Saturday, June 02, 2012

Dina Siegel

A couple of months ago, the police in Eindhoven raided the Baekelandplein, a window prostitution area. They closed off the square and interrogated 44 prostitutes. 300 policemen raided the area. Some arrests were made. I believe this is not the right way to liberate women who are forced in prostitution. A similar action was done some time ago in Den Haag, in the Doubletstraat. All the prostitutes who were interrogated said they worked voluntarily in prostitution. I believe that either way this is because the prostitutes are too afraid of their pimps, or they are very loyal towards their pimps. Often they are in love with their pimps, and obviously you don't cheat on your boyfriend. Human traffickers often make threats to the women, for instance to kill their loved ones, or to publish nude pictures, or to use violence of some sort. I believe that if you want to liberate a forced prostitute, then you have to take time. You must slowly win her trust.
But this post is not about the Baeklandplein. It is about someone else. Suddenly she popped up. Guess who?

Dina Siegel!

She did some radio interviews, and I will offer translations of what she has said. It is quite astonishing.

I know about her work. She has interviewed some Russian speaking prostitutes, in the Netherlands and in Turkey. I mention her here, in this post:

In this post I refer to a chapter written by her in the book Transnational Crime [2005], edited by Jay Albanese, see the chapter: "women trafficking and voluntary prostitution: Russian-speaking sex-workers in the Netherlands" (page 4-23) by Dina Siegel.

What she says contradicts nearly all information that I gathered about Eastern European prostitutes in the Netherlands. Nearly always you read or hear that Eastern European prostitutes are exploited or extorted by pimps. The Eastern European prostitutes often know that they will work in prostitution in the Netherlands, but they end up in dire straits anyway. Dina Siegel has interviewed dozens of Russian speaking prostitutes, and she doesn't confirm anything about this grim image. On the contrary, the women she interviewed were very independent. These women even had tricks to scare off the real human traffickers, by saying to the human traffickers that they are controlled by really nasty Eastern European criminal gangs.

It is difficult to explain her really contradictory finding. One explanation is that she somehow has interviewed only the independent Eastern European prostitutes. Prostitutes don't come falling from the clear blue sky. You have to approach them first. I can imagine, that if you find a prostitute and you make an appointment with her to speak with her in a cafe or something, then it is very likely that you are unwittingly filtering out the forced prostitutes, because forced prostitutes simply don't have the time to speak to you. They have to work after all in the meantime!!! I know that Dina Siegel makes use of the snowball method. This goes as follows: you ask a person you have interviewed to find another person for you whom you can interview. I think this also could explain why she only finds relatively independent prostitutes. I can imagine that voluntary prostitutes move largely within their own circles, being unaware of involuntary prostitutes. And if they do know involuntary prostitutes, they obviously don't refer the researcher to them. In her research she speaks about in the book I mentioned, she also didn't interview window prostitutes, but escort prostitutes who work in the illegal sector. Window prostitutes are often known to be forced in prostitution much more often, compared to prostitutes who work in other sectors.

During the last few years, Dina Siegel, together with others, went to Eastern European countries, like Romania and Bulgaria, and interviewed prostitutes who have worked in Western Europe. She has also interviewed children about their future plans (it turns out that many want to work in prostitution when they are old enough). And again, she doesn't find anything about the horror stories that you so often hear. It is true that the prostitutes need recruiters to come here, and it is true that they have to hand over some of their earnings to these recruiters, but the women don't feel themselves as being exploited at all.

I have another explanation why Dina Siegel finds something so completely different. She has a different opinion of what is forced and what is voluntarily. She emphasises what the girls say themselves about what is voluntarily and what is forced. I believe her opinion is similar to that of Laura Agustín. I have followed the website of Laura Agustín for several years (, and what I understand from her is that she is of the opinion that you must always respect the decision of a person, how horrible the result of the decision may seem from the outside. So, if a woman decides to work in prostitution, and then ends up in a situation of horrible sexual exploitation, then you must respect her decision. Feeling pity for her is supposed to be belittling towards her. The point is, that it turns out that indeed many forced prostitutes don't seem to realise their exploitative situation. For instance, they could be of the opinion that they have a real genuine romantic relationship with their boyfriend, and give all the money they earn to their boyfriend, not realising that for him it is all about the money. Sometimes these women blame the violence directed towards them on themselves. You also often see that pimps play tricks on the women, making them believe that they have to pay off a virtual debt. These women indeed often are of the opinion that they have a duty to pay off these debts. But is this voluntary? I believe that a person can still be exploited and oppressed, while the same person doesn't experience it that way. For instance, I'm sure that many women in Saudi Arabia support the system which oppresses them (strict sharia law), while at the same time we still believe as Westerners that they are exploited. It is often true that many people who are oppressed support the system which oppresses them. That's the tragic thing of it all. I do pity people are exploited! And I don't agree with Dina Siegel and Laura Agustín!

Dina Siegel held a speech before Studium Generale of the University of Utrecht (October 26,2011). She explains her research of the last few years. You can find her speech here:

There are three topics which she researched:
1. Nigerian prostitutes.
2. Prostitutes from the city of Sliven in Bulgaria.
3. Roma gypsy prostitutes.

