Monday, May 28, 2007

New numbers

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The Dutch Foundation against Trafficking in Women has released new numbers over the whole year of 2006 (see http://www.mensenhandel.nl/ in 'cijfers t/m 2006', or to be more specific over here).

It is interesting that contrary to earlier years they also registered the sector where victims worked. The numbers (in case of prostitution) are like this (the total number of victims in 2006 was 579 of whom 30 were men):
124 (21,5%) : Brothel/club
66 (11,5%) : window prostitution
47 (8,1%) : Privéhuis **
44 (7,6%) : Street prostitution
30 (5,2%) : Escort
**: A privéhuis is a brothel without a bar, clients are directly introduced to the prostitutes

Also some 4,9% of the cases involved sectors other than prostitution. In the remaining cases (41%) the sector was probably unknown (the foundation is unclear about that).

Funny thing is that in these new numbers the clubs and privéhuizen are 2,6 times more often involved than window prostitution, that was totally unexpected for me. An old theory can be thrown into the dustbin. Probably human trafficking is not relatively more often involved in window prostitution than in other sectors of prostitution as I thought it would be (my estimate is that as a whole prostitution in clubs and privéhuizen is 2,5 times larger than in window prostitution, so compare that to the 2,6).

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Surprise - part 3.....

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(translated from Dutch, AD, Saturday, May 19th, 2007)
http://www.ad.nl/denhaag/stad/article1382614.ece

‘A man Works for me’By Leo van der Velde and Coen van Kranenburg
THE HAGUE – the window prostitution in de Geleenstraat and de Doubletstraat is not amused. To express it properly.

According to all those involved these streets are wrongly involved in the ‘rock-hard’ fact that nationwide three quarters of the prostitutes are exploited and many are victims of human trafficking. That high percentage is named in publications by Hague vice inspectors as well as their colleagues at the Nationale Recherche [criminal investigation department].

“We always first go with the ladies, who want to hire a window at us, to the police. They are then interrogated if they are forced,” say owners of the three window rental companies Termsma, Joyce and Peet, who have the largest segment of the prostitution premises in their possession. “The ladies have ample opportunity to separately make a statement. It is better to ask the ladies themselves. Or don’t they have a voice?”

Ruby (35), a Dominican who works in one of the passages on number 2, smiles gaily. “I work for nobody. Yes, for my children.” The Spanish prostitute Antonia (35) on number 8 and her colleague Estella (number 4) say practically the same. Clarissa (number 15) – little nurse dress on a hanger – as well. The same is true for the 25 year old Ingrid and – a window further – the six Spanish-speaking ladies, big and small, fat and thin, on number 40. Roars with laughter come up if we let the interpreter ask if they work for a chulo (Spanish for pimp). Edith, Rosa, Norma, Rina and Carmen put up their middle finger. Edith clenches her fist. “You police talk with all of us. We work for our families. To work forced by a man? Tsss, a man works for me.”

Same reactions on de Geleenstraat. Asha on number 2 and – a door further – Unai shake their heads. Marja, who manages several windows for window proprietors, says that one carefully watches if the female renters appear on the workplace with slammed-shut eyes or bruises. Also Ka, a pretty Chinese, says to know nothing.

Finally on number 130 Anastasia and Domenique sit behind a window. No, say the ladies, we don’t work for a bloke.

Not only the reports that maltreatment and exploitation are everyday practices also in The Hague have created bad blood. Also the statements of the national vice inspectors that prostitutes suffer big blows when they don’t earn thousands of euros per week, are referred to the land of fables.

An anonymous source from the prostitution industry does acknowledge that there is forced labour. Mainly girls of Dutch and Bulgarian descent are thought to be involved, who have become the victims of loverboys. This source estimates that between five and fifteen percent are involved. “But even if it was only a percentage, that’s still too many.”

Spokesperson Wim Hoonhout of the police also speaks of worrying circumstances. “We perceive a grave situation, where a large segment of the prostitutes in the region are victims of human trafficking.”

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Surprise - part 2!!!!!

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I don’t know what to believe. Pick and choose what you like. There’s a new Volkskrant article written by Menno van Dongen ("reportage Misstanden in de prostitutie - Gevangen achter het raam" ["report - abuses in prostitution - Imprisoned behind the window"](Volkskrant, Menno van Dongen, May 5th 2007), May 5fth, 2007). Some quotes:

(…) For six weeks the Volkskrant followed specialists of the Dutch police who are doing research into a violent gang of human traffickers. During the last years this gang forced at least 90 women to work against their will behind the windows of Amsterdam, Alkmaar, Utrecht and The Hague. The women were guarded by bodyguards and were being maltreated in a horrendous way.
‘This organization is only the tip of the iceberg’, according to Jan van Til, teamleader of the Unit Noord- en Oost Nederland of the Nationale Recherche [criminal investigation department].
‘There are more of these sort of organizations’, according to Henk Werson, national co-coordinator human trafficking at the police. ‘Many prostitutes are forced to earn thousands of euros per week by their pimp and are maltreated if they don’t achieve that.’ (…)
‘In the Hague roughly 70 percent of the window prostitutes are victims of human trafficking’, says 33 year old vice investigator Anita. She has worked [and still works] for years for the Ploeg Commerciële Zeden [team commercial vice] and started her career as a local policeman on the tippelzone.
‘Many women are victims, but don’t know that themselves, or they don’t want to know.’, states the inspector [Anita]. ‘For them it’s a big step to acknowledge they have been tricked, for instance, through a loverboy method. They feel ashamed, are scared or believe they are in love with their pimp.’ (…)
Most vice investigators have been trained by Henk Werson, specialist in the area of victims of human trafficking. He works at he Expertisecentrum Mensenhandel en Mensensmokkel [expert centre human trafficking and people smuggling] in Zwolle, a division of the National Recherche. In addition Werson is national co-coordinator human trafficking at the police; he describes himself as the ‘driver and advisor’ of the team that researchers the activities of the brothers B. [the gang which exploited at least 90 women] and their accomplices.
According to Werson only a few window prostitutes satisfy the ideal picture of the woman who enters the profession voluntarily, doesn’t have to hand over money and can choose for herself when she works and which clients she takes. ‘That’s true for only 1 or 2 percent of the prostitutes. And then there are the women who have worked against their will for so long, that they got used to the profession. They are not forced but think that they can’t do anything else.’
But still a large majority of the prostitutes say they entered their profession voluntarily, according to a recent report by the Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum (WODC, scientific research and documentation centre) of the ministry of justice (they mean this report: Evaluatie opheffing bordeelverbod; de sociale positie van prostituees 2006). Werson says that the testimonies of the prostitutes are unreliable on this issue. ‘They will nearly all deny that they are forced, even if that is the case. In all kinds of researches it turns out that at least between 70 and 80 percent of the women don’t do this work voluntarily [I've actually never seen such a report]. That’s also what we hear from ex-prostitutes.’
The police-expert states that many women have good reasons to keep silent about compulsion. ‘Many prostitutes are maltreated, threatened or charmed by a pimp. Some maybe started voluntarily, but what you often see, is that quickly a pimp shows up who says: if you don’t give me your earnings, I will tell your family that you are in the profession. Then you have a problem, because prostitution is still taboo.’ (…)
Dutch women are often charmed by pimps who try to make girls dependent on them, says Henk Werson, the human trafficking specialist of the police. Many people call such pimps loverboys, but that word we never use at the police, because it’s being romanticized. They are ruthless human traffickers, who use a sort of loverboy-method: they approach vulnerable girls, promise them everything and try to make them fall in love. When that is achieved, they are being put to work in prostitution and are isolated from family and friends. To stop is then almost impossible.
‘What you often see with foreign women, is that their family is threatened, or that they are brought to the Netherlands by human traffickers and thereafter have to pay off a huge, large fictive debt for the journey’, according to the police expert. ‘The interest percentage is mostly so huge, that they never can relieve their debt. Many women hardly complain, because they can make a lot more money here than in their own country. Still you can speak of exploitation.’ (…)

I repeat, I don’t know what to believe anymore. For instance, the articles talks about 70 percent of the window prostitutes in The Hague who are forced. That’s also what a client told me on a forum. Funny is that Paul van Gelder (one of the contributors on one of the recent WODC-reports, the one about 'Verboden bordelen; evaluatie opheffing bordeelverbod: niet-legale prostitutie' in which he researched the situation in Amsterdam) has also done fieldwork in The Hague in the recent past and he said to me that many prostitutes who work there are independent!!!! But, he also gave me the advice to go into the prostitution neighbourhoods and observe the prostitutes when they have their lunch-brake. If you see them sit with each other having a lunch, then according to van Gelder, they are independent. He probably assumes that all forced prostitutes are monitered 24 hours a day, which could explain why he believes many window prostitutes in The Hague are independent.

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