Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Women for sale

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There's a new book out called vrouwen te koop written by Maria Genova, and published in 2011. It's a book written in the Dutch language. The title of the book means: women for sale. The book is not an eye-opener. But it lifts some tips of the veil. Maria Genova is a Bulgarian woman. So she can speak the Bulgarian language very well. She was able to speak to some Bulgarian window prostitutes. So I think I know a little more about Bulgarian prostitutes now.

A couple of years ago she wrote another book about prostitution. It was called man is stoer, vrouw is hoer (man is tough, woman is whore). In the book she describes her experiences with a Ukrainian woman who was married to a Turkish pimp. The Ukrainian woman didn't work in prostitution herself, but her husband had some Eastern European women who worked for him in window prostitution in the Netherlands. But initially, while migrating to the Netherlands, she did end up in the hands of human traffickers. When she arrived in the Netherlands she was locked up with the other women who travelled with her. A woman walked in and told them what working as a prostitute meant. They were taught their first Dutch sentence. It was: "pijpen, neuken, vijftig gulden", which means: "blowjob, fucking, fifty guilders". The woman told them that she was locked up herself for a month in the house of the boss. She said that you get used to the work. The women were supposed to work on the Achterdam in Alkmaar. The pimp arranged rooms there. Suddenly the pimp decided to sell them to German pimps, but he didn't know he was wiretapped by the police. The German pimps were going to look at the women. They had to undress to be inspected, and from other women she heard that dildos were tested on them. One girl told that she couldn't sleep the whole night, because her behind was stretched up badly, and she was raped in many positions. The day after they were rescued by the police. Later on, the Ukrainian woman met the Turkish pimp Imrat C whom she later married. That's a wholly different story. He had women working in Amsterdam and Alkmaar behind the windows. According to one prostitute he had twenty women working for him, that makes him a very big pimp, comparable to Saban B. I think I will tell about him in later posts.

Maria Genova delved deeper into the world of prostitution. So here we have a new book (women for sale). After her previous book was published, she received a lot of e-mails from victims of forced prostitution. She came into contact with a girl called Cindy (she is actually Sweetmizzy, who wrote extensively about the case on her website. I also write about her on my blog in this post: Two forced prostitutes on De Wallen. Chris Sent also writes about her on her blog in this blog post: Een prostituee kan niet de moeder van mijn kind zijn.). Two and a half years earlier she escaped from her pimp. He and his brothers were nearly all active as pimp on the Wallen in Amsterdam. She tells that when clients made trouble, she pushed on the alarm button. A couple of times she was rescued by Saban B. Saban was very cruel towards his girls. But for her and her pimp, he had respect. She believes that perhaps that is the case because the network of her pimp was just as large and violent (with respect to using guns). Cindy and the other girls called Saban "gorilla" because he was an anabolic steroid freak. She says: "when I called for his help, then most of the time he took the difficult client by his shoulders and easily put him down outside. Saban received a lot of attention in the media and was depicted as one of the most cruel pimps. The strange thing is that on the Wallen much bigger pimps walked around, whom Saban was clearly afraid of, but they were apparently never arrested. They often were these conspicuous types with big golden chains. Mind you that I didn't have the idea that the police could protect me. Sometimes I pushed the alarm button in my workroom and then it took twenty minutes before the cops came looking. Every now and then they didn't show up at all."

Cindy didn't have the idea that the police cared about her personal problems. She explains: "mind you that we were all girls of pimps. When the woman didn't have a pimp, then she was abused in another way. I estimate that 97% of all whores do this work out of sheer necessity. There are only a few who consciously choose for it. Personally I didn't see one who worked for herself. They say they did, but if you eavesdropped on their telephone conversations, you knew that it wasn't. I have seen girls that were so ripped up and wounded from underneath because of all the these rapes that their genitals were totally unrecognisable. I also got acquainted with women who were anally fucked to shreds in such a way, that they couldn't keep their crap inside. During busy periods you sometimes get fifteen clients in eight hours time. When you don't see yourself as a woman anymore, but as a piece of meat, then you are lost in the system."

When Cindy was asked to report her pimps to the police, she didn't have any idea how big this case was. She explains: "I tried to protect my ex the whole time. Only when I read back my testimony, it fell on its place. He had abused me just as well as other pimps abused their women. Only when I read it in black and white, I thought: I didn't experience it that way, but still it is true. He has exploited me for years and earned tons of money from me. That's perhaps the worst of trafficking in women: the pimps brainwash you long enough until you believe that you can do nothing else than this work and that it is actually your own choice."

