Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Polish forced prostitute

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When I first started visiting prostitutes I wanted to know more about prostitution. I went to the library for books. One of the first books I read was ‘Ga je mee Schat?’ written by Henk Ruigrok & Bert Voskuil and published in 1998. It contains stories of 9 prostitutes. Most seem to be okay, although most don’t like their work. Two are addicted to drugs and work the streets. One story is of a prostitute who at first was forced to work in prostitution.

The story about Maria in the book ‘Ga je mee Schat?’ is a classical human trafficking story. Maria was in her early twenties when she was interviewed by Bert Voskuil in the brothel she then worked in. The writer Bert Voskuil meets her in a club in the north of the country. She is very cheerful and when a client comes she friendly asks him if he wants to go upstairs with her. He says ‘I’m married’. He accompanied a couple of friends who already went upstairs with prostitutes. She says that his wife won’t notice what they do together. Other girls tell Bert Voskuil that behind this happy façade there are many emotional scars.

She had no job in Poland, she was divorced and lived with her child in the home of her divorced mother, who was an alcoholic. An acquaintance offered her a job behind in a bar in the Netherlands which could earn her 100 guilders per evening. A taxi brought her to the Netherlands. The taxi driver was paid a 1000 guilders for that. Another Polish girl, who was also promised a job behind a bar, travelled with her. A Polish woman brought her and she directly wanted to have their passports. They travelled without pause to the Netherlands. She could sleep in the house of a disabled man, a Moroccan man, in Delft. The next day they were brought by two Moroccan helpers of the man to The Hague. They got new clothes and had to work there as prostitutes behind the window (brothel). She didn’t want to. She cried. She immediately wanted to go back to Poland, but they had taken everything away from them, also their passports.

They beat her. The disabled Moroccan said that if she didn’t do the work, he would shoot her dead. He put a gun against her head. Then he pointed to the water, on which the leaves drifted. And he said: “Then we throw you in that, then you will sink under those leaves and nobody will ever see you back.”

While crying she sat down behind the window. There was also another Russian girl there, who was the girlfriend of the disabled Moroccan. She told that they had to look into the rooms where other girls were busy with a client. They let the door ajar so they could see everything.

She forgot what happened that day. She didn’t know anymore who was the first client. She was forced to work until she had earned 800 to 1000 guilders per day. While she tells the story she gets red spots in her neck.

She never expected that anything like this could happen in her life. In Poland she once said to her female friends that the last thing she would do in her life was working as a prostitute.

The next day she had to work again. She didn’t want to. She then was beaten again. In a way that they didn’t get black eyes. The disabled Moroccan ordered once of his helpers to held her arms behind her body and then he beat her with a glass cola bottle on her belly. That hurt terribly. Then they were brought by the two Moroccan helpers to The Hague again. They again had to work again, until they had earned 800 to 1000 guilders. Sometimes it was 4 or 5 o’clock at night before they went home exhausted.

In the beginning she had the hope that she would get a lot of money for the work. The disabled Moroccan said he wrote down all their earnings and they he would pay out everything. He would only deduct the costs of living, the travelling costs and the money he spent for their work clothing. He never paid a cent. She never got money in her hands.

She said that the women traffickers made a lot of money from them. Aside from the Polish girl who travelled with her to the Netherlands, six other women worked for the gang. Among them was also the girlfriend of the disabled Moroccan, the Russian woman who also was forced to work behind a window. There also was a Dutch girl who slept in Delft. She was addicted to drugs. She got drugs from the Moroccan. But she had to work in prostitution for that.

Later two other Polish girls joined in. Then all the Polish girls were brought to Zoetermeer, where they were put into a different house. It was so dirty there that the mice crawled into their mattresses.

When they did something what wasn’t to the liking of the pimps, they got a beating or punishment. Then they had to sleep over in the little rooms (window brothels) in The Hague. She has worked in three different streets in The Hague. In the first street it was 25 guilders per fuck, in the second it cost 35 guilders and in the third it was 50 guilders. She didn’t know the names of the streets anymore, except for the Doubletstraat.

She did try to leave but she had no passport and no money to phone home. Sometimes she was crying behind the window (brothel). A Dutch young man came in to ask what was going on. She told her story as good as possible because she only spoke bad Dutch. The young man called the police who came looking. She hoped they would arrest her because she had no passport, but they didn’t do anything. They said they would come back next day, but then the Moroccans brought her to a different work address because they heard the police came by. The Dutch young man found her again but he had to pay money because the girls who worked in the windows surrounding her wrote on little cards precisely how long the clients stayed with her. And they knew exactly how much she must have earned.

