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.


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