I want to write about this speech later on my blog. She says something about 11-year-old girls who prostitutes themselves on the streets of some Eastern European countries. She talks about Roma gypsy families in which boys are predestined to become robbers, and girls are predestined to become prostitutes. Roma gypsy mothers even train their young minor daughters to become prostitutes later. Houses are built with the money earned from theft and prostitution. She also talks about Nigerian women who bring their daughters to recruiters so that they can earn money in Europe for the family.

After the raid on the Baekelandplein Dina Siegel appeared on some radio shows, I will give an exact representation of what she has said. I will translate it into English, and also show the original Dutch transcriptions I have made. Here again, she denies that forced prostitution is really such a big problem. I hope she is right. It would be absolutely wonderful if a problem that we thought existed on a fairly large scale didn't exist on a large-scale after all! But I'm afraid she is wrong.

Now, for some transcriptions of what she said.

Here you can find the source(s) of one radio interview which is an interview by Felix Meurders for (VARA, March the 18th 2012):

In the above link there is also a Dutch text which contains some commentary by Dina Siegel, which does not appear in the radio interview. Here is the translation of the text:
Last weekend there was a police action in the red light district of Eindhoven. As many as 300 police agents stormed the cubicles and took 44 prostitutes with them. With the action the police wants to come to grips with organised crime which is supposedly pulling the strings in this area. Professor of criminology Dina Siegel has big doubts if organised crime is involved in prostitution. "Most girls come voluntarily. Eastern European girls especially come to become financially better off it. Western Europe is a dream where they can make money, with which they can maintain their families in their own country."

Siegel is unhappy about the Dutch approach against violence, exploitation and human trafficking in prostitution. "The problem is presented in a wrong way: there is being spoken in terms of criminal organisations, violence and exploitation, but these don't fit in the reality of prostitution. Prostitution is legalised, and we have to deal with that in a nuanced way, and not black-white like it happens is now. Take De Wallen, the knowledge of what happens there is very small. They are talking about general organised crime, but they know nothing about it, also not about who the victims are then: there are no large numbers of charges pressed, and the alleged perpetrators are not prosecuted. That organised crime is behind it has never been proven."

