Thursday, February 19, 2009



Lately I suddenly stumbled upon two previously hidden documents about forced prostitution in Utrecht, especially Eastern European women on the Zandpad. The thing these reports tell could be true. I did notice while doing my that indeed many Eastern European women work there nowadays (think about 50%, many Bulgarian and Hungarian women). I find it actually interesting to see how they draw their conclusions. The scale of forced prostitution is very difficult to proof indeed. As you will see, the large percentages basically come from rough estimates of social workers with long experience in the field. So technically, you cannot proof anything; when you will interview prostitutes they simply "clam up".

I made some usual free-form translations.

report 1:
Signalen Mensenhandel Utrecht (May 29th 2008, Afdeling Bestuursinformatie Sector Bestuurs- en Concernzaken Gemeente Utrecht)

Page 3:
During the operational analysis of registration The Politie Regio Utrecht has found nine concrete signals of human trafficking on the Zandpad within a time span of eight months.

Page 8:
In short the GG&GD sees the following signals on the Zandpad: a quickly varying population (30-40% of the women) of often Eastern European girls, who barely speak the Dutch language. The GG&GD puts question marks on the age of these girls, just 18 or just not. After inquiry into the reason of being present on the Zandpad they strikingly often have the same story. Women are regularly in the company of ‘[boy?-]friend’ or ‘brother’, drivers are among them. Sometimes physical signs are seen which could point to violence (bruises etc. ).

Page 9-10:
Also volunteers of clerical organizations see strikingly many frightened Eastern European girls. Volunteers of different clerical organizations are often active for years already on the Zandpad. They pass by the houseboats and try to get in contact with the women. They also come on the Zandpad during the night.
They encounter strikingly many young girls from Eastern Europe who barely speak the Dutch language. Girls make a frightened impression and are often accompanied by ‘vague’ male types who show controlling behaviour (listening in etc.) and also physically obstruct the volunteers to reach the girls. The population of the houseboats varies quickly, prostitutes indicate that they often travel for their work and are not bound to one workplace. During conversations with the women on three Friday evenings one of the clerical organizations encounters two Eastern European women where they see the situation as very fishy (looking bad, sad, closed). They speak on these evenings approximately 40 women in total, among who many women not from Eastern Europe (many from Santo Domingo).


The HAP [Huiskameraanloop Prostituees = Living room for prostitutes] saw 874 women on the Zandpad in 2007 [note at the bottom of that page: “per day the number of unique visitors is registered. Women who visit the HAP more often than once (for example a couple of days later), are registered once again. The number 874 doesn’t concern the number of unique persons on a yearly basis”]. In the second half of 2007 47 women came on their own initiative to the HAP to talk about compulsion (among themselves or others). While doing outreaching work the HAP sees per round some dozens of women. Among half of them they place question marks. Within this group they see many Eastern European women. Striking is also a quickly varying population of ‘very young’ [piepjonge] Bulgarian girls, of whom many originate from Alkmaar (they speak of a ‘Bulgarian wave from Alkmaar’). This group makes a frightened impression, show nervous behaviour, are often way too skinny and after articulating the suspicion of maltreatment ‘they clam up’.

Client of prostitutes also report abuses
On many reviews are written by clients about the service of prostitutes. During last December MGZ [Maatschappelijke Gezondheidszorg = Social Healthcare = department of the GG&GD] took stock of all reviews related to the Zandpad. The origin of the women, past work and reports of compulsion/abuses were screended. The months after that, the website with respect to the Zandpad was only screened on the origin of the women and on reports of abuses.

From the analysis of December the image exists of a strongly varying population on the Zandpad with many women from Eastern European countries. Of five women there are reports of abuses (of the 88, clients however prefer fixed women which causes the quickly varying women not to be reviewed often [from my own research on this turns out not to be the case! Clients could follow the prostitute from one location to another for years]). In these reports there are talks of nervousness, exhaustion, long working hours, not a free choice of workplace and explicitly of forced prostitution (two reports). All cases involved Eastern European women and in an incidental case again there’s a relation made between Alkmaar.

Page 11-12:
From the analysis of the police recent information has been registered from the second semester 2007 until and including February 2008. Using the police sources blueview, het Herkenningssysteem (HKS [Recognizing System]), the district police officer and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) suspect persons and groups, active on the Zandpad have been identified. Subsequently there has been looked in the history of what more is known about persons and possible other group members and/or victims. In the systems there has been sought using the keywords ‘forced’ and ‘human trafficking’. Information was deemed more reliable when it came form multiple sources. About the persons involved more reports had to be present. Also use is made of the expertise of the team Commerciële Zeden and the Eenheid Mensenhandel Mensensmokkel [Unit Human Trafficking People Smuggling].

