Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Loverboys don't exist


There's an interesting radio-interview of Marion van San by Andries Knevel on radio 1 (May 12th 2010).

Marion van San was the one who participated in the research about loverboys in Amsterdam together with Frank Bovenkerk and others ('Loverboys' of modern pooierschap in Amsterdam, 2004). The research concluded that loverboys as they were portrayed in the media didn't exist.

So what's a loverboy in Dutch? A young beautiful man who uses romantic manipulation to lure a young women or girl in prostitution, and who gives presents while doing that and who drives in a flashy car. In reality, according to the research, these 'loverboys' are cool-blooded ugly mugs who use violence to force women in prostitution. And also, according to the researchers it is impossible for prostitutes to work without a man because otherwise you will be extorted by other pimps.

Now Marion van San gives some more very interesting information about the research. She tells that she and others interviewed the Dutch women on de Wallen in Amsterdam. She noticed that when she asked how the women got there the women often said: because of a 'loverboy'. She explains that Het Scharlaken Koord (Scarlet Cord), a Christian organisation, hands out leaflets among the women which to warn them about the so-called 'loverboys', a stereotype which is happily adopted by the prostitutes. But this stereotype is wrong. She noticed that also women who started working prostitution independently and then met their boyfriend called him their 'loverboys', that is according to Marion van San 'the world on its head!'. Also she notices that when the prince starts a relationship with another prostitute the women report their boyfriend to the police as a 'loverboy', that is also often a reason why prostitutes denounce their boyfriend. And then when the women denounce their boyfriend to the police, they tend to frame that relationship as a stereotypical relationship between a prostitute and her loverboy like they read it in the leaflets. And also, loverboys rarely give presents to prostitutes. Often prostitutes give presents to their boyfriends because they hope he will stay with them that way.

Presenter Andries Knevel and a(n unidentified) social worker (probaby co-presenter Michiel Gouman) who were also in the studio pointed out to her what difference it makes if we called the loverboys modern pimps like she proposes. You would just put a new label on the same evil person. I wholly agree with that. The (what seems to be a) social worker said he met girls who told such stories. Marion van San replied that you should watch out to go along with the stories of the girls. Many girls play an active role in their own prostitution, and it is difficult to control a person 24 hours a day. And social workers should watch out to push the girls into the victim-role. She also believes that the hype surrounding loverboys is also caused by the fact that it are often immigrant men who exploit 'our' women, so perhaps there's a racist background in it.

All in all, what Marion van San tells confuses me. On the one hand, she supports the idea that there's something terribly wrong in the RLD of Amsterdam where prostitutes are brutally exploited by pimps. On the other hand, she suggest that it is the pimps who are victims of prostitutes because the prostitutes manipulate them by giving them presents and then denounce them as loverboys if the pimp leaves the prostitute for another.

What Marion van San says is more or less confirmed by Karl Hammer Kaatee in the book Ik ben geen kind meer (I am no child anymore) published in 2008. He says (on page 54) he was born on de Wallen (in 1959) and that he spent a large segment of his youth in the nightlife of the city. He can assure everybody that already then girls were being recruited. He doesn't want to explain away everything and he believes that undoubtly there are girls who really are forced to work in prostitution. On the other hand he knows that there were enough whores in the past who often screamed and wept that they were forced (often after they were apprehended by the police, or were in a row with their pimp), while in reality they chose for 'the profession'.

Lately, after the unmasking, I wonder if indeed prostitutes who say they are forced just tell a lie like some people believe, and that in reality human traffickers are just nice people who help the prostitutes out. At first the thought about it looks terribly, how could you just deny such a heart-wrenching story. On the other hand, it would solve a difficult paradox: how come that when researchers go out into the field that they find so few women who tell they are forced to work in prostitution, while according to some testimonies of prostitutes and also field workers they should be all over the place? Perhaps it's like using Ockham's razor, what is the most simple explanation? That all prostitutes who tell they are forced lie, for whatever reason.

(PS: I'm very stubborn. I still believe human trafficking is real, although as a prostitutor I shouldn't)


Anonymous said...

Have you read this article:

Donkey said...

Now I did!