"The question however is which problem you want to tackle. Prostitution is named here in one breath with human trafficking, where a difference in nuance is overlooked. I have been doing research into human trafficking for years, and what I observe is that Eastern European girls especially come here to become financially better off it. Western Europe is a dream where they can make money, with which they can maintain their families in their own country. Many of these girls go voluntarily, and have already gained experience in their own country in prostitution. Look at De Wallen: most girls there are voluntarily there, and then I don't speak only about Eastern European girls. Exploitation and deception aren't relevant in this situation of these days." Siegel has spoken with Romanian and Bulgarian girls. "They dream of making money in the Netherlands. These girls provide a contribution to their families, they don't do that under pressure per se, but from a sort of family feeling."
And here is the transcription of the radio interview, translated from Dutch into English:
[Introduction by unknown person: Friday evening eight o'clock, the police enters the Baekelandplein in Eindhoven and seals it off hermetically. The 44 prostitutes are transported in buses to the city hall, and interrogated. The suspicion is that they are the victim of human trafficking and exploitation. [Rob van Gijzel:] "and we have a strong indication that half of the women who must work there or who work there, that half of them must work."]
[Newsreader: mayor Rob van Gijzel at Omroep Brabant, where he justifies the large-scale combing out of a prostitution area. As many as 300 policemen stormed the little cubicles and brought 44 prostitutes along with them. Goal: to protect these same prostitutes against exploitation and to come to grips with organised crime which is supposedly pulling the strings in this area. Does the end justify the means and what does it yield. I talk about this with professor of criminology Dina Siegel of the University of Utrecht. Miss Dina Siegel, good morning.] Good morning. [Newsreader: during the action I believe six people have been apprehended in the end. Is that a satisfactory result for such a large-scale action, you believe?] Yes, I don't know, I know that if you perform such a large action, then you have to be well informed in advance about those specific six persons, so you must have good information. And when you have that, why must you attack so many other people in such a case? [Newsreader: why would such an action be performed?] Ehm, I believe that it was more like a sort of signal, and then I assume that indeed good information came in. [Newsreader: yes.] Especially from Eastern Europe, because we hear that most prostitutes at this moment come from Eastern Europe and Nigeria. And a signal to those partners in those other countries, in Eastern Europe, that the police does something here with this information. [Newsreader: because the Eastern Europeans give information to the Netherlands and ultimately something is done with it.] Well, when I hear that the euh, there are strong indications for such an action, then I assume that good information came in. And then you have to do something with it, and then the signal towards the partners is a continuation of a good cooperation within a general European approach of organised crime, human trafficking, that the Dutch police is capable to take part in such an action, in such an approach. [Newsreader: and according to the authorities of Eindhoven such an action eventually yields insights about the networks behind prostitution.] Networks, well that goes... [Newsreader: organised crime then.] Yes, organised crime is seen at this moment as networks, some 20 years ago it was seen as a sort of pyramidal hierarchic structure, a sort of mafia-like with a Godfather at the top, (she mumbles something like: 'hardly changed'). I have big doubts if organised crime is involved in prostitution. [Newsreader: well, the funny thing is also that people who have been apprehended have often been apprehended for something completely different, those six men, they were, they had partly too much money in their pockets, or they had drugs at their disposal. So the question remains if they are part of a network, and so you put question marks on that, and why actually?] Euh, I don't know, euh, nothing about drugs, it was about human trafficking. [Newsreader: no, no, in general about this organised crime in prostitution.] Organised crime is nowadays seen in connection with drugs criminality, with human trafficking, there has been a long list which has been drawn up by the United Nations of, of the modern activities of organised crime. If this action in Eindhoven had something to do with organised crime, we have no information about that. I assume that the police was very well informed about certain persons, but then the question arises, obviously, why all prostitutes? Why all people who were involved?... [Newsreader: well, I just heard the mayor say: 50% of the prostitutes there, they work against their liking, they must work there he literally said.] And that is the big problem, that human trafficking has become a synonym of prostitution. And we forget that prostitution is a legal profession, and we know very little about the backgrounds and the involvement of organised crime in prostitution. The best example is obviously De Wallen where there is still a shortage of information, insights and empirical data about the involvement of organised crime. [Newsreader: about De Wallen still not enough?] No, that is still about suspicions, that is about what is said by Lodewijk Asscher: criminogenic aspects, whatever this could be, within criminology we don't know this concept really, and criminality is one of the factors of prostitution, but we don't have solid facts and good empirical knowledge. [Newsreader: but you have done a lot of research regarding this, you have spoken with girls, and you are not so convinced of the coercion.] No, we have done research, I have done research in the countries of origin of the girls, in Romania and Bulgaria, I have spoken with the girls myself, and when I hear Lodewijk Asscher say: "I don't believe that 18-year-old girls from Hungary come to the Netherlands voluntarily", then I say, he must set off to Hungary, or to Romania and Bulgaria, and talk with the girls. It is really true that girls view work in prostitution in the Netherlands, Western Europe in general, as a very attractive thing. They want to come to the Netherlands, make money quickly because they don't want to be so long and so deeply in poverty or in a desperate situation in their own country. [Newsreader: do you really mean that?] Yes, it is about economic factors, and the girls then we also have then euh then we also have had conversations with the police and with the judiciary and with organisations of social work for example in Bulgaria, and they all say that it has become a sort of fashion for young people (to come) to Western Europe, to the Netherlands. [Newsreader: there are no pimps involved in this, there are no human traffickers involved in this?] Yes, that is a different question, what are the modern pimps, he? These are very many, look, human trafficking and prostitution is a very complex phenomenon. There also have been researches into loverboys, I believe that that is really a modern form of a pimp. Human traffickers are seen by the girls themselves in these countries not a something negative. They see it as a helper to come to the country, a sort of agent who arranges everything for them to go from Hungary... [Newsreader: making money for the family, and doesn't the family put them under pressure?] Sometimes they do, sometimes they do. [Newsreader: do you have still income for us to gather?] Yes. [Newsreader: then it is against their will isn't it?] Yes, sometimes it is, but this is related to cultural aspects, social aspects of certain ethnic groups, we are talking here about certain ethnic minorities in these countries... [Newsreader: such as?] Such as Roma. And girls and young women see it as a sort of family duty to contribute to the shared income of the whole clan, the whole family. And then they are willing to sacrifice themselves to work in prostitution for a short while, especially behind the windows, Hungarian women who (work) here, mostly are Roma girls, and shared money is invested in euh for example euh... [Newsreader: but so they do this because their family demands it.] Or because of their own feeling of commitment, that's what we don't know obviously, we always tend to negative images, we don't think in the perceptions of the women themselves. Just like we say exploitation, coercion here, these are our Western perceptions, we think that the women also think that, but when you start a conversation with the girls then they have different images. Yes, perhaps this is exploitation in our terms, in our perceptions, but they see it as a quick way to make money. [Newsreader: well, if it is made compulsory by the family, or, or yes, perhaps that they think, it is just a part of it, then we must do it, then it isn't trafficking anyway. Girls, you say, are for a large part voluntarily here, at least if they come from there.] Yes, only, there is actually a problem and I have named this a short while ago, of loverboys, I think that is related to what I call relationships-addiction, that they, they are dependent on certain feelings of certain, relational connection with these boys, and there I see a sort of mental coercion, but most women who come here these are voluntary sex workers... [Newsreader: and there is no evidence of organised crime.] And no evidence of organised crime, but perhaps .. [Newsreader: but I just go back to Amsterdam once more, the sweeping clean of De Wallen, this yielded the Gonsalvesprijs for the city. And minister Opstelten called the Wallen-project an effective approach towards organised crime. There we have it again he? The organised crime.] Yes, yes. [Newsreader: is Opstelten talking out of the back of his neck then?] Well, then, my question to Opstelten is: which organised crime, who are the organised criminals, where do they come from, what are the motives, what are they doing, let us show these facts, not only suspicions, and when there are strong indications however, well then we also have to see and feel, not only the general image of that all women are victims of human trafficking and all that, you have to tackle this in a different way. We have no knowledge, we have no empirical data about organised crime on De Wallen, and this seems to me a little bit of abstract terms what we also hear from Opstelten. [Newsreader: so hunting for organised crime is also not useful at all.] Organised crime is... [Newsreader: in this case he?] Yes, in this case it isn't. Organised crime does exist, only, you must actually find concrete people behind this abstract concept of organised crime. Who are the networks, what do they do here, why do they come to the Netherlands, what is so attractive in the Netherlands, that is what you have to understand first to make up an approach or euh policy. [Newsreader: we actually still know way too little.] Very little. [Newsreader: but, of what you do know, what you have heard from the girls yourself, in the M-O-E countries, in Middle and Eastern Europe.] MOE countries this is called. [Yes, I just tell it. Then, then, of this you say yes, they are not coerced, at the very most by their family, but even this we don't know.] Even this we don't know, there are much less... more causes and reasons to come to the Netherlands, and to end up in this profession, than coercion and exploitation. [Newsreader: Dina Siegel, professor of criminology on the University of Utrecht, about the - in her eyes - almost useless actions against prostitution.]
She also showed up in a second radio show, probably on Omroep Brabant (March 28, 2012), here is the source:

