Working hours
A lot of times I see articles coming out in the media stating or suggesting that the office we work for (exploitant in Dutch), is taking advantage of us. They give people the impression that the office works together with pimps, that they're criminal, that they launder money for the pimps, and the they exploit the girls and force them into contracts to work long hours a day, many days a week etc.
This also gives people the impression that when girls work many days a week, or long hours a day (or both), that these are the women that are being forced to prostitute themselves. Or sometimes even suggest that the contracts the office offers to girls are so bad, that only the forced prostitutes remain.

A good example of this was an article a couple of weeks ago in a Dutch newspaper called Het Parool (article can be found here). The article's headline, roughly translated as: 'Strangling-contracts scare off free working prostitutes', give the impression that the offices work with contracts that have such bad policies, that no right minded prostitute would even want to work for them, and that only the forced prostitutes are forced by their pimp to agree with these contracts.
The article writes: 'Because of the shortage of windows, caused by the cleaning up of the Red Light District, offices can work with strangling-contracts, which leaves women no room but to rent their room for 7 days a week, 12 hours a day.' Indeed, it's true that there is a shortage of windows. The Gemeente of Amsterdam has closed down many windows already (or should I say bought?), because according to them '...under every stone we turn around we find vermin... ' as former alderman Lodewijk Asscher claimed. Their believe was that the Red Light District in Amsterdam was full of crime, which according to him was caused by the many coffee shops and brothels in the famous Red Light District. Money laundering, illegal activities, drug dealing, human trafficking, etc. Now, besides the fact that they never found any of these 'vermin', they lost every single court case against the brothel owners (our offices), and the fact that the biggest adviser to Lodewijk Asscher at the time, Patricia Perquin, turned out to be a scammer, that didn't stop them from trying to reduce the number of prostitution windows in Amsterdam. They bought windows from several offices (because they couldn't prove any of the accusations they made before), with the idea to replace prostitution with what they described as 'creative businesses'. The businesses that now occupy the former prostitution windows are fashion designer (if you can call that fashion), cheese shops (like we don't have enough of those), a radio station, etc. Funny enough, most of these companies don't pay rent (or very little) because their companies are hugely unsuccessful, but simply occupy the buildings until more successful businesses take their place. In fact, the project to clean up the Red Light District has been such a disaster for the Gemeente Amsterdam, that they're partners who bought the windows have decided to quit the project, and therefore Amsterdam is now looking for new partners.

What isn't true however, is that offices doesn't have any 'strangling-contracts' as this article suggests. The article talks about a contract where a girl needs to rent a room for at least 7 days week and 12 hours a day. This is simply not true. I work for one of the biggest offices in the Red Light District, and know also many girls who work for other offices. The offices rent out rooms per shift, one day and one night shift. The girl can choose which shift she wants to work, either the day or the night shift, or if she wants to she can work both shifts, but of course she'll also have to pay for both shits as well in stead of one, with a maximum of 12 hours a day. Since no men are allowed in the office, this only leaves the prostitutes themselves to decide when and where they want to work, and for how many hours a day. So it's impossible for a pimp to even talk to the office, since they're not even allowed in the office in the first place at all. So the idea that pimps and offices work together, or that the office launders the money for the pimps is simply ridiculous.

Most of the girls who work in the Red Light District in Amsterdam have a permanent room. This means they have one room that's theirs, until they choose to leave or quit. For these girls the office gives you the ability to take one or two free days a week, meaning you don't have to pay for your room in the days you're free.
On top of that, the office I work at for instance, gives the girls also two months vacation without having to pay the rent for the room for that period, and when she comes back the room will still be hers. Of course she can take more vacation if she wants to, but if she wants to keep her room, she'll still have to pay her rent for that period. In my opinion two months of vacation a year is more than enough, and more than most people with a normal job get.  I also don't know many agencies of apartments which offer you the ability to skip one or two months or rent when you go on vacation, and neither do I know any agencies which don't demand payment of rent even if a shop is closed for a certain period of time.

Of course there are women that do work 7 days a week, or 12 hours a day, and there are some good reasons for that. Many of the girls who come here for the first time in Amsterdam they don't get a permanent room from the office from the first day. Not because the office doesn't want to, but simply because most of the rooms are taken already by other girls. There are simply more girls than there are rooms, and of course the Gemeente Amsterdam made sure there are now even less rooms than there where before, which are now filled with such enrichment's as fashion designer stuff, cheese shops, but many of them are also still empty. Way to go Amsterdam! There are girls who don't have a room, and are willing to pay for them, but you're just giving away these rooms to people who don't even pay rent for it most of the times!
But what do you do when all the rooms are taken by other girls, and you can't get a room? Well, the answer is simple, you do nothing. You wait until one of the other girls have a free day, go on vacation or quit the job. So for a lot of girls, every day is about waiting until the office can tell you if they have a free room for you or not. The bills however don't stop, they still need to be payed, even if you work or not. So if you can get a room for both day and night, and you're not sure if you can get a room for the rest of the week, you'll take that room. And since the rooms are rented out by day, in stead of by week or month, every day is for a lot of girls a new gamble. Sometimes you get a room, sometimes you don't. And since you don't know if you'll be working today, this week, or maybe even this month, you'll take any chance you can get to work!
Sometimes someone goes on vacation, which means another girl can take that room for that period. But because she doesn't know if she can work after that other girl comes back, she'll try to work all the days that she can, even if that means 7 days, since she could be out of work the next week.
What people have to remember, is that window prostitutes all have their own company. So basically every prostitute is also her own business owner, and like with many businesses you don't have a fixed income, since you don't have a company that pays you. So if the times are good, you can make a lot of money, but if the times are bad, you also don't have any income and you can even loose money on the rent. As a business owner you take a risk, that risk is to be without income if the work is bad, and the same thing applies to prostitutes in the Red Light District, because they're also business owners.

And the article talks about contracts, which is kinda weird, since nobody really has any contracts. The contracts they are talking about in the article are not real contracts, but rather more house rules and rental conditions for renting a window. It's not like if you sign for these rules that you're stuck to a contract or somthing, like how it works with many other contracts. Some people say that our offices should post these on the internet for everyone to take a look at, but in my opinion that's ridiculous. How many companies place their house rules for employees on the internet? Or how many companies place their employer contracts on the internet? First of all, many offices in the Red Light District don't even have a website, and why would they? Just to prove to people that their rental conditions are valid? And even if their rental conditions would be valid online, than we still get people claiming that the prostitutes don't get the same conditions as on the website. In other words, it doesn't solve a thing. Plus, when the police come to check our papers, we also have to show them the rental conditions, so if something would really be wrong, the police would've noticed it already.
But of course, the real question is, is there a problem in the first place at all? And why does everything related to prostitution always have to be treated different from other industries? It's not like logistic companies are posting their contracts online for everyone to see, and a lot of human trafficking happens in those industries as well with truck drivers for instance. So why should prostitution companies be treated any different?