Actually, she didn't plan to report her boyfriend to the police. She was summoned by the police to testify something about a couple of other pimps. She says: "the strange thing is that at that moment I didn't regard myself as a victim. I believe that there are a lot of victims who don't realise that, who push back their frontiers more and more to satisfy their man". But she knows why eventually she took him to court: because he took her baby away. She was able to save her second child, but emotionally she was very damaged.

She was forced by him to remove her first baby. She didn't want that. She fled to a shelter. Her boyfriend lured her to him with the story that he had thought about it and that they would buy clothes together for the baby. And then hell started again. He was very angry that she didn't work as a prostitute anymore and that she didn't earn money. Then he locked her up for a whole weekend. She didn't have any choice. She would have been transported to Morocco to abort the pregnancy in the last phase, if necessary.

Cindy was the only one who dared to report him to the police. Two other women who were exploited by the family also had to appear before the judge, but they testified under oath that they worked voluntarily and that they gave their earned money voluntarily to the men. Cindy explains that she has seen herself how these women were beaten and kept under control.

Maria Genova also met Frits Rouvoet. Since three years he helps prostitutes on the Wallen together with his sister-in-law. Frits wants to introduce her to three Bulgarian women who already work in prostitution for a while. Frits explains: "I dare to say that nearly all women do this work forced. Sometimes they come voluntarily, because golden mountains were promised, but those golden mountains all disappear into the pockets of the pimps." During the last years he saw an awful lot of misery. "Robin, a girl aged 21, for whom I was a sort of father figure, hanged herself after her escape. She couldn't cope with the fact that her pimps denied everything. Right before that, she had a talk with a psychologist who could do nothing with her emotions. She had to return to her room to cool down. She became cold for always."

Maria Genova and Frits walked to the place where the three Bulgarian women work. The women seem happy to see Frits. He tells them that Maria can speak the Bulgarian language. A Bulgarian prostitute called Roemjana tells that she doesn't do this work for fun, but it is better than to hold your hand up. She tells that in this work you learn a lot about life, but also about yourself. She never wants to be financially dependent anymore on a man. She would rather work a couple of years as a whore, then she will open her own business and then she can fend for herself. Maria asks if she has saved enough. Roemjana smiles. She finds it a difficult question. She must admit that she has underestimated it a little bit. To start working in prostitution is easier than to stop. You get easily used to the money and you get easily used to the job. And whether you work for a longer or a shorter while, you have a stigma anyway.

When Maria asks where they come from, the women suddenly clam up. They only name the province. Only later she learns why. It turns out that all three come from Sliven, a small city in the East of Bulgaria, known for its flourishing traffic in women. Roemjana and her friends assure her that in their case there is no coercion. They ask her how she could possibly believe that they would go to the Netherlands without preparation. Right at that moment, a girl knocks on the window. She is clearly a Roma gypsy. In broken Bulgarian she ask where she could ask for a room. Roemjana asks if she has the necessary papers. The girl says that she has a passport and asks if that isn't enough. The Bulgarian women are surprised. "A passport! You don't believe that is enough? You must have an address registration and also register at the Chamber of Commerce." The girl says that she has no money and asks how she must arrange this. The Bulgarian women answer: "what? How in God's name have you ended up here? Who made you believe that you could rent a room here just like that?" The girl enters the room. The girl is named Selma. Roemjana asks how Selma got here and why she has no money. Selma answers that she has spent her last money on a train ticket. A girlfriend told her that she could make a lot of money in the Netherlands in prostitution. They ask her how she wants to do that and where she sleeps. She sleeps on the street. "On the street? My God. How do you want to get an address registration?" Selma doesn't know. She met somebody here who told her that a window could also be arranged without registration.

Frits wants to offer Selma a place to stay. Roemjana says: "so you were right after all. Nice that you want to help her." Once outside, that turns out to be easier said than done. On the corner stands a man waiting for Selma. It seems that she didn't go to the Netherlands on her own. With a man she can't go to a shelter and she chooses to stay with him.