And here is the transcription translated from Dutch into English:
Well, without knowing all the details, I assume that the police had good information about those perpetrators whom they have dealt with, and that also this information played the biggest role in such a big action. If it is necessary based on suspicions that there is human trafficking taking place in the prostitution branch in Eindhoven, yes, it is prostitution and human trafficking are being viewed as synonyms nowadays, which is not correct in my perception. [Newsreader: which is not correct you say.] No. [Newsreader: no, no, because euh yes, that is the image that we have after all, what has also been expressed by the mayor amongst others, mayor van Gijzel, who says like yes, half of the ladies who work there on the Baekelandplein, yes, there is somewhere something wrong with it, there is something like women trafficking attached to this.] Well, I don't know on what he bases these utterances, because we in criminology don't know enough about the use of violence or coercion or exploitation. Euhm, on the other hand we do research, I do lots of research in Eastern European countries, and I know that there is almost no question of coercion, and it is voluntary prostitution. Women come to the Netherlands to make money quickly, and they come here to escape from poverty in their own country, they want to be left alone here. So it doesn't fit with that information and the data which we have collected in our research. Euhm, I don't believe that 50% of all women who work in prostitution are victims of human trafficking. [Newsreader: no well yes, the mayor was talking about the Baekelandplein, and he says like yes, we have established there actually that euh, yes, that there is something like criminal group practices behind it, internationally operating gangs, where would that image, because you say like well euh, these girls euh, so euh, to my research, from my research it emerges that, those girls they work their actually voluntarily for the largest part, where would that image come from then?] Yes, it is a bit of an oversimplified imaged which arose during the last years, and certainly after these big actions which now take place on De Wallen in Amsterdam for example, but also there (in Amsterdam - Donkey) there is being talked about so-called criminogenic aspects, and it isn't about hard facts or euh, real knowledge, real information about organised crime, and what we know from criminological research abroad, is that organised crime is a very abstract concept, and, and then we must have many more details, much more data per individual case to draw such, euh, such a far-reaching conclusion, and also to make up an approach. [Newsreader: yes, you say it must be viewed per case, but the general image that there are criminal organisations active in this sector, the prostitution sector, is that correct?] Also not true, at least from the research that we do, or, in which I am involved in. It is actually known that economic necessity plays a big role at this moment, that a big gap between the economic situation in Eastern Europe, in Nigeria, in South America, and Western Europe, so it is attractive for the women to come to the Netherlands. The income that they receive here they invest this in their own country. They try in such a way to arrange their life, support their parents, to bring their own children to good schools. We also see that houses are being built. So I don't know why ehm, yes, it still is so much seen in connection with, with human trafficking, with exploitation. It obviously is true that there were a couple of big cases, the notorious Sneep-case which probably provided the reason for such a generalisation, and stigmatisation of this, actually a legal profession, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands. [Newsreader: what would you advise the mayor of Eindhoven?] I would advise to do an in-depth research, also with a collaboration of police and judiciary, and also researchers, perhaps of criminological research or judiciary search, also from the background countries of the women, to be sure that the women came involuntarily, that there is coercion, that violence is being used. And don't treat everybody based on suspicions only, or a risk group, only that perhaps they are forced to work in prostitution. [Newsreader: yes, perhaps if I hear you like this, this can be done - as far as you are concerned - also without these kind of large raids.] Yes, that's what I believe.
There was also a short video interview. The link is here:

And here is a translation of what she says:
Prostitution is seen as a sort of 'social service' he? It isn't seen as something very bad euh bad he? So not a fallen women, and not as in the past it is seen. Everybody also understands that the bad economic situation, desperate situation, especially on the countryside in these countries, and attraction of the Western world, play a big role.

[Newsreader: for Siegel the action is one big question mark.]

It is not based on facts. Look, we do research in the countries he? We talk with the girls in Romania, in Bulgaria, and we know that at this moment also other aspects play a big role, not only coercion and not only poverty that is always named.


We also see these girls who are no victims at all, or at least, they don't feel themselves as being exploited, they don't feel a victim, that is a big difference obviously.


And that there are abuses, that's what I also don't deny, but these are abuses which are connected to violence, or with relational problems, that happens everywhere, in all branches, in all, well, all families [laughs] or euh, it also happens behind closed doors, at bona fide companies and families. [Newsreader: they have exaggerated it here.] That's what I do believe.