The next part of the article talks about an initiative for prostitutes to begin their own corporation. Ilonka Stakelborough, founder of foundation Geisha, an organisation aimed at improving the position of sexworkers, talks in the article about her attempt together with the city of Amsterdam to set up a corporation for prostitutes. She says: 'The concept is great: much more independence, make more money, be the boss over your own working times and being able to decorate the rooms yourself. Wouldn't that be a great improvement?'
Yes, indeed it would be a great improvement, but the problem is that we already have all of these things. We as prostitutes are already independent, since we are business owners ourselves, and we don't have contracts like this article suggests. We can go when we want, where we want, how we want. Don't know what can be more independent than that? Secondly, we already can decide on our own working times, like I've already talked about here above. 
But what I fear more is this idea of a corporation. We've already seen what happened in Utrecht, where the prostitutes set up their own corporation after their office got closed down by the Gemeente Utrecht. The Gemeente Utrecht promised them that if they would start up their own corporation, they could get a permit quickly, so they could go back to work as quickly as possible again. But now, more than 6 months after they started their own corporation, they still don't have their permit and the Gemeente Utrecht keeps changing the rules for getting one (as can be read in this article). Interesting to know, is that it was the Gemeente Utrecht their own suggestion to the prostitutes to start up their own corporation after the office there closed down. 
In my opinion it sounds a little bit like a Trojan Horse. Convince all prostitutes to be part of a corporation, and once they are, don't give them a permit and you've successfully erased prostitution in your area. And even if they ever get a permit, this could take years, and cost a lot of money. So I don't fully believe this idea of a corporation is better, especially not when it comes from the Gemeente of Amsterdam in our case, which has only been busy these past years with closing it down.

The next part of the article continues with Ilonka talking about Eastern European prostitutes. It reads: 'If you're not forced, you don't work that many hours a day, so when you don't work, and you still have to rent the room for 7 days a week and 12 hours a day, that costs money. That means that mostly Eastern European women are behind the windows, who work long hours, are very cheap and are willing to do it without condom. A free working sexworker cannot fight against that. Indirectly, forced prostitution is being promoted this way.'
Now a large part of this, about the working hours, I've already covered in the part above. But what is interesting to read, is  that apparently for Ilonka there's a difference between free working prostitutes and Eastern European prostitutes. In her idea apparently most of the Eastern European prostitutes (which consist mainly out of Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian prostitutes, of which Romanian is the biggest group together with Bulgarians) are forced, work cheap and don't use a condom. Funny enough it is this group of prostitutes, the Eastern European girls, that pick their customers. If they would be forced they wouldn't be so picky, since they'd be more scarred of their pimp. Another funny thing is that most of the girls I know never go under the minimum price of 50 Euro, in fact they often charge more money for their services. And for sure there are some girls out there that do it without protection, this is however not the majority, since every girl knows the danger of unprotected sex. I get many guys asking for unprotected sex, they go from door to door, all night long, looking for a girl that is willing to do it without a condom. They usually come back several times to you to ask if it's really not possible without a condom. Now, if the claim is true, that so many girls are willing to do it without a condom, than how come these guys keep going in circles all night long looking for a girl that does this? Shouldn't it be easy for them to find a girl who does it without a condom, if there are so many Eastern European women who do that? Than why do they keep coming at my door all night long, going from my door to the next one?
I know the girls from my country, many of my friends are Bulgarian, I know Hungarian women (since I also speak Hungarian), and funny enough I've never come across a forced prostitute from Eastern Europe, in 4 years time. I don't know where Ilonka got this information from, but it's simply false information, since none of it is true. I also wonder from which country these 'free working' prostitutes are that Ilonka is talking about, since by far the largest part of prostitutes in the Red Light District are the Eastern European prostitutes for years already. 

After this article I decided to get into contact with Ilonka from foundation Geisha, to talk about the things that where in the article. So I decided to write her an e-mail, confronting her with the statements she made about contracts, working hours, etc. But also about her comments of 'free working prostitutes' and Eastern European prostitutes. I even offered her to send her a copy of the house rules and rental conditions of my office. All I got back from her was this e-mail:


Dear Felicia, 

I never said that the girls have to work both shifts a day. 

That is forbitten, so should not even be an option. 

Our foundation did research among the sekswerkers in 2012 and what i said during the interview is the outcome of this research. 

We still get complaints about this problem. 
I am very glad that for you things work out well, but this surely does not count for a lot of women. 
Our foundation complained about this problem and now some operators changed or are changing there rules and that's a good thing. 
If you want you can always sent me a copy of youre contract. 
If you have a empatic operator , who acts in the Right wat,we will make excuus en promoot that. 
I go for honesty en the truth. 
Thank you for reacting and i wish you a 
lot of succes in youre work. 

