According to the Dutch law, a human trafficker is someone that recruits, transports, takes in or houses a person with force (in the widest sense of the word) with the goal to exploit that person. Human trafficking does not just happen in prostitution, but happens in many other industries as well. Still the media uses the word human trafficking most of the times when it's about prostitution, and they change it to 'exploitation' when it's about another industry. Therefore it often looks like human trafficking only happens in prostitution, but it happens in other industries as well.
But there are more exceptions when it comes to prostitution and human trafficking. For example: in prostitution it's also called human trafficking when a person transports someone from one country to another country, knowing that person will work there as a prostitute, even when it's voluntarily. In other industries it's perfectly legal and not called human trafficking to transport a person to work in another country knowing what job he or she is going to do.
In my eyes that's a weird thing. People can do any job they want, traveling from one country to the other for jobs, after all we're talking about the European Union, in where any citizen is allowed to work in any of it's countries. Many people are recruited from one country to work in another country, for instance as truck drivers, or strawberry pluckers, by professional organisations or individuals. But when someone agrees to work as a prostitute in another country, and you transport them than all of the sudden it's illegal. It's an example which shows that even though the Dutch government has legalized prostitution and claims it's a normal job, in reality they still treat it like it's criminal.
When I came here to Holland I had help from people. The people that helped me knew I was going to work as a prostitute over here, and therefore by law are considered to be human traffickers. A strange thing, since without their help, or any help for that matter from anyone, it simply would not have been possible for me to come to work here. For example, to live in another country you first need a place to live. Now the problem is of course that not many prostitutes when they come here, including myself, speak English very well. And if you can't communicate with someone, or read a contract for that matter, you can't get a house.
Secondly, you also have the problem of money. The reason most prostitutes from Eastern Europe come to Holland, and especially to Amsterdam, is because they can make a lot of money. They come from poor countries like Romania and Bulgaria, and simply don't have the financial means to rent an apartment for themselves over here. The average income for a person between 20 and 30 years old in Romania for instance is between 150 and 250 euro's a month. The rent in Amsterdam alone however comes closer to 1000 euro's or more, especially when you want to live closer to the center. On top of that comes the fact that when you rent an apartment for the first time, you need to pay not just the rent for the first month, but also pay the deposit (the same amount as one month's rent) plus you pay the agency (also the amount of one month's rent). So in total you pay about 3000 euro's for an apartment, while you only make about 200 euro's average a month. In short, it's unaffordable for any person to come from a poor country to Holland, without any financial help. And since the banks don't give out loans to prostitutes, that leaves only one option, you need to get someone to help you.
So it basically comes down to the fact that no matter what, even if a person wants to, you can't help that person to travel to another country to get a job as a prostitute. And why is that? How come it's legal to help someone become a truck driver in another country, but it's not legal when that same person wants to become a prostitute? Are they trying to demotivate people from becoming prostitutes? Is there something wrong with being a prostitute if you want to?
And now we've only covered the housing. I haven't even added in the costs of transport (airplane tickets), setting up your own company to be a prostitute at the Chambers of Commerce, and I haven't even covered the non-financial part of getting all the papers you need and your permit. Especially in Holland, where everything is very complex and complicated to get, even if you know the Dutch or English language, it's virtually impossible to get started as a prostitute when you're not from here.
The incredible amount of paperwork needed to get started as a prostitute is already so much work, that you simply can't do it without any help. And since there are no prostitution-agencies to go to, like you have employment agencies for other jobs, help is required.
It's strange to make a job legal, but than making it virtually impossible to become one without help, and than subsequently making anyone that does help you a criminal by law. It's strange really, there are so many organisations out there to fight human trafficking, but there are no organisations that help you become a prostitute without the help of (what they legally call) human traffickers. There's no organisation that helps you 'safely' to become a prostitute. And of course, if you use these kind of terms to describe human trafficking, by criminalizing any help to become a prostitute, than indeed I understand why the number of human trafficked prostitutes are so high. That however doesn't mean we're forced, but simply that the government doesn't support prostitutes in their career, and rather discourages it. To me it's strange that a government says a job is legal and normal, but on the other hand discourages any to pursue a career in it.
And of course these anti-human trafficking organisations gladly use these, basically false, numbers of human trafficking to connect it with the worst cases or sometimes even pure lies of women being forced, beaten, tortured and exploited into prostitution. It's not so strange that they do this by the way, after all, they're funding and financing depends on the need for help, and therefore depends on the size of human trafficking. The more human trafficking they can report, the more financing they will get to 'fight this problem'.
And now we even haven't talked about the police their involvement in 'fighting' human trafficking. For the police basically every guy who's close to a prostitute is a pimp, and therefore a human trafficker. 'A guy will never love you for who you are, but for your money' a policeman once said to me. He made it sound like it wasn't possible for prostitutes to get someone to love them. However, I know plenty of girls, including myself, who have a boyfriend that loves them for who they are, and not for what they do or how much money they make. In fact, I know many girls who came here with their boyfriend before she was a prostitute, and years later return home together after she quits the job. Many prostitutes are even married, have children, and of course there are also prostitutes that break up with their boyfriend and get a new one. In fact, it's almost as if prostitutes have normal lives like everyone else!
But the police has a very different view on this. 'Never share your money with a boyfriend, because you worked for that money and not him!' a policeman once said to me. It sounds very logical to a lot of people who know little to nothing about prostitution. But if you really think about it, it's actually really weird. How many husbands work for the money to support their wives and families? How many football-wives spend the money of their husbands on expensive clothes, bags and shoes? Isn't it a classic household, where one person works, and the other person does the house-holding? Than how come it's so weird for a prostitute to share her income with her partner? All couples do this, but when prostitution is involved it's all of the sudden 'wrong' and even illegal! Does that mean all couples and families in Holland are forbidden to share their income with the rest of their family and partners? Why is it just illegal for a prostitute to share her income with her partner, and not for an accountant?
No, when a prostitute shares her income with someone else, it's called exploiting, and it's called human trafficking according to the police. Many boyfriends and even husbands have been arrested by the police, and some have even gone to jail, simply because their girlfriend or wive is a prostitute and shares her income with him. If you ask me, that comes pretty close to discrimination in my eyes, in where the same rules don't apply to one specific group of people. Plus let's not forget the fact that nobody from Romania or Bulgaria until this year was allowed to work in Holland, except if they started a company for themselves over here. So what where these boys supposed to do? They can't get a job, because the Dutch government doesn't allow them access to the Dutch employment market, yet they also can't survive on the income of their own partner, simply because she's a prostitute. Should all these prostitutes let their boyfriends and husbands starve to death, because some idiot calls this human trafficking? What a madness!
But of course in the eyes of the police it's all very different. The boyfriend that came with you here to this country, is a human trafficker and a pimp. The boyfriend you get here, is a guy who's only after your money, and therefore a pimp and human trafficker too. Even the boy who's not your boyfriend, but just a friend is a human trafficker, because he spends time with you but you don't love him, and therefore obviously must be a pimp. And even when you're single, and you don't have a boyfriend and never had one over here, you're still a victim of human trafficking, like how the police thought in my case.
In the end, the police basically thinks every girl is a victim of human trafficking, it doesn't matter if she's single, married, has a boyfriend, or already had a boyfriend before she came here, they're all victims in the eyes of the police. You can't have a normal life like any other couple or family, because you can't share your income with your partner, and the police constantly suspects your partner to be a criminal. A good friend of mine who also works here gets stopped every single day by the police, because her boyfriend brings her to work. She lives a couple of miles away from her job, and therefore her boyfriend drops her off at work, much like many other people would give their partner a ride to work. And afterwards, in the middle of the night, he picks her up again. They have a car, so why would they need to pay a taxi to bring her back in the middle of the night? Or why would she need to take public transport of they have a car of their own? And since you can't park so good here in the center of Amsterdam, you're not gonna leave your car in an expensive parking garage, with the chance of someone stealing your car or breaking in to it. It's much more logical if he just brings her to work, and picks her up afterwards. But in the eyes of the police, this is very suspicious, and therefore they get pulled over every single day, in where every single day the girl has to explain the same things over and over again.
Yes, there are human traffickers in prostitution, just like there are human traffickers in the transport industry, agriculture, house holding etc. But just like in these industries, not every partner of a truck driver is a human trafficker, and not every husband to a strawberry plucker is a criminal.
And yes, human trafficking should be stopped, but not by treating each worker as a victim, or each partner as a criminal. Prostitutes want to fight human trafficking just as much as everyone else wants, but it works better to work together. The police should see us as an ally in the fight of human trafficking, in stead of a victim. And people should start treating us like people, in stead of naive dumb girls who got forced into this by a pimp!