Here are all the original transcriptions then I have made, in Dutch:

Interview door Felix Meurders voor (VARA, 28 Maart 2012)
Introductie: vrijdagavond 8:00, de politie gaat het Baekelandplein in Eindhoven op en sluit het hermetisch af. De 44 prostituees worden in bussen naar het stadhuis vervoerd en ondervraagd. Het vermoeden bestaat dat ze het slachtoffer zijn van mensenhandel en uitbuiting. [Rob van Gijzel:] "en we hebben een sterke aanwijzing dat de helft van de vrouwen die daar moeten werken of die daar werken, dat de helft daarvan móeten werken." [Nieuwslezer: Burgemeester Rob van Gijzel bij Omroep Brabant, waar hij het grootscheepse uitkammen van een prostitutiegebied rechtvaardigt. Maar liefst 300 agenten bestormden de peeskamertjes en namen 44 prostituees mee. Doel: diezelfde prostituees beschermen tegen uitbuiting en grip krijgen op de georganiseerde misdaad die hier in het gebied aan de touwtjes zou trekken. Heiligt het doel de middelen én wat levert het op. Ik praat hierover met hoogleraar criminologie Dina Siegel van de Universiteit Utrecht. Mevrouw Siegel goeiemorgen.] Goeiemorgen. [Nieuwslezer: er zijn bij die actie naar ik meen uiteindelijk zes mensen opgepakt. Is dat voldoende resultaat voor zo'n grootscheepse actie vindt u?] Ja, dat weet ik niet, ik weet dat als je zo'n grote actie voert dan moet je wel van tevoren goed geïnformeerd worden over die specifieke zes personen, dus je moet goeie informatie krijgen. En als je dat hebt, waarom moet je dan zoveel andere mensen aanpakken? [Nieuwslezer: waarom zou zo'n actie gevoerd worden?] Ehm, ik denk dat dat was meer een soort van signaal, en dan ga ik er vanuit dat er inderdaad goeie informatie naar binnen kwam. [Nieuwslezer: ja.] Vooral van Oost-Europa, omdat wij horen dat de meeste prostituees op dit moment komen van Oost-Europa en Nigeria. En signaal naar die partners in die andere landen, in Oost-Europa, dat de politie iets met de informatie hier dóet. [Nieuwslezer: want de Oost-Europeanen geven informatie aan Nederland en dan gebeurt daar uiteindelijk iets mee.] Nou, als ik hoor dat de euh, er sterke aanwijzingen zijn voor zo'n actie, dan ga ik vanuit dat er goeie informatie naar binnen kwam. En dan moet je iets mee doen, en dan is het signaal naar de partners vervolg van een goeie samenwerking in algemene Europese aanpak van georganiseerde misdaad, mensenhandel, dat Nederlandse politie in staat is om deel te nemen aan zo'n actie, aan zo'n aanpak. [Nieuwslezer: en volgens de Eindhovense autoriteiten levert zo'n actie uiteindelijk vooral inzichten op over het netwerk achter de prostitutie.] Netwerken, nou dat gaat… [Nieuwslezer: georganiseerde misdaad dus.] Ja, georganiseerde misdaad wordt op dit moment gezien als netwerken, een jaar of 20 geleden werd het als een soort piramidale hiërarchische structuur, een soort mafia-achtige met een godfather aan de top, (nauwelijks veranderd). Ik heb grote twijfels of georganiseerde misdaad betrokken is bij prostitutie. [Nieuwslezer: nou, het komische is ook dat mensen die zijn opgepakt die zijn vaak voor iets heel anders aangehouden, die zes mannen, waren het, die hadden of deels veel geld op zak, of ze beschikten drugs, over drugs. Dus het is nog maar de vraag of ze deel uitmaken van een netwerk, en daar stel je de dus vraagtekens bij, en waarom eigenlijk?] Euh, ik weet niet, euh, niks over drugs, het ging over mensenhandel. [Nieuwslezer: nee, nee, in zijn algemeenheid over die georganiseerde misdaad in de prostitutie.] Georganiseerde misdaad wordt op dit moment in verband gebracht met drugscriminaliteit, met mensenhandel, is een hele lange lijst door de Verenigde Naties opgesteld van, van de moderne activiteiten van de georganiseerde misdaad. Of deze actie in Eindhoven iets met georganiseerde misdaad had te maken hebben we geen informatie. Ik ga er vanuit dat de politie was heel goed geïnformeerd over bepaalde personen, maar dan komt de vraag, natuurlijk, waarom alle prostituees? Waarom alle mensen die betrokken waren?… [Nieuwslezer: nou, ik hoorde de burgemeester net zeggen, 50% van die prostituees daar, die werken tegen hun zin, die moeten daar werken zei die letterlijk.] En dat is het grote probleem, dat mensenhandel een synoniem is geworden van prostitutie. En wij vergeten dat prostitutie een legaal beroep is, en wij weten heel weinig over de achtergronden en de betrokkenheid van georganiseerde criminaliteit bij de prostitutie. Het beste voorbeeld is natuurlijk De Wallen waar er nog steeds tekort is aan informatie, inzichten en empirische gegevens over de betrokkenheid van georganiseerde misdaad is. [Nieuwslezer: over De Wallen nog altijd geen genoeg?] Nee, dat gaat alleen over vermoedens, dat gaat over wat door Lodewijk Asscher wordt gezegd: criminogene aspecten, wat het ook kan zijn, in [de] criminologie kennen wij dit begrip niet echt, en er [?] criminaliteit één van de factoren van de prostitutie is, maar harde feiten en goeie empirische kennis hebben wij niet. [Nieuwslezer: Maar u heeft er veel onderzoek naar gedaan, u heeft met meisjes gesproken, en u bent