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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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sneep

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Some highlights from the 'Schone Schijn' report. Translated, so that all the non-Dutch people can read and weep too!!!!

You can read the report 'Schone Schijn' over here:

(the webpage of the OM)
http://www.om.nl/onderwerpen/mensenhandel_en/@148766/de_signalering_van/

(the pdf-file)
http://www.om.nl/publish/pages/98059/klpd_sneep_low_res_tcm5-968601.pdf

Note that respondent 34 can be nobody other than Toos Heemskerk of the Scharlaken Koord (Scarlet Cord).

Also note that the writers extensively use the square brackets (I mean [ and ]) like I do, that's why this time I use curly brackets ({ and }) instead if I want to give comments.

Page 34:
In 2007 the analysts of the Sneep project had insight in possibly 120 victims around the network of the brothers Dürdan, of whom 78 supposed victims (see also extent, §3.6, and methods, §4.7.1). Of the 120 prostitutes there were many from Germany (36) and the Netherlands (25). In total 73 women (65%) from ‘the old EU-member states’, twenty (17%) from the member states who joined in 2005 and eleven (9%) from the member states who joined in 2007. Six women (5%) were not born in a country that is a member of the European Union. Of ten women no country of birth was known.

(…)

Probably the women are already working in prostitution before they become part of the group Dürdan. From the information of the Sneep project there are no (supposed) victims known who did not know in advance that they would be working as a prostitute. There are several ways in which prostitutes are incorporated into the group. Mostly the prostitutes are ‘snatched’ from other pimps. Usually a prostitute is persuaded to voluntarily ‘move over’. Four women reported to the police that they were intimidated by the group. Group members stood in front of the door of these women and kept clients away. The prostitutes had a strong feeling that is was the intention that they had to work for the organization.
Page 35:
very scared
A is being called by B. B forgot to say to A that he couldn’t come this evening because his girl isn’t going to work today. A says that the girl of B was becoming cocky because she doesn’t call his girl anymore. “That is not allowed”, says B, “she could be cocky towards me but not towards them because they are her girlfriends. Although she’s cocky, what the fuck (…) {(…) in original text}. She knows that her life could become in danger then, she knows well enough that you will kill her then. The girl is very frightened of you.”

Like a little lamb
A telephone conversation between two suspects. The girl of one of them wants to spend money on clothes. The other advises him that he mustn’t let his girl do too exuberant purchases.
A: “You must sometimes say no.. I say it, sometimes you must grab them by the throat.. like grab them by the hair.. and say like I will fuck you, will do something to you and look you into the eyes and throw {them} away… that will be enough for her… I don’t lie.... I swear to you.. last time we had a quarrel and I battered her very badly, I battered her a bit. She is now like a little lamb…
-B: “She is now a pussycat and sits in the corner….

Earn more
Suspect A call suspect B. B tells that his girl is asleep now and that she has cried. “How much has that one of you earned?” asks A. “A little”, says B.
A: “Enough to pay the rent?
B: “No
A: “How much did she earn yesterday?
B: “Five hundred
A: “Say to her that you will arrange that she will get silicones and stuff like that, so she will earn a thousand a day. She will get silicones and we will make her hair in order.
Page 39:
3.8. Current state of affairs

The first arrests of the Sneep project were done in February 2007. 28 suspects in total were apprehended. One of the suspects also was a victim. Aside from that three suspects were already detained and one suspect was subject in an investigation. During the interrogation period two victims have been apprehended due to perjury.
As of January 2008 eights suspects are still in preventive custody. These are the suspects who were regarded as pimps by the research team. The bodyguards have been released in the meantime. Apart from that all the suspects who have come into view will be prosecuted wherever possible. (…)

Fifteen victims have reported the crime to the police or made an incriminating statement. Most victims still work in window prostitution. Also the bodyguards are working again in the window prostitution areas.
Page 72:
Multiple respondents told us that some brothel operators aside from renting out windows, also provided accommodation to prostitutes while asking an exorbitant rent (Respondents 5 & 6). First of all this is reminiscent to the dependent position which is typical of the offence of human trafficking. Second of all this raises the question if a brothel owner commits human trafficking in the sense of article 273f Sr when he provides accommodation to victims of human trafficking: art 273 lid 1 Sub 1 Sr after all implicitly names ‘providing accommodation’. The brothel owner is with the knowledge of the crime guilty of human trafficking anyway: by renting out windows he willingly and knowingly takes advantage of the exploitive situation.