Kind regards

Ilonka Stakelborough
Directeur Stichting Geisha

Apparently Ilonka is still not correctly informed about the conditions and house rules of the offices, since she states now that working both shits a day is forbidden, which is not the case as I already explained here in the above section. Also she now claims that this was from a research from 2012, yet I worked also in 2012 and 2011 and the rules where pretty much the same as they are now. Plus I also wonder myself, why go to the media with a story of two years ago? Why didn't she go to the media in 2012 when she made the research?
But what bothered me above all, was the fact that she didn't answer any of the questions I asked her about the Eastern European prostitutes. She simply ignored them, as if they wheren't there.
So I decided to write her an e-mail back, which also included a copy of the house rules and rental conditions, but I never got a single answer back from that anymore.
What's strange is that Ilonka claims to fight for the position and the rights of prostitutes in Holland, yet she's completely misinformed, and all I've seen her doing was bringing out false information about our job and working conditions. And on top of that also stigmatize Eastern European prostitutes as apparently forced prostitutes. I expected these things from the government, or the Gemeente Amsterdam, but I never expected an organisation that works for prostitutes to give out false information and stigmatize our job and my country.

Dutch version
Myths about prostitution
Before I started to do this job I heard many stories about prostitution. That you would have to have sex many times a day, you would have to take in all the people and that the people would treat you bad. Basically I thought the same way many people think about prostitution, and this is also enforced by a lot of stories in the media. But when I started to work here, I was surprised at how different the job was from what I expected, and that's it not all about sex.

First of all, many of the clients that come to me often don't end up having sex with me at all. Many guys come inside and have what we could describe as 'performance issues', often caused by drinking too much, smoking too much weed or just because they're very nervous. In fact, if I think about it, about 40% of my customers have trouble to 'keep it up'. But besides the guys that have performance issues, you also have guys that don't even want to have sex. A lot of guys that come to a prostitute just because they want to talk, about problems they have at home, issues with their wives or girlfriends, some people are just curious to come inside and ask you about the work. In fact, a large part of my time revolves more around playing a therapist than a prostitute.

Than you have people that do have requests, like giving them a normal massage (without the happy ending), or just give them a simple handjob, or a simple blowjob. Than you have the people with weird requests, like people wanting to be walked around like a dog (no sex), people who want to be beaten or sometimes even have their balls squeezed by my high heels until the point they're almost bleeding. Most of these guys come to me because they have requests that their wives or girlfriend don't to perform on them, and they have no where else to go with these requests.

And than you have the guys that actually come in to have sex and actually also end up having sex, which is around 30% of the guys. But a lot of guys that come in with the intention to have sex, often don't even end up having sex for various reasons. And there also a lot of guys that come in saying they want to have sex, but do it more to prove to their friends how macho they are, and once they're inside often are too scarred to even take their clothes off. And last but not least you also have guys that come in for another reason, which is because they're doubting their own sexuality, and they want to find out if they're gay or not. This usually ends up with me doing nothing at all but taking a dildo in my hand and putting it where they like it.

The idea most people have of a customer of a prostitute, is the old, fat, dirty man that can't find a woman to have sex with, because he's too disgusting. But actually most of my clients are just very regular people. Many guys that come to me are good looking guys, some are not so good looking guys, guys who are married, family guys, guys who have a girlfriend home and also of course single guys.
The reason many men who are married or have a girlfriend come to a prostitute, is not because they like to cheat on their wives or girlfriends, or because they're not loyal people, but simply because many women out there don't pay enough attention to their partner. Many women neglect their husbands or boyfriends, causing them to feel lonely and like they're not getting any attention at home.
Maybe some people won't believe me on this, but many times I ask guys why they come to me if they have a wife sitting at home, because it's not a very nice thing to do. And the answer is always the same: 'everything was nice until we got married, and than we got children and all the attention goes to them, and our sex live goes down the drain.' Many guys tell me they have sex every two or three months, sometimes even 6 months or longer, and sometimes even not at all! Since they still have the need, but don't want to cheat on their wife or girlfriend, starting an affair with some other girl, these men rather choose to pay a prostitute to have sex with no emotional attachments. So, in fact, you could say these men want to stay true to their girlfriends or wives, but because they get neglected and don't want to cheat on them, a prostitute is a good solution.