niet zo overtuigd van de dwang.] Nee, wij hebben onderzoek [gedaan], ik heb onderzoek gedaan in de landen van afkomst van de meisjes, in Roemenië en Bulgarije, ik heb zelf met meisjes gesproken, en als ik hoor Lodewijk Asscher zeggen ik geloof niet dat achttienjarige meisje uit Hongarije vrijwillig naar Nederland komt dan zeg ik, moet hij naar Hongarije afreizen, of naar Roemenië en Bulgarije, en met de meisjes praten. Het is echt zo dat meisjes vinden werk in prostitutie in Nederland, West-Europa in het algemeen, als heel aantrekkelijk iets. Zij willen naar Nederland komen, snel geld te verdienen omdat zij willen niet zo lang en zo diep in armoede of in uitzichtloze situatie in de eigen land. [Nieuwslezer: meent u dat echt?] Ja, het gaat over economische factoren, en de meisje dan hebben we ook dan euh dan hebben we ook gesprekken met politie en met justitie en met hulpverlenende organisaties bijvoorbeeld in Bulgarije gevoerd, en ze zeggen allemaal dat is een soort mode is geworden voor jonge mensen naar West-Europa naar Nederland (te komen). [Nieuwslezer: er zijn geen pooiers bij betrokken, er zijn geen mensenhandelaars bij betrokken?] Ja, dat is een andere vraag, wat zijn de moderne pooiers, hè? Dat zijn heel veel, kijk, mensenhandel en prostitutie is heel complexe fenomeen. Er zijn ook onderzoeken gedaan naar loverboys, dat denk ik dat dát is echt moderne vorm van pooier. Mensenhandelaren zien de meisjes zelf in de landen niet als negatief iets. Ze zien het als een hulp om naar het land te komen, een soort van agent die alles voor hen regelt om van Hongarije... [Nieuwslezer: geld verdienen voor de familie, en zet de familie ze dan niet onder druk?] Soms wel, soms wel. [Nieuwslezer: Hebben jullie nog inkomsten voor ons gaan vergaren?] Ja [Nieuwslezer: dan is het toch tegen hun wil?] Ja, soms wel, maar dat heeft te maken met culturele aspecten, sociale aspecten van bepaalde etnische groepen, we praten hier over bepaalde etnische minderheden in die landen… [Nieuwslezer: zoals?] Zoals Roma. En meisjes en jonge vrouwen zien een soort van familieplicht om bij te dragen aan de gezamenlijke inkomsten van de hele clan, hele familie. En dan zijn ze bereid om zichzelf te opofferen om een tijdje in prostitutie te werken, vooral in de ramen, Hongaarse vrouwen die hier [werken], zijn meeste Roma meisjes, en gezamenlijke geld wordt geïnvesteerd in euh bijvoorbeeld euh [Nieuwslezer: maar die doen dat dus omdat hun familie dat eist]. Of van eigen verplichting gevoel, dat weten we natuurlijk niet, wij neigen altijd naar negatieve beelden, wij denken niet in de percepties van de vrouwen zelf. Net zoals we zeggen uitbuiting, dwang hier, dat zijn onze westerse percepties, wij denken dat de vrouwen dat ook denken, maar als je met de meisjes in gesprek gaat dan hebben zij andere beelden. Ja, misschien is het uitbuiting in onze termen, in onze percepties, maar zij zien het als een snelle manier om geld te verdienen. [Nieuwslezer: nou, als het van de familie moet, of of ja, misschien dat ze denken, het hoort erbij, dus dan moeten we het doen, dan is het in ieder geval geen handel. Meisjes, zegt u, zijn voor een groot deel hier vrijwillig, tenminste als ze daar vandaan komen.] Ja, alleen, er is wel een probleem en dat heb ik net heb genoemd, van loverboys, dat denk ik dat heeft te maken met relaties verslaving noem ik dat, dat ze, ze [zijn] afhankelijk van bepaalde gevoelens van bepaalde, relationele verband met die jongens en daar zie ik een soort van mentale dwang, maar de meeste vrouwen die hier komen dat zijn vrijwillige sekswerkers .. [Nieuwslezer: en geen bewijs voor georganiseerde misdaad.] En geen bewijs van georganiseerde misdaad, maar misschien .. [Nieuwslezer: maar ik ga nog even naar Amsterdam terug, het schoonvegen van De Wallen, dat leverde de stad de Gonsalvesprijs op. En minister Opstelten noemde het Wallenproject een effectieve aanpak van de georganiseerde misdaad. Daar hebben we het weer hè? De georganiseerde misdaad.] Ja, ja. [Nieuwslezer: Zit Opstelten dan uit zijn nek te praten?] Nou, dan, mijn vraag aan Opstelten is: welke georganiseerde misdaad, wie zijn de georganiseerde criminelen, waar komen ze vandaan, wat zijn de motieven, waar zijn ze mee bezig, laat ons die feiten zien, niet alleen vermoedens, en als er echter sterke aanwijzingen zijn, nou dan moeten wij ook zien en voelen, niet alleen de algemene beeld van dat alle vrouwen zijn slachtoffers van mensenhandel en alles, dat moet je op een of andere manier aanpakken. We hebben geen kennis, we hebben geen empirische data over georganiseerde misdaad op De Wallen, en dat lijkt me een beetje abstracte termen wat wij ook van Opstelten horen. [Nieuwslezer: dus achter georganiseerde misdaad aanjagen heeft ook geen enkele zin.] Georganiseerde misdaad is… [Nieuwslezer: in dit geval hè?] Ja, in dit geval niet. Georganiseerde misdaad bestaat wél, alleen, je moet wel concrete mensen achter dit abstracte concept georganiseerde misdaad vinden. Wie zijn de netwerken, wat doen ze hier, waarom komen ze naar Nederland, wat is zo aantrekkelijk in Nederland, dát moet je eerst begrijpen om aanpak of euh beleid te verzinnen. [Nieuwslezer: we weten eigenlijk nog veel te weinig.] Heel weinig. [Nieuwslezer: maar, op datgene wat u weet, wat u zelf van die meisjes gehoord heb, in de M-O-E landen, in midden en Oost-Europa.] MOE landen heet dat. [Nieuwslezer: ja, ik vertel het even. Dan, dan, daarvan zegt u ja, ze worden niet gedwongen, hooguit door hun familie, maar zelfs dat weten we niet.] Zelfs dat weten we niet, en er zijn veel min… meer oorzaken en redenen om naar Nederland te komen en in dit beroep te belanden dan dwang en uitbuiting. [Nieuwslezer: Dina Siegel, hoogleraar criminologie aan de Universiteit Utrecht, over de in haar ogen zo goed als zinloze acties tegen de prostitutie.]
