Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vulnerable profession

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The report Kwetsbaar beroep - Een onderzoek naar de prostitutiebranche in Amsterdam [Vulnerable profession - a research into the prostitution branch in Amsterdam] (Bureau Beke, 2010) just entered my mailbox and I read some pages quickly. I must conclude that the world is still a bad place. The book is kind of boring, with lots of numbers, facts and figures. I think the researchers couldn't find other information. But the positive side is, the books smells really good! Really new. (Actually, you can download the whole report: here)

About pimps on De Wallen (page 165), this piece is very interesting, so for now a direct unofficial translation:
On De Wallen there is virtually no prostitute who works without a pimp, at least that's what several interviewed respondents say, police as well as social work and the prostitutes themselves. The pimps can offer the prostitutes protection and share in the profits. The last thing isn't necessarily illegal, provided that the prostitute can decide this in full freedom. From interviews with prostitutes it emerges that strictly speaking nothing is necessarily wrong with pimps. They can arrange things for the prostitutes and act in the ways of a manager. A pimp in their experience is comparable to a boss from the normal business life. A number of prostitutes previously have also worked for a pimp, but can fend for themselves just fine now. Some admit that they still have 'a boyfriend', but according to the prostitutes themselves you can not speak of coercion or involuntariness. They decide for themselves when, where and how long they work. About their colleague-prostitutes on De Wallen, they say that 90 percent work for a pimp to whom they have to hand over a large part of their income (after deduction of the window rent half of the revenue). When prostitutes don't want to work for a pimp, these men sabotage the entry of customers by simply standing in front of the door permanently. This way they force the women into paying 'protection'. There is also a group of prostitutes on De Wallen of whom many respondents say that they work completely independently, without a pimp. This involves transsexuals and South Americans who work in the Bloedsteeg. These are prostitutes who in the view of a respondent 'don't let themselves be forced'. They work here in prostitutes for years.
So to summarize: prostitutes are still blackmailed on De Wallen. What I also read is that the Singel area (Oude Nieuwstraat and surroundings) is not so good at all (page 166). Many Eastern Europeans do work there. Actually I saw that with my own eyes, so the idea that only older women work there is not completely right, only on average. According to the people interviewed by the researchers pimps collect the women in the Singel area in big BMW's and bring them to De Wallen. This is another mirage of mine which is shattered (I actually visited two prostitutes there recently).

Now, The Scharlaken Koord survey among 202 window prostitutes:
The reason for staying in prostitution
table 10.3 page 193
102 (95%) For the money
3 (2%) Likes the work
8 (4%) For the attention
1 (0.5%) For the thrill
41 (20%) The step is emotionally too big
16 (8%) Is coerced
43 (21%) No education
123 (61%) No alternative
157 (78%) Don't speak Dutch
70 (35%) No knowledge about the Netherlands
106 (53%) Not allowed to do other work

One more note: the researchers only interviewed a handful of prostitutes in depth: 8, in the Singel area. Come on, that's no thorough research! Why not interview a hundred prostitutes? The prostitutes interviewed are from the Dominican Republic (1), Ghana (2), the Netherlands (2), Romania (2) and the Ukraine (1).

Oh, and I wanted to say that another book has entered my mailbox: Beminnen als beroep - Mijn carrière als courtisane [making love as a profession - my career as a courtisane] (2010) written by Roos Bachelier. She also did a radio interview radio 1. She told that forced prostitution doesn't affect more prostitutes than 5%. And she really loved her work. She catered to rich men in club Mayfair in The Hague (I have been there too!). Mainly drugs barons by the way.

I now have read the first part of the book where she went to prostitution-training in an amateur club together with her female friend and her friend's boyfriend! They had paid sex with several guys there and the boyfriend acted as their pimp.

(Oh oops, I really start to believe that I'm becoming criminally insane! Don't know what to believe anymore with all these happy hookers and sad prostitutes passing by! But I'm glad as a prostitutor that at least one woman seems to be happy allowing her body and person to be degraded in such a way. Ooohhhh, I'm just jealous, I can't stand it when women have sex with other guys than me!)

Stay tuned.

UPDATE:
While reading through the book ('Kwetsbaar Beroep') some more I read some more flabbergasting facts:
-(on page 20) The Police people of the Beursstraat (near the Wallen) registered from mid 2007 through May 2009 a total of 670 window prostitutes and 208 men whom the police refer to as persons who commit violence (geweldplegers). These men directly or indirectly surfaced in cases of trafficking in women. Well, I hope that the police is just thoroughly wrong and just prejudiced! If they are right this could hint at a ratio of 3 evil pimps for every 10 prostitutes on the Wallen.
-Another fact. The writers of the book estimate that prostitutes work 4 shifts per week on the Wallen (on page 67). One shift takes approximately 8 hours. That means a 32 hour working week. And in my opinion this contradicts the notion that many prostitutes are forced, because wouldn't they work much longer then?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wallen still a bad place?

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Bureau Beke came out with a new report about the prostitution situation in Amsterdam. It's called something like 'vulnerable profession' (Kwetsbaar Beroep) and the whole report can be downloaded here. I ordered the full report and I'm still waiting for it.

Regarding forced prostitution, they conclude (from the interviews they did with prostitutes, police people and social workers) that nearly all prostitutes on de Wallen still work with pimps. Other window prostitution areas in Amsterdam are less affected, as well as the clubs etc....

Also, they conclude that the window brothel operators have a lot of power and can demand very high rents from the women. Too high.

They also refer to a survey among prostitutes largely on de Wallen done by the Christian organisation Het Scharlaken Koord (Scarlet Cord) where 8% of the prostitutes indicate that they are coerced to do this work.

So, all in all .....

nothing has changed ......

No improvements......

Nothing .....

Should I be happy or should I be sad.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Romanian girl

Main

I have been so focussed on forced prostitution I ignored more or less the more positive stories about prostitutes.

In the Dutch ladies' magazine 'Vriendin' (6-12 October, Nr. 40, 2010) there's one such story. It's in the 'hartsverhaal' (heart's story) section and called 'mijn familie denkt nog steeds dat ik in een hotel werk" [my family still thinks I work in a hotel].

A Romanian girl tells she went to Amsterdam with the intention of working in prostitution here. She was 19 at the time. She earned a lot of money in Romania already, that is 300 Euro per month. But she couldn't maintain her family with that, her family members earned a lot less.

Together with a 'boyfriend' she decidedly went to Amsterdam. She had heard that prostitution was normal there, and she could find work there. The 'boyfriend' she knew vaguely. He told that he wanted to let women work for him and that he wanted to try in the Netherlands. That's why she said she wanted to work for him in Amsterdam. But she said that obviously she left him immediately after arriving in Amsterdam because she knew better than allowing him to earn money from her. At first she started in a webcam studio, but this didn't earn enough for her so she started to work as a callgirl on top of that. The studio owner didn't want prostitutes in his company so she was kicked out.

She said that especially out of curiosity she entered prostitution. She had had one boyfriend but he was very religious and didn't want to have sex before marriage. At the age of 18 she more or less forced him to have sex with her. After this, she was curious and started to explore more possibilities. The fact that she could make money from it fascinated her.

All in all this seems to be a more positive story. She isn't forced to do it, likes her work and gets the money herself. But there are some negative aspects too. Most clients are nice men who merely want attention. But there are some bastards among them who don't treat her with respect and think they can do anything, who want rough sex like in a porn video [=sex work film]. Especially the first escort agency she worked for sent her to clients like that. Now she works for an agency who screens the clients better. She works 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. She never rejects reservations.

Another negative aspect is that she can't have a boyfriend anymore, because in her opinion no man lets his wife or girlfriend earn money in prostitution. She doesn't want to hang out with other prostitutes, and as a matter of fact, she only has one (female) friend in the Netherlands and her prostitution clients. The men she meets are very normal guys, often on transit and a bit lonely, searching for love and a caring woman. Every now and then she enjoys it herself. She has had between 800 and a 1000 clients.

Aside from some negative sides, I hope that the situation of this girl reflects the situation of other Romanian prostitutes in the Netherlands.

(Or actually I do not! Women can't possibly enjoy sex can't they?)

Now that I visit prostitutes again nowadays I'm forced to show more light on the positive sides. Perhaps I will. But I will keep an eye on the dark side too.