Maria Genova was phoned by a Bulgarian girlfriend. Velina discovered a hairdresser's saloon a hundred meters from the Achterdam in Alkmaar. The Achterdam is a red light district. This hairdresser's saloon is managed by Bulgarians, and all pimps and prostitutes come there as client. Velina proposes to Maria that she could go undercover there. Maria decides to do it and let her hair cut there. They meet a Bulgarian prostitute outside the hairdresser's saloon. They ask her if she earns a little. She answered that sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. She says she also moonlights in the hotel opposite the station. Maria says that prostitution isn't allowed in hotels. The prostitute says: "you don't believe that somebody checks that, hey? Only once, I had an extensive conversation with the police. It turned out they knew I had a Turkish pimp. The police offered me protection in exchange for reporting him to the police." Maria and Velina asked what happened then. "Nothing obviously. You don't believe that I will trust that they will protect me? I believe they don't know themselves whom they have to deal with. Those pimps are very powerful." The prostitute asks Velina from which city she comes. Velina comes from Sliven, the prostitute reacts with recognition. Velina says that in her city the pimps simply kidnap the girls on the street to bring them into prostitution. The prostitute wonders why they still kidnap the girls, don't they have enough women that they can simply make believe that you can become very rich in prostitution? Velina says that not so long ago, the 15-year-old daughter of a girlfriend disappeared. A week later she was found in a village in a house full of camera's. The girl was ready for departure to the Netherlands, all her documents were in order.

Maria goes into the hairdresser's saloon with Velina. A beautiful girl's hair is done, curls are put into her hair. A man walks around nervously in the saloon. He asks the girl when she is ready. In the Bulgarian language she answers: "you do want me to be beautiful?" He answers: "yes, but you're busy for such a long time. I lose my patience. You must go to work." When the girl is ready, the pimp pays the bill and they leave towards her workroom. Then Maria's hair is going to be done. Another girl takes place at another hairdresser. Dessi also works in prostitution. She says she doesn't do it for the fun of it. She knows no woman who does it for the fun of it. She says that you get used to the work and over time it goes into your blood.

At another occasion, Maria also comes into contact with a vice detective. He tells that he sees nearly all pimps - whom he brings to court - back in the red light district. The law prohibits him from actively observing them, even if he is almost certain that they are trafficking in women again. That's what the pimps also know, so they have free play. He has spoken with many hundreds of prostitutes. He suspects that between seventy and eighty percent is in one way or the other a victim of human trafficking. In the most extreme case they are maltreated daily, locked in and exploited. But there are also girls who don't realise that for their boyfriend it's all about the money and that this has nothing to do with love. When the girl is in prostitution long enough, they start to see it as a free choice, he explains.

Maria Genova also met a Bulgarian prostitute on the Wallen. She tells that she came to the Netherlands because her mother suddenly died and she had to leave the house. She has a child aged six and cannot see how without working in prostitution she can give her daughter a good future. She works very hard, in two shifts. She rents a room for €260 a day. Aside from that, she has to pay €1000 per month for the house where she sleeps. With confidence she says that she works without a pimp. A niece of her helped her to go to Amsterdam and to register at the Chamber of Commerce. Her niece has worked in forced prostitution for a while herself, that was a very sad story. Because her niece knew that she had no house, she offered her her help. She says that she has little contact with the new girls who come working here. If they are forced she believes they will tell nobody.

Maria Genova names a lot more examples in her book. It gives you a very bad impression about Dutch prostitution. I hope for a while this works for me. Good thing is that the weather is very bad. It is no fun to walk in a red light district while it is cold and raining. If you must believe the experiences of Maria, then there is no voluntarily prostitute. Either way they are coerced to do this, and if they aren't they hate their job. I hope that I have learned my lesson. But I am very forgetful. I have to learn again and again. I hope I get serious.

1 comment:

Mark van der Beer said...

The story of Cindy I've heard before, but I'm pretty sure she's a liar. She's way to agressive, and never goes into any details. All of the things she told the court either doesn't make any sense story-wise, or is just false. Too bad the court doesn't know enough about how stuff works when working behind the windows, else they could've spotted these issues.

Frits his story in here however is very true to how things are like. The things are very recognizable for me, and the story does delve into the details (unlike Cindy her story) of working behind the window, even though it's only being told to them.

Overall Maria's story may be true, but perhaps she's seeing things different sometimes than they really are, or people are lying to her, like Cindy for example.

Don't try to forget that even if Maria finds 10 girls that where forced. Every year 50 girls stop this job in the Red Light. Prostitution has been regulated since 2000, that's 13 years now already. That would mean that there are about 650 ex-prostitutes out there.
If there are 10 girls that are forced, that would be 1.5% of all the girls that have quit their jobs in the past 13 years! That's not very much.

If it really would happen as much as people suggest it would, we would've had our hands full on victims going to court. The fact that only a few have done so, is simple because there are just few girls who are being forced.
And because the media is so interested in this, the police are taking this as a high priority, and therefore these girls dominate the news above the girls who are not forced.
Look at it like this. In the past 10 years, less people have reported stolen things at the police. Does that mean less things get stolen? Or that less people go to the police to report it?