Nou, zonder alle details te weten, ga ik vanuit de politie goeie informatie had over die daders die ze hebben aangepakt, en dat ook deze informatie de grootste rol speelde in zo'n grote actie. Of het nodig is op basis van vermoedens dat er mensenhandel plaatsvindt bij de prostitutiebranche in Eindhoven, ja, het is prostitutie en mensenhandel worden als synoniemen gezien vandaag, wat in mijn perceptie niet klopt. [Nieuwslezer: dat klopt niet zegt u.] Nee. [Nieuwslezer: nee, nee, want euh ja, dat is toch wel het beeld wat we hebben, wat ook geuit is door onder andere de burgemeester, burgemeester van Gijzel, die zegt van ja de helft van de dames die daar werkt op het Baekelandplein, ja, daar is toch ergens iets mis mee, daar zit iets van vrouwenhandel aan.] Nou, ik weet niet waar hij deze uitspraken op gebaseerd, omdat wij in criminologie weten niet voldoende over het gebruik van geweld of dwang of uitbuiting. Euhm, aan de andere kant doen we onderzoek, ik doe zelf veel onderzoek in Oosteuropese landen, en ik weet dat er bijna geen sprake van dwang is, en het is vrijwillige prostitutie. Vrouwen komen naar Nederland om snel geld te verdienen, en ze komen hier om uit armoede in eigen land ontsnappen, ze willen hier met rust gelaten worden. Dus het klopt niet met die informatie en de gegevens die wij hebben verzameld in ons onderzoek. Euhm, ik geloof niet dat 50% van alle vrouwen die in de prostitutie werken slachtoffers van mensenhandel zijn. [Nieuwslezer: nee nou ja, de burgemeester had het over het Baekelandplein, enne hij zegt van ja, we hebben daar toch vastgesteld dat het euh, ja, dat er iets van een criminele samenwerkingsverbanden achter zitten, internationaal opererende bendes, waar zou dat beeld, want u zegt van nou euh, die meisjes euh, dus euh, naar mijn onderzoek, uit mijn onderzoek blijkt, die meisjes die werken daar voor het grootste deel wel vrijwillig, waar zou het beeld vandaan komen dan?] Ja, het is een beetje ongenuanceerde beeld die in de laatste jaren ontstond, en zeker na die grote acties die nu op De Wallen in Amsterdam bijvoorbeeld plaatsvinden, maar ook daar wordt gesproken over zogenaamde criminogene aspecten, en het gaat niet over harde feiten of euh, echte kennis, echte informatie over georganiseerde misdaad, en wat wij in criminologisch onderzoek ook in het buitenland weten, is dat georganiseerde misdaad is heel abstracte concept, en, en dat moeten wij veel meer details hebben, veel meer gegevens per individuele geval om zo, euh, zo euh vergaande constatering te maken, en ook aanpak te verzinnen. [Nieuwslezer: ja, u zegt het moet het per geval bekijken, maar het algemene beeld dat er criminele organisaties actief zijn in die sector, die prostitutiesector, klopt dat wel?] Ook niet, tenminste niet vanuit het onderzoek dat wij doen, of, waar ik betrokken ben. Het is wel bekend dat economisch noodzaak is een grote rol op dit moment speelt, dat een grote kloof tussen economische situatie in Oost-Europa, in Nigeria, in Zuid-Amerika, en West-Europa, is het dus aantrekkelijk voor de vrouwen naar Nederland te komen. De inkomsten die zij hier krijgen investeren zij in eigen land. Ze proberen op zo'n manier hun leven te regelen, ouders te steunen, eigen kinderen naar goeie scholen te brengen. We zien ook dat er huizen worden gebouwd. Dus ik weet niet waarom ehm, ja, het is nog zo in verband gebracht met, met mensenhandel, met uitbuiting. Het is natuurlijk zo dat er waren een paar grote zaken, het beruchte Sneep-zaak die waarschijnlijk aanleiding gaf aan zo generalisatie, en stigmatisering van die, eigenlijk een legale beroep, prostitutie is legaal in Nederland. [Nieuwslezer: wat zou u de burgemeester van Eindhoven adviseren?] Ik zou adviseren een grondig onderzoek doen, ook met een samenwerking van de polities en Justities, en ook onderzoekers, misschien van criminologisch onderzoek of justitiële onderzoek, ook vanuit de achtergrondlanden van de vrouwen, om zeker te zijn dat de vrouwen onvrijwillig gekomen, dat er dwang is, dat er geweld wordt gebruikt. En niet iedereen behandelen alleen op vermoedens, of een risicogroep, alleen dat misschien worden zij gedwongen in de prostitutie te werken. [Nieuwslezer: ja, misschien als ik u zo hoor kan dit wat u betreft zonder dit soort grootschalige invallen.] Ja, dat denk ik.