Some people, like Renate van der Zee, have commented on the fact that men have a need for sex. She said that sex is not a right, and that therefore prostitution cannot be used as an excuse for this. Now, besides the fact that I don't see any harm if two people agree to have sex in exchange for money, the fact that sex is not a right doesn't mean it can not be offered as a service. Just like how having a cell phone it not a right, doesn't mean we should ban the sales of cell phones, or that we should criminalize the people who buy them. In fact, a lot of phones get made by companies who have young childeren and people working in their factories working under terrible conditions. Why do I never hear people like Renate van der Zee talk about these people?
Studies have shown that men who don't have sex over a long period of time, can get serious psychological problems that can affect their stress level, work or even their behavior. I think we all know some good examples of that, when you look for instance at the Catholic Church and their child abuse, or countries like India where prostitution is highly illegal and yet we have hundreds, even thousands of gruesome rapes.
It even makes me wonder some times, there are so many organisations trying to 'save prostitutes' from their position, while in India women get raped and killed on a daily base. How much more prove do you need to legalize it?

There's also the idea out there that prostitutes get treated very bad by their customers. But like everywhere else in the world, also in prostitution you have nice customers and customers which are not nice. A lot of customers are very shy, a lot of nice people out there, with who you can laugh very much and are very funny. But of course there are also some customers who are not so nice to prostitutes. Most of them are drunk, and have problems getting 'it' hard, and they blame in their drunken mind us for this. And than you have the people that don't have any respect for prostitutes, or even women, like a lot of Moroccan guys. I'm not saying that all Moroccan guys are bad, but in my experience I've never come across a nice Moroccan guy that is respectful to us at work. They do the most foul things, like spitting on our windows, or if they can even in our faces, call us the worst things and if you let them in there's a good chance they'll try to steal from you, or sometimes even try to kill you. This is the reason many prostitutes don't let in Moroccan guys, not because we're racists or whatever, but simply because we all have way too many bad experiences with them.

Another thing that many people don't know, is that you don't have to let every guy in. People always assume that because you're a prostitute you have to take in every guy that comes to your door. But fortunately human rights protect women just as well in their job as a prostitutes as it does in their private life, and therefore we can refuse anyone we want to. We're not obligated to take in anyone if we don't want to. If I don't feel good about someone, for whatever reason that may be, I can simply refuse him. The police is also there to protect us from people that make trouble about this.
In the media you'll often read that it are the girls mostly from Eastern Europe that are forced prostitutes. Now, since most of the prostitutes in the Red Light District in Amsterdam come from Romania, and in second place Bulgaria with Hungarian girls a little bit behind in the third place, it's obvious to see who they're talking about. Yet, interestingly I know most of the Eastern European women, and it are mostly them who refuse customers, which doesn't really fit in with the story of the forced prostitute who is forced to have sex with many customers for her pimp. Why would a girl that would be forced to make a lot of money for her pimp refuse customers? Especially if you read in these stories how they get beat up if they don't make enough money.