Characteristics of human trafficking found on the Zandpad
From the described signals we can identify the following characteristics of human trafficking on the Zandpad (like described in appendix 1):
-Towards the suspects there is a relationship of dependency of the prostitutes (probable caused by the foreign descent of the prostitutes, having few contacts with Dutch society, a bad mastery of language and a relatively low age).
-Suspects have a degree of control over the victims (like transport to living addresses and multiple work areas, tattoo name of pimp on the prostitute, keeping an eye during activities including counting of the number of clients, use of multiple forged identification cards).
-Use of violence (observed are injuries, domestic violence, maltreatment and threats, trivialization of violence by victim out of fear ).
-Remarkable living addresses like declared by suspects and victims on the Zandpad. Housing is an important component of the criminal infrastructure of human trafficking, a living location is used as a sleeping address, but is also used as means of control over the prostitutes. Prostitutes name multiple living addresses within a relative short period; multiple prostitutes name the same address.

Enormous amounts of money go around on the Zandpad
Enormous amounts of money go around in the prostitution branch. This is what the police also sees in the signals on the Zandpad:
-Expensive cars (as a means of transport for prostitutes, as means of control)
-Not known is how much the expensive cars corresponds with the performed labour and salary of the suspects.
-Financial streams show that the prostitutes remit tens of thousand of euros to persons abroad who are also seen on the Zandpad or elsewhere in the country when they drop off prostitutes at the prostitution areas.


The police sees the suspicion confirmed that a large segment of the women on the Zandpad work under force
The results confirm, given the short researched time span, the suspicion for the police that a substantial segment of the prostitutes are working forced. During the last eight months nine unique signals of human trafficking have been found on the Zandpad. One signal could involve multiple suspects and victims. Multiple cases are found, but only signals which could be confirmed with other information have been included. The fact that the analysis is not exhaustive, involves a short time span and that not all relevant information couldn’t be found in the systems, makes it likely for the police that the real situation is even worse. The police also indicates that it has no insight into a certain ‘dark number’. It stays difficult to bring abuses to light. Because of threats, fear of pimps, psychological state or distrust towards the police, prostitutes are often not capable to report the crime to the police or pass on information in a different way to the police about the abuses where they are victims of or have knowledge of.

Page 14:
The reliability of the image outlined above becomes bigger provided that above mentioned observations have been performed independently. The GG&GD indicates that the observations came about independently. The HAP and the clerical organizations until recently did have no contact with each other. Very recently they came together for the first time to talk about gearing activities to one another. The involved staff member of the GG&GD doesn’t hold consultation with the HAP about suspicions of compulsion and has other work periods than the clerical volunteers. is obviously an independent source anyway.

the other report:
Nulmeting prostitutiebeleid [Baseline measurement prostitution police (in Utrecht)] (November 2006, Afdeling Bestuursinformatie Sector Bestuurs- en Concernzaken Gemeente Utrecht. Writers: Jeroen van der Zweth, Geisje Hoetjes, Irene Boersema)

Page 4:
At a minimum 720 prostitutes working in Utrecht
It is estimated that currently at least 720 prostitutes are active in licensed prostitution. The total number of prostitutes in the city in 1999 was estimated at 350 women who were active in window prostitution, 70 in brothels, 70 in privé-huizen and 180 in street prostitution (GG&GD). It is not known how many women are working in erotic massage parlours. 477 prostitutes have been registered by the Tax Department in 2003. Of 49 of these prostitutes it is known that in the meantime they are not working on the Zandpad anymore, hereby we are left with 428 prostitutes on the Zandpad. On the Baan work some 150 [street] prostitutes with a license. When we add the earlier estimates of 70 in brothels and 70 in privé-huizen we then end up with approximately 720 prostitutes who are working in Utrecht in licensed prostitution, excluding the erotic massage parlours. Of the 150 prostitutes with a license on the Baan 50 reside in Utrecht. On the Baan some 35 to 40 prostitutes come per evening (GG&GD).

Page 6:
An estimated 50 to 95% involuntarily in prostitution
The police (department Commerciële Zeden [Commercial Vices]) estimates that between 50 and 85% of the prostitutes don’t do this work voluntarily. Prostitutes who reported the crime to the police even estimate this at 95%. Involuntariness in this case under force of a pimp, by debts or other circumstances. Also from other researches it turns out that the majority of the women end up forced (or out of necessity).

No comments: