privé-huis’, literally ‘private house’ is a sex-club without a bar]
A privé-huis in the world of prostitution is not a private house, but a prostitution business. In the privé-huis we visited worked only Hungarian women. The manager was – unjustly - convinced that he had legal working ladies in his company, because Hungary wasn’t a country with visa requirement and the women were allowed to stay here for three months. After this, they return to Hungary and come back if they want to and when they want to. He didn’t understand our surprise: the police is a regular visitor and check the place. This manager doesn’t seem to realise that he is working with illegal women. At the moment we were there, around seven prostitutes were present. The atmosphere between the manager and the employees was pleasant. With two of the prostitutes we spoke extensively, because they were the only ones who could speak English.

The case of Flora
Flora is a Hungarian. She tells she is 21 years old, but looks younger. At the time of the interview, she has worked for ten days in the Netherlands. Before she came to the Netherlands, she worked in Italy in a discotheque as a topless dancer. The work in Italy was very restless, then one month here, then one month their. She also had to repeatedly leave the country in between, back to Hungary. Moving back and forth all the time costs a lot of money. Together with a girlfriend who had worked here already, she came to the Netherlands.

Before she came working in Italy, she has worked for two weeks in Berlin. There she had to work without a condom. Too dangerous, she believed. Then she worked in Spain for a while. But there were so many prostitutes she made little money.

On the question how she knew where to find work, she tells about her impresario. Then he helped her find work in Italy. Therefore she had to pay him a week-salary. She finds that very normal. He keeps up all the data, she says, he lets her know when there’s money again. She doesn’t pay him anymore now.

She works to make money for her family, for her own livelihood and she tries to save money for the future. In Hungary there’s insufficient employment. The prices are comparable to those in the Netherlands according to her, except those of houses and public utilities. And that while the middleclass make 600 guilders [or do they mean euros?] per month.

She has many concerns about her work. Must she actually do this work? What kind of work should she do else? Although her boss is nice and good for her – she means the manager of the privé-huis – she wonders if it is really necessary to do this work. She tells her mother and friends that she dances and works in a restaurant. She finds the work mentally difficult. Sometimes she has to cry because of this. She thinks about Hawaii during her works, laughs satisfactorily towards a client and thinks about the sun and the waves.

Both Hungarian women originally ended up in prostitution in Italy via a human trafficker. They call this an impresario. The impresario of the other Hungarian first brought her to Mexico, where she was forced to work for six weeks while being locked in a basement. Nowadays both women work without a pimp.

The manager keeps out pimps who step by with girls. This happens multiple times a week. He has had some nasty experiences with this in the past. Brothel-owners, so he says, want peace and quietness in the place and therefore don’t want to do business with pimps. We came unannounced and we as researches, a man an woman together, were put through a solid examination before we were allowed to sit in the kitchen to talk. It turned out that this was to determine if there was a situation of a pimp who wanted to present his girl.

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

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


Back to index

No comments: