Saturday, March 25, 2006

Legal and illegal brothels

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I’m busy at this moment to create a list of brothels in the Netherlands. There are app. 750 licensed brothels in the Netherlands. Those licenses are dealt with on a municipality level. The funny thing is that information about which brothel is licensed and which brothel is not licensed is scattered throughout the Netherlands. Even the VER (Vereniging Exploitanten Relaxbedrijven), an association for Dutch brothel owners, have difficulties creating such a list, because the municipalities are not very open about which brothels have a license.

That’s funny because this way, the Johns too can’t impossible know if the brothel has a license. In a country where prostitution is legal it should be the case that the legal brothels are free of abuses and that the clients are sure that when he visits a particular brothel things are okay.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Still Alive

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I’m still alive, but I have actually nothing more to say.

I’m busy researching prostitutes in Belgian using a forum where clients describe their experiences with prostitutes (hookers.nl). A lot of Albanian and Bulgarian women work in prostitution in Belgium, contrary to the Netherlands. That’s really a surprise to me. Anyway, the clients notice that a lot of Albanian prostitutes lie about their nationality. Instead of saying they are from Albania, many they say they are from Italy. And that raises doubts about the validity of my research. Do the prostitutes speak the truth when they name their age and nationality?

Fact of the matter is that I counted a considerable number of Italian, Greek, Spanish and Portuguese prostitutes in the Netherlands. (OOPS!!!)

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

The solution

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I’ve found a solution to a problem in my previous post.

In the next article which I discussed in that post it is said that 47% of the Amsterdam based prostitutes is Eastern European and that 26% is African:

Threat to switch off city's red lights

Yet beyond the legalised sector are less well-regulated areas. One problem is European Union labour laws which do not permit non-EU citizens to work. The result is that Eastern European and African women, who make up 47 per cent and 26 per cent respectively of Amsterdam-based prostitutes according to recent government figures, are vulnerable to violent abuse, blackmail and extortion.

I found out that the author of this article has made a tremendous error. He has lifted these numbers from the fourth report of the national rapporteur on human trafficking in the Netherlands. Those numbers refer to victims of human trafficking in the Netherlands, and NOT to prostitutes in Amsterdam in general. That means that app 47% of the VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN THE NETHERLANDS are Eastern European and 26% is African. In reality the real figures are more like 15-20% Eastern European and 2-3% African for the total number of prostitutes in the Netherlands (but yet, even this is only just a hunch) .

It seems that many people have troubles interpreting statistics (including me).

You can read that report here:
Trafficking in Human Beings, Supplementary figures, Fourth report of the Dutch National Rapporteur

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Threat to switch off city's red lights

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Interesting discussion about human trafficking and de Wallen in this article:

Threat to switch off city's red lights

Lodewijk Asscher has indicated that de Wallen in Amsterdam should be closed down over time, because of the human trafficking associated with this RLD. Also Anneke Bouman seems to agree:

Anneke Bouman, who helps run a counselling and assistance service for trafficked women, said the idea that the red-light district was an integral part of Amsterdam's tolerant image was 'completely wrong. Many women are very afraid and very anxious.'
Bouman's organisation, HVO-Querido, provides a safe house for prostitutes fleeing violent pimps. According to police sources, various gangs control much of the sex trade in Amsterdam, including Turkish and German groups. Many girls are subjected to serious assaults, several have been killed, others have had the names of their 'owners' tattooed on their skin.


But Ruth Hopkins disagrees:

'The police priorities are elsewhere,' said Ruth Hopkins, a researcher based in Holland who has published a book on human trafficking in Europe. 'It makes no sense to shut down the red-light district. They are looking at the symptoms, not the cause. Dutch politics, from left wing to right wing, is all about what looks good on the outside, not about an in-depth approach.'

And also NRC columnist Bas Heijne disagrees:

Hopkins is not the only analyst to see broader trends. Bas Heijne, a columnist for the NRC-Handelsblad newspaper, said Asscher was part of a wave of Dutch politicians 'who are moral, or at least using morality, in a highly dubious sense. They are trying to overcompensate for a lack of moral values over a long period. They have ideas that are not very well thought-out but that they think should be implemented immediately.'

But again it strikes me that nobody thinks about the clients who visit these women. I have visited the Prostitution Information Centre on de Wallen and discussed with Mariska Majoor, a former prostitute. She admitted that many prositutes on de Wallen were trafficked. She estimated that 20 percent of the women on de Wallen were trafficked.

If that’s true and you are a regular visitor, then basically for each 10 prostitutes you visit, you should expect to encounter 2 women who are trafficked. Essentially you’re raping these women. Only in the case when you know of a particular prostitute who works voluntarily it is justifiable to visit a prostitute in my opinion.

From my point of view de Wallen is useless. The police and the landlords should put their efforts in stopping the victims from working in these brothels. Or else they would better close them down. Unfortunately the landlords often deny the presence of human trafficking in their brothels, so every basis for a discussion is lacking.

Funny thing in this article is that according to recent government figures 26 percent of the prostitutes in Amsterdam are African. But that’s funny because I’ve counted prostitutes on hookers.nl, a website for clients of prostitutes where they can share their experiences with prostitutes. My estimate is that in Amsterdam only 5 percent of the prostitutes is African. 2 clients who regularly visit prostitutes in Amsterdam confirmed that only a few African prostitutes work in Amsterdam. Like for instance on de Wallen only some 30 African women are concentrated around the Oudekerksplein. And you’ll hardly find them on de the Ruysdaelkade and de Pijp. I have to figure this out.

Update March 9th, 2006
And I have found the solution, it seems that the author of the article has misinterpreted the statistics!!! (those numbers refer to victims of human trafficking and NOT to prostitutes in Amsterdam) You can read my explanation in my next post.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

More links

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More about Tom Marfo and Ruth Hopkins:

Interviews by Pete Sawyer.

Breaking the Spell (about Tom Marfo, Ghanian priest in Amsterdam)
(...) Marfo works with what the Dutch Government terms 'illegal immigrants', whom he prefers to call 'undocumented people'. He has rescued countless young African women smuggled into the Netherlands and forced by criminal gangs to work as prostitutes-virtual slaves. (...) Marfo first came to Amsterdam in 1988. 'I loved the canals, the relative calmness of the city compared to life in London at the time. But there was one thing that really shocked me. My puritanical psyche was completely jolted when I went to the Red Light District. I didn't know there was anything like that in this world. 'I couldn't stand the fact that they were involved in prostitution and were naked and it was like it was normal. From my spiritual perspective it was wrong. More importantly it was extremely degrading to the women. I saw a lot of Africans and I knew immediately something was wrong. (...)

Into the heart of darkness (about Ruth Hopkins, Dutch journalist, reports about human trafficking in the Netherlands)
(...) 'By accident, I interviewed a trafficker. In 2000, prostitution had just been legalized. I wanted to talk to the women [in a brothel] and to a brothel owner to ask them what they thought of the new laws,' she explains.' I talked to the owner for about three hours. It took some time for it to dawn on me. "What did he just say? He bought women? Jesus, how can you buy people?" This was suburbia, where people were interested in their gardens, yet there was this guy living right next to them buying and selling women for the sex industry. (...)

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Running with Atalanta

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I'm getting bored. That stupid copyright-restriction has limited my creativity.

I'll link to another website instead:

Running with Atalanta

It contains a radio-show about two women, Anna Ziverte and the evil and notorious Ruth Hopkins.

Ten years ago, Ziverte was a 22-year-old law student in Latvia. She decided to take a break and came to the Netherlands for what she thought was a job as an au pair. Upon her arrival, she was told she had to work in the sex trade or she would never see her child again.

(...)


Ten years ago, Ruth Hopkins was a 22-year-old law student in the Netherlands. A few years later while researching a European Commission report about trafficking women, she interviewed Ziverte. "In the early 90s when Anna was tricked into being trafficked, there wasn't a lot of information around," explains Hopkins. "That has changed drastically."


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