She found the work terrible and did everything to get out. She befriended the Russian girlfriend of the disabled Moroccan but she was also beaten often. Maria persuaded the Russian girlfriend to give Maria her passport back. When she got it back she asked a Dutch girl who worked one floor lower if she wanted to call the police. The Dutch girl had to call three times before the police came. They took her to the police station. There she said she wanted to lodge a complaint and also said that she wanted to drive with them to the addresses in Delft and Zoetermeer. But the police said they were not in a hurry because they wanted to wait before a translator had been arranged. Only after three days she could show the addresses were they lived to the police. But these houses had already been emptied by the Moroccans.

The Dutch young man and his girlfriend came to visit her sometimes in the crisis centre, and he told that the police did arrest the disabled Moroccan man, but they let him free again because of lack of evidence. They only had her complaint. In the police station she also asked the other Polish girl (who had travelled with her to the Netherlands) to lodge a complaint but she didn’t dare to. Especially when she heard that a Moroccan man visited her mother in Poland to ask if Maria was home. Her mother said: “No, Maria is in the Netherlands.”

Maria was expelled from the Netherlands, but later returned to the Netherlands illegally and made the decision to work as a prostitute independently. She finds a club better because it is cozy with the other girls, but she still hates going upstairs with clients. While working in prostitution for herself she had a relationship with a criminal who took a lot of her money.

This story made a big impression on me. If was surely shocked. Nowadays I’m never shocked anymore by forced prostitution stories. They make me curious. Also while rereading this story. Has it really happened? The most special thing is that the handicapped Moroccan featuring in this book also see,s to show up in a book written by Sietske Altink called ‘dossier vrouwenhandel NL’ (1993), also known as ‘stolen lives’ (the English edition). A Yugoslav prostitute called Zarita in the book is threatened to be sold to a Moroccan who was handicapped. The same person? I believe at least the disabled Moroccan did exist and was a human trafficker. But it could be a coincidence. Perhaps there were two disabled Moroccan human traffickers.

As I stated earlier, 8 other prostitutes are also described in the book ‘Ga je mee schat?’. None of the other prostitutes have been coerced in prostitution. So, it seems that Maria’s story is the exception. However, two prostitutes described are heavy drug addicts who work the streets. The other prostitutes seem to be independent and in control. Only two in my opinion seem to like their work. One is Angelique, a young deaf woman. She goes with pleasure to the club. The first day she worked in the club she didn’t take an extra long shower like other girls do, she tells. She call the period in prostitution the happiest period in her life. She likes the attention and she is even paid for it! Another example is the 38-years old Joyce who works in her home. She receives a couple of client per week. She says that 2 of 4 clients really satisfy her personal feelings. These clients have women-friendly sex. They don’t just grab her from underneath, but they are soft and tender.

The other prostitutes are not so positive. The Finnish window prostitute Lisa tells that after her first client, she felt ‘very low’. She tells that in general that it would be better for a girl if they don’t start with this work. Lisa often feels sad, she thinks because of this work. She find the period when she works in prostitute as a big minus point in her life. She wants to forget this time. She wants to erase this period as if it never happened. It will always be her big secret.

Also the Carla, the brothel owner of the Chaplin club in Den Bosch is interviewed. She tells that she will never be happy in this business. She has also worked in prostitution. She tells that she was very lucky. When she hears the stories of other girls she often thinks how lucky her youth was. She was never molested. And she never was abused by family members like many other girls. She tells that many women with an inferiority complex do this work. They hear the whole night how beautiful they are. That’s good for their self confidence. If she has the impression that women are forced then she doesn’t allow them to work in her brothel. Sometimes she is offered women by what she calls ‘the mafia’. If she wants to buy girls. She always rejects such offers. And she helped some girls, she found out later that they were forced, to go into hiding. She had some troubles with that. At one point even a gun was held against her head when they wanted to let her say where such a girl was. But she refused. Also women came to her brothel together with their daughters. Then they ask Carla if their daughters can work in her brothel because they (the mothers) have big debts.

It is interesting to read through this book again. I hope it will scare me off to ever visit a prostitute again. It has been 2 months ago that I did. I hope it will be forever. I believe that I am forced to write about forced prostitution forever, every week. What I did last year was very wrong. I abused women. But it was also a period during which I wasn’t so busy anymore with reading about prostitution.

I forgot.

I must never forget how women are abused in prostitution. I must never forget the crime that prostitution is. That’s the reason I didn’t visit a prostitute for 5 years. Reading about prostitution scares you off. I must never visit a prostitute again.

Often I easily switch between being pro-prostitution and anti-prostitution. I want to be anti-prostitution forever. Let’s stay that way (and I drank beer).

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