7.5.2 Case Dürdan

A window landlord from one of the cities where the Dürdan group was active, has requested in the spring of 2005 a consultation with the department of Commercial Vice of the local police. He was worried about “German Turks” in the prostitution area where he rented out work chambers. Of some other operators of window leasing companies it might be assumed that they were aware of the fact that their female renters work for a pimp, but no other brothel operator made a formal report of this to the police.

Some window landlords explicitly state that they only hold contact with prostitutes; others also do business with pimps. From the telephone conversation given below between two main suspects it can be deducted that the window landlord involved only wants to talk with the prostitutes themselves. On the other hand the conversation makes clear that the landlord is informed about the fact that there are third persons who have a businesslike interest in the activities of the female renter.
Page 73:
A. is called by B. He asks if Jackie is a girl belonging to them. When A. confirms this, B. tells that their own girl from C, is expelled out of her own room in [X] and he heard that the girl next to her, Jackie, was also supposedly expelled out of the room. B. explains that he phoned to the office to ask for an explanation, but they didn’t want to tell him anything, because they only wanted to talk to the girls themselves. But they did tell that the police came. B. Says that he wants to throw in the windows of all the rooms. A. will find out what has happened and will call B. back.

From the following passage it becomes clear that the window landlord is doing business with the pimps of the group. The Dürdan group in this municipality always uses the same workspaces. The following conversation between A. and John, a window landlord, illustrates this. The window is rented out to a woman who works for John. A. tries to reverse this.

A: ”But John, you do know, we have always…this [workplace] is only for us”

A. doesn’t succeed in getting the room and a couple of days later he tries again under the name Halit. John doesn’t seem to recognize the voice of A. and then went on to call him Halit. A. says that he is on this [location] for fifteen years. Also this conversation doesn’t yield the right result. John proposes that ‘Halit’ comes to his office. According to the criminal investigation teams of the Project Sneep multiple telephone calls have been made which point at direct contact between (co-workers of) window landlords and the suspects. From this it turns out that landlords are informed with the fact that they are dealing with pimps. In the following fragment the group is searching for living accommodation:

A. makes a call with the brothel operator and asks if he has a little apartment for two girls who come to [municipality X]. He doesn’t have that. A. is referred to a man whom is specified by the brothel operator as ‘my brother’.


On the yearly expenses of window leasing company Y was a deduction of 500.000 euro under the title ‘commission’. An audit that the tax department started after this and a conversation with the manager of this company learned that this was about protection money. To whom this was paid, the manager didn’t want to tell.
Page 75:
Some inspectors ask for the identification card during the inspection and have a chat to win the trust of the prostitute (Respondent 17), others focus mainly towards the validity of the papers. Some inspectors make the certificate of registration at the Chamber of Commerce and a sofi-number {~National Insurance Number} obligatory, others ask only for a passport (Respondent 12). Some inspectors aside from inspections also pay attention to loitering pimps or persons in expensive cars. Two of them indicated that it is important to be present in the prostitution zone in order to see what’s happening (Respondent 10 & 11). During the accompaniment with the prostitution inspections in turned out that they were talking with bodyguards and pimps. The suspects didn’t give the impression that they wanted to conceil their activities from the policemen. One of them even complained about a group member. In one municipality the prostitution inspections are not always planned. It is then tried to inspect an as large as possible area. During the inspections one also looks out for possible bodyguards and pimps. Outside of that {prostitution area}, as far as is known, not.
Page 76:
A number of the interviewed inspectors or vice detectives find it difficult to give a reliable estimate of the percentage of prostitutes that work under force (Respondent 14). Others did dare to make an estimate. Estimates named of the percentage of women whom are forced and/or exploited, are 50% (Respondents 22 & 23), 60% (Respondent 17), 70% (Respondent 10 & 11) and 65-85% (Respondent 9).
Page 78:
Eva and Pavlina want to work in Z. A. brought them there, but didn’t want to be seen with them in the street. “He said to us that he first wanted to walk into the street together with B. We weren’t allowed to walk near him. We had to walk a distance behind him and do as if we didn’t belong to them. We did have to keep an eye on them. A. was supposed to stand before a door of a window prostitution building. This would be a sign for us that we should go inside there to ask if we could work there. And so it happened that way. This later turned out to be property X. In the building we first had to wait until the police had inspected us. After this we went to work.”
Page 79:
Except for the window landlords, the police is probably the most often present in the prostitution zone. They capture the most signals of trafficking in women and estimate the percentage of involuntarily working prostitutes to be high. These signals are not always very concrete though. Often these are also ‘underbelly feelings’ of the vice detectives and it’s difficult for them to lay their finger on it. Especially when the victims in question don’t want to be identified as such. The problem is that the short moments of contact during the inspection often yield few signals with a so-called ‘investigation indication’. The papers which are inspected are mostly in order. This doesn’t guarantee voluntariness on the side of the prostitute however.
Possibly that ‘hanging around’ in the prostitution areas will yield more concrete signals. Also then the question remains why so few investigations result from so many signals (see also chapter 10).

(…)

In two of the three municipalities the social workers are positive about the cooperation with the police (Respondents 34, 35, 36 & 37), although more capacity at the police to deal with loitering pimps would be welcome (Respondent 35). One of them would also like to see that the municipality involves the brothels owners more in countering human trafficking (Respondent 34). This way it could be made compulsory that in every room in multiple languages there would be a notice board on the door with a telephone number for girls who are under force or want to leave. At this moment prostitutes don’t always know how they have to make known that they need help. One girl who wanted to step out, told her that she had tried to draw the attention from the police at the moment her pimp wasn’t there. The policemen however waved back unsuspectingly. (Respondent 34).
Page 80:
In the third municipality there’s according to the interviewed social workers no cooperation with the police. “Brothel owners keep matters better under control [in the prostitution zone] than the police”. When there are problems with a pimp they call in the help of the brothel operators (Respondents 38 & 63).
Not all social workers can make judgements about the extent to which force takes place in prostitution zones. Sometimes it happens that prostitutes are forced for years and only tell that afterwards. “The barrier to work in prostitution is high, but the barrier to leave is even higher” (Respondent 37). “[On a tippelzone] there was for instance a cheerful, sociable girl. After three years it turned out the she was violently pimped” (Respondent 37). One of the social workers thinks that many women [in the prostitution zone in the city where she works] are one way or another under control of a pimp. She also adds that at the moment many Hungarian women work there who are often in a bad condition. “Some don’t know in which country they are. Some work for way too low prices and without a condom” (Respondent 38). Another female social worker estimates that approximately one half of the women enters prostitution (by way of relationships in) the criminal scene. The majority of the Eastern European women ‘enters with an individual who arranges everything’ (Respondent 34). Among these young Eastern European women furthermore the turnover is large because their pimp constantly puts them to work in different places (Respondent 35). The Dürdan group by the way is not a very good example of this so-called ‘prostitution-carrousel’: most girls constantly work(ed) in the same city and often even behind the same window.

(…)

Social workers probably have a reasonable insight into the fact if the women whom they have contact with are working voluntarily or not. One problem with this is that many victims probably talk with the social workers on the condition that their secret is safe. When social workers share too many signals with the police, the position of trust with their clients becomes damaged and no signals will come in again. Nonetheless the police and social workers do share information to a certain extent.
Page 86 {a bodyguard explains after his arrest}:
Question: “Can you tell something about the girls whom you know [in a certain prostitution zone]?”
A: There exist [x number of] windows [in this prostitution zone]. From the smallest to the largest brick I know everyone and everything. I don’t know a lot about the girls. I don’t know their real names. Sometimes I was favoured by the police [in the prostitution zone]. I don’t work for the police. I did have good contact with the police. I always mediated when there where problems. I didn’t have fixed windows where I kept an eye on. The four women about whom I talked earlier did have fixed addresses” (interrogation, Sneep File).


Two interviewed prostitution inspectors indeed had ‘good contact’ with the bodyguards or pimps and the brothel operators (or managers). By one of the brothel operators they were invited to a new year party, by one of the prostitutes to her wedding (Respondents 10 & 11). The question arises if such a tight contact doesn’t hinder the inspection activities.
Page 87 {a victim of forced prostitution said:}
“When I see [prostitution inspectors] shake hands with pimps or [see] them throw an arm around them, and when I see [prostitution inspectors] drink coffee with the brothel operators, I have the feeling I can’t say anything anymore” (Respondent 61).
Page 92:
Starting from April 2007 30 supposed victims of the Dürdan group were approached. Seventeen of them stated that they didn’t feel victims of human trafficking. Five women didn’t want or dare to make a statement. Three women made an incriminating statement. Five women reported the crime of human trafficking to the police, but later three of them wanted to withdraw it again. A number of these reports had already been done before to start of the investigation. (see also Chapter Ten about the cause of the unresponsiveness of these women.)
Page 93:
Also foreign women don’t see themselves necessarily as victim. Some in the country of origin entered into a contract that after arrival in the Netherlands turned out be unjust. A wage of 15 euro per hour perhaps is a lot in the country of birth, but in prostitution in the Netherlands that is a mere pittance by comparison. Nevertheless they themselves agreed {into that} (Respondent 37). In the governmental report of an investigation into human trafficking (Donar) this is confirmed:

From the research it turned out that the willingness of the women to report the crime is low. It is striking that this cannot always be blamed to fear of reprisals, but can also be explained by a difference of opinion about norms and values. In our eyes the women are exploited and abused, but not all women experience it that way. That is because the (financial) position in Bulgaria is often very bad and they earn in the Netherlands a lot more money than they would in their own country. Even when most of the money goes to the human trafficker (Donar, 2001:12) {Kernteam Noord en Oost Nederland (2001). Rapportage naar aanleiding van het Donar recherche onderzoek.}

From a research in 2001 among prostitutes in Amsterdam it turned out that many Eastern European women found it to be normal to pay a pimp or to enter into a contract with an agency. For that reason they saw no reason to report the crime. Moreover they didn’t see themselves as victims, but on the contrary as survivors:
Page 93-94:
Of course we know the men of that agency are taking advantage of us; we must pay a lot of money, but we knew what the contract was about”. We are all happy to stop working in this job once our debts have been paid, but we will not go back to Belarus. Although we are well-educated, there is no employment for us at home. […] The men in my village are also unemployed., they drink to much and they abuse their wives and children. We will find a nice man here so that we can stay; we are survivors” -Lisa, 22 (GG&GD Amsterdam, 2005:7) {GG&GD Amsterdam (2005). Intermediary project for prostitutes. Annual report 2002-2004.} {not translated! Originally in English}
Page 94:
Third of all victims are difficult to be recognized based on physical features alone. In the case Dürdan two women were under pressure to earn a high target sum per day. A cheerful and provocative prostitute attracts most clients, so paradoxically enough exactly these victims looked like ‘happy hookers’. Generally during the inspections prostitutes are being talked to for a couple of minutes. Assuming the above-mentioned {happy hookers-like victims} it is unlikely that a victim at a certain moment will make clear towards an inspector that she is being forced. Victims will do everything to appear to be there voluntarily. The fact that women are being monitored by pimps and bodyguards, makes a victim testimony even more unlikely. As it happens, policemen must legitimize themselves when they inspect a prostitute. “When a pimp sees that, then you immediately try to remove them [prostitution inspectors] to outside as quickly as possible”, according to a victim. (Respondent 56). The same victim remarked that prostitution inspectors often had the tendency to step inside

as if they were pimps themselves; as if they know what it’s all about in this world. They just should behave normally. They often come in as if they are so tough. That doesn’t really invite {you} to talk (Respondent 56).

A second respondent whom we spoke with, had the same impression (Respondent 62). Also the social workers of the Foundation Against Trafficking in Women have the impression that the women don’t have a need for ‘a chat with the police’, but they want the police to aim towards the pimps (Respondent 57).
Page 107:
How strong the loyalty towards the perpetrators is, turns out from the fact that two victims – despite that they have been apprehended for perjury – keep on maintaining that they work voluntarily and allowed to keep the money for themselves. The team confronted the victims with telephone conversations from which is turns out that the women don’t decide the working hours themselves, are not allowed themselves to decide who their clients are or must earn a minimum of 1000 euro per night. One of the two states as follows:

Sarah: “I really do it voluntarily. I don’t understand the problem. I already did this work a year before I got to know A. I work six days a week now. If I can get it in order, I do work seven days because I have to do everything now A isn’t here anymore. I have to go out shopping and cleaning and take the dog out. During the last months I have a lot of stress since A is apprehended. […]”
Policeman: “I had hoped that when you wouldn’t be under pressure of A., you would stand up for yourself. Now I have to confront you with lies and that I find a pity. I know that you didn’t tell those lies to improve your own situation but you told them under pressure. Or am I wrong?”
Sarah: “I don’t want to give an answer. I have answered enough questions. I’m not under pressure. I’m only under pressure from you because you keep on coming with these telephone conversations.”
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Netherlands: Trade and Tolerance Lead to Trafficking

I found an interesting English-language report about the Dutch sex industry on the website of shared hope international:

Here it is:
http://www.sharedhope.org/files/demand_netherlands.pdf

I'm reading it.