Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shared Hope

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I read through that Shared Hope report.

There's interesting information on
http://www.sharedhope.org/Resources/DEMAND.aspx
and there's even a 45 minute documentary featuring Toos Heemskerk-Schep and her husband Willem Heemskerk (both from the Christian organization Het Scharlaken Koord [Scarlet Cord]). This page also mentions the full report:
DEMAND. A Comparative Examination of Sex Tourism and Trafficking in Jamaica, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States

The full copy can be downloaded here:
http://www.sharedhope.org/Portals/0/Documents/DEMAND.pdf

A section is about Dutch prostitution and can be separately downloaded here:
http://www.sharedhope.org/Portals/0/Documents/demand_netherlands.pdf
It contains information from Het Scharlaken Koord (Scarlet Cord) about the women who work in the RLD of Amsterdam (Wallen). See pages 52-53 (Survey report written and translated by Scarlet Cord, edited by Shared Hope International, August 2005). And some detailed information about their nationalities! What surprises me is the large number of Latin Americans mentioned. 42% of the women come from that part of the world (99 out of 237). I did a count on hookers.nl (a review site for prostitution clients) during that period, but the Latin American women weren't that prominent. Perhaps they are not so popular among the clients. Also funny is that the Scarlet Cord also encounters the usual girls from "Italy" and "Greece" (probably Eastern European women from Bulgaria, Romania and Albania).

The Scarlet Cord also says:
EarningsThe girls will not reveal to whom they give the money. We know that they can make about €500 per night. Those who work for a “loverboy” cannot keep any money for themselves. Those who work for a pimp from Eastern Europe pay about 75 percent to the pimp and keep the rest. I met a girl from Greece who was trafficked by an Albanian man. She made €60,000 for him in one year. She was 17 when she started to work with a fake passport. This information came from a brothel owner. Dutch and East European prostitutes have tattoos with the names of their pimps. This makes it a bit easier for the police, but the pimps don’t realize that. The African girls start off with a debt of €40,000; if she pays that back, she is “free.”

If you calculate that those 237 women all pay €125 per day for a room, and earn about €500 of which, based on evidence, little if any of it is kept by the woman or legally filed for tax purposes. That’s €625 total a day, €3125 per week, a little over €1 million in one year, just from one girl.

Recruitment and Transportation
We obtained information about recruitment from the Dutch and the South Americans and a little bit from the East Europeans, but that was complicated by language difficulties. South American women come to Holland by plane or train through Spain. The average age is over 40. Most of these women have been here for many years, have their Dutch papers and work to keep up their financial needs. Some ladies are over the age of 60.

Africans come by plane most of the time via Western Europe. They fly into Germany and take a train or plane into Amsterdam or Belgium. Most of them work on fake passports. They are a closed group. They like to pray and want to have books and bibles, but will never tell their stories. East European girls are also closed and don’t dare tell their stories to the police. Most of the Dutch girls have come by way of pimps, so-called “loverboys.”

Conditions
Most girls live in apartments owned by the traffickers with connections in Amsterdam. Most African girls live in the Bijlmermeer. As long as the girl has a pimp she is not free to come and go. You can see that with the Dutch girls, you see them walking with their “protectors”, but the Africans don’t have “protection” around them and they are afraid. The South Americans are free to come and go. But what is freedom if your whole family is relying on your income? These women are always under pressure from their family, parents, or children to provide financially. One woman told me that she resembles a terrorist because she sacrifices her life for her family.
The report also contains interviews with (former) prostitutes in the Netherlands, the Shared Hope group also made field observations in the Netherlands itself. Very interesting.

While I was reading through the report I felt some kind of déjà vu. I really thought; haven't I read this somewhere before? Anyway...... this really makes clear there's a real translation problem with respect to prostitution documentation. You can find tons of literature in the Dutch libraries, but only the people who have that special gift of being able to read Dutch can understand its content. This makes it extremely difficult for outsiders to study prostitution in the Netherlands. Same thing goes for other non-English speaking countries. I propose that (feminist) activists throughout the world translate all the material for free. I will cost a lot of man-hours, but some documents are really too important to overlook (just a hunch anyway).

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