Prostitutie wordt gezien als een soort van ‘social service’ hè? Het wordt niet gezien als iets heel erg euh erg hè? Dus niet een gevallen vrouwen, en niet als vroeger wordt het gezien. Iedereen begrijpt ook dat slechte economische situatie, uitzichtloze situatie, vooral op het platteland in deze landen, een aantrekking van van westerse wereld, spelen een grote rol.

[Nieuwslezer: voor Siegel is de hele actie één groot vraagteken.]

Het is niet gebaseerd op feiten. Kijk, wij doen onderzoek in de landen hè? Wij praten met de meisjes in Roemenië, in Bulgarije, en wij weten dat op dit moment ook andere aspecten een grote rol spelen, niet alleen dwang en niet alleen armoede dat altijd wordt genoemd.



Wij zien ook die meisjes die helemaal geen slachtoffers zijn, of tenminste, ze voelen zich niet uitgebuit, ze voelen zich niet slachtoffer, dat is een groot verschil natuurlijk.



En dat er misstanden zijn dat ontken ik ook niet, maar dat zijn misstanden die hebben te maken met geweld, of met relationele problemen, dat gebeurt overal, in alle branches, in alle, nou, alle gezinnen [lacht] of euh, gebeurt ook achter gesloten deuren, bij, bij bonafide bedrijven en gezinnen. [Nieuwslezer: ze hebben het hier overdreven.] Ik denk het wel.


Zondares said...

How do you achieve to take the only one doing really some research where they ask the girls, and say that she filters without knowing it? She's the only one reporting about what she found, instead of what she assumes.

She is still careful not to make fuss, but she is at least critical of the hype!

Donkey said...

There are others who have done research: like Ine Vanwesenbeeck, Liesbeth Venicz, Frank Bovenkerk.

They arrive at other conclusions: that a significant minority of prostitutes are indeed coerced or exploited. You cannot possibly say that exploitation is no problem in the Dutch sex industry.

On the other hand, their research is some years old now. Dina Siegel is doing research at this moment. Perhaps the situation has improved in the meantime.

Zondares said...

Vanwesenbeeck writes about the prostitution branch as a mostly healthy branch that is associated with the wrongdoings. These are not part of it. Venicz doesn't work with fieldwork, in her papers there is re-working of earlier papers of bad research. And I haven't read good things from Bovenkerk, he hasn't done good fieldwork. Siegel is the only one of these that starts critical, she is doing independent things.

Donkey said...

Which reports of Liesbeth Venicz are you referring to? Liesbeth Venicz has done fieldwork during the end of the 90s in Groningen. She wrote a report about it called: Achter de ramen - Veldwerk onder raamprostituees in Groningen 1997 - 1998. You can lend the report at the library of, they can send it to you if you pay some money. I also copied the report in its entirety, so if you want to I can send a PDF. Liesbeth Venicz also wrote with Ine Vanwesenbeeck the report Er gaat iets veranderen in de prostitutie … in 2000. The thing is that these reports are very old. It could be that the situation has drastically improved. But on the other hand, how come that pimps like Saban B, Youssef O.b.A. and others are arrested? And what about the Hungarian pimps in the Molensteeg? And all these court cases, where do they come from? There's still something going on. Something bad. And I believe that Dina Siegel somehow missed it, because her way of recruiting prostitutes somehow results in not detecting the forced prostitutes. I think you have to go out into the field, and Dina Siegel hasn't done that. She just interviewed a prostitute, who brought her into contact with other prostitutes, the latter group again brought her into contact with yet another group of prostitutes. I think this way there is a chance that you miss the forced prostitutes. Dina Siegel never went to De Wallen herself to become acquainted with prostitutes there. How can she say that all prostitutes on De Wallen work voluntarily? She doesn't know about this first hand.