Another thing that a lot of people don't know is that the minimum price is 50 Euro to come in, but this price isn't for everything included. The prostitute herself can determine what she does for this price, and can ask for more if the client has more requests. A lot of people sometimes say to me that 50 Euro is a lot of money for a used vagina, but I always wonder why these people come here in the first place if they don't want to pay money for a used vagina. 
Often people think that a prostitute is a very dirty, disgusting woman, since they assume we have sex with just anyone that comes at our door. But that's simply not true. As you've just read, many customers don't even want sex, and even if they do it often doesn't even happen because of performance issues on their behalf. When we do have sex, I always use a condom, as do most of the girls. Also after every customer I was myself a lot, and end up washing myself like 10 sometimes even 20 times a day.
Now if we compare this to a 'normal girl' you might meet in a club, you have to ask yourself how often she has protected sex with other guys? And how often does she wash herself a day? I've had many couples before at my work, just normal couples. And when the girl undresses herself, in 99% of the cases the girls have such bad hygiene that they smell so bad, that I even threw up one time. Since that time I've never taken in couples anymore. Girls who don't shave themselves, and don't even trim their pubic hair, which is really really disgusting in my opinion for oral sex, since everything get's stuck in those hairs. In fact, the reason all the prostitutes I know shave themselves, is because it's easier to keep it clean, and therefore more hygienic. When I ask why these girls don't shave themselves, the answer is always because it takes a lot of time, and when they don't have a boyfriend why should they do it? In my opinion you shave yourself for your personal hygiene and because you respect your own body, but apparently that's not important to these girls unless they have a boy they want to impress.
It's especially interesting because a lot of them are young girls that have really bad hygiene, while for example when I had an older woman of 40 years old and her hygiene was very good. I don't know what's up with these young girls these days, but many of them don't take care of their own personal hygiene, and their own body. Many people claim prostitutes don't have respect for themselves, or their own body. Yet, if I look at my experiences, and many other girls I've talked to have the exact same experiences about this, we take better care of our personal hygiene than those 'normal girls'. So than I wonder who has more respect for her own body and herself? A prostitute who takes her personal hygiene very serious, or a normal girl who neglects her personal hygiene so much that it even makes me throw up?

Dutch version



Pimps
Everyone these days talks about human trafficking, and the people who exploit and force a girl into prostitution. We prostitutes just like call these guys 'pimps'. The pimps are for us the bad guys, the human traffickers. By definition of course a pimp is something a little bit different than 'our' version of what a pimp is. By definition a pimp is anyone a prostitute does business with for her job that is not a client of hers. So technically these are brothel owners, people who protect the girls, even my bookkeeper. But since we don't like call the people that help us a 'pimp', we only use this word for the people that do human trafficking. For the police it doesn't matter much, in their eyes everyone that is connected to a prostitute is a pimp.

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!

Dutch version
Introduction from the Red Light District
Some of you may have heard about me through Twitter or from my boyfriend Mark van der Beer, some of you may not have. I'm Felicia Anna, a 27 year old prostitute from Romania working in the heart of the Red Light District in Amsterdam. I've been working there now for more than 4 years, unforced, unexploited and completely on my own free will. I know many of the girls on the Red Light District, either because we're from the same country (which easily forms a closer bond with someone), or because we work for the same window owner (or office as we call it), or just because they're my friends.

Before I got in touch with my boyfriend, I had no idea of the stories, witch hunt and simply false facts that where out there about my work place (the Red Light District in Amsterdam), prostitution in Holland and prostitution in general. In fact, most of the girls have no idea what's going on out there, what people are saying about them, or what's going on in this country at all. That is because most girls simply don't speak the language, they don't get involved in the conversation, nobody asks us anything or even talks to us.
In other words, most of the prostitutes don't speak out, not because they're scarred of a pimp, or because what people are saying is true, but simply because they just don't know what's going on.

About 4 years ago I came to this country to work as a prostitute in Holland. I knew what I was going to do here, and wasn't told any lies, like I was going to be a dancer, or working in a restaurant, or a model or anything. I was simply told the truth, I was going to work as a prostitute, in a country in where prostitution was a legal and honest job. Nobody forced me into this, nobody told me any lies about what I was going to do here, nobody exploited me. But in order to get to Holland, get all the papers you need, get a working place, get a place to live, you simply can't do these things on your own, so I had help with that.
The people that helped me to get here where a couple, she worked as a prostitute already in Holland for several years, and he was her boyfriend. They helped me to come to Holland, paid for my plane tickets, moved to a new place so I could stay and live with them, helped me to get registered in this country, helped me to get a working place, to get the papers I needed for my job, paid for the working place etc. I knew from the start that they would pay this for me, and I would pay them back for it, which is only natural, they spend a lot of money and time to help me out, the least I could to was pay them back the money it cost them. It was never a point of being exploited, or having a contract, or anything like that!

After about 9 months I moved out from the couple that helped me to get here, and I started living in my own. By then I knew how to get around in Amsterdam, I knew how to work, how to get things done, and didn't require their help anymore.
About two years ago I met my boyfriend. He was like many of my customers, believed I might be forced by a pimp to do this job. Of course it didn't take long for him to realize that the facts where almost the complete opposite, and that I chose to do this job. As our relationship went along and got more serious, he started to show me what people where talking about prostitutes, and all the stories that where out there.
I slowly started to realize, that all the questions many of my clients had, came from these stories about prostitutes being forced, and beaten and violently abused to work as a prostitute in Amsterdam. And the more I started to realize that, the more I began to see that there was a very big difference between those stories that are out there, and the reality on the Red Light District in Amsterdam.

The more I started to realize that a lot of stories out there where in many cases false, made up, or over exaggerated, the more I began to think that someone should do something about this. The problem was, almost nobody does anything to debunk these false stories and bring out the truth, and the people who did hardly got heard. And the more things I saw about what people where writing, or saying (either on TV or radio), the more I got angry, frustrated and almost even crying about what these people where saying about us. Until I saw Renate van der Zee in a TV show (Schepper en Co.) talking about prostitutes, and how they are all victims of human trafficking (or 'mensenhandel' in Dutch), and had no free choice to do this job, but where forced into it, either by evil pimps/loverboys or their financial situation. At that moment I got so angry at this woman, who was just telling pure lies and twisting the truth for her own good (popularity on TV and sales of books), making prostitutes like me, and many of the girls I know, friends, colleagues, even girls I don't like so much, to look bad, that I decided to speak out for myself and all those girls I know.
No prostitute or their families, not even the girls I don't like so much from my work, deserve to be treated and talked about like Renate van der Zee did on that TV show.

The disrespect this woman showed for prostitutes, their families and victims of human trafficking, by criminalizing our clients, our jobs, our boyfriends, husbands, friends and even foe's, finally got me to set up my Twitter account to speak out about it. That night I tried to talk with Renate van der Zee on Twitter. But everything I got back was denies of the truth, her own propaganda, and that 'twitter wasn't a good place for a conversation'. I thought that was rather funny, since Twitter is a place of conversations, but perhaps it was not in her best interest to keep talking to me in public, since that would expose the truth about her. Even funnier was the fact that the next day she had deleted all of her Tweets to me, probably in order to retain her image of 'defender of women and victims of prostitution', since I would not know any other reason why she would've deleted these Tweets otherwise but to cover it up to protect herself.
When I tried to comment on this action of hers, I realized she had blocked me, which really surprised me. I thought this was a woman protecting prostitutes (or at least pretending to), but how can you protect someone you don't even want to talk to? A few weeks later she was on FunX, a radio show in where she claimed she had never met a happy prostitute (radio fragment here). Well, I guess we all know why she has never met one, because when one does talk to her, she ignores and blocks them. And to even make it worse, she started to talk about Romanian girls, and how extremely poor we are up to the point where our families have nothing to eat, until we meet a guy who promises us a nice job in a bar or restaurant, to end up behind a window. This really made me angry, since I don't think Renate van der Zee ever even met the family of a girl who she's talking about. Yes, Romania is a poor country, very poor, one of the poorest countries in Europe even. But that doesn't mean that people don't have food to eat, or are starving from food like where living in Africa or something. Yes, people are poor, yes houses are sometimes bad, and yes a lot of people don't have a job, but not to the point where people are starving to death. Like in Holland, the Romanian government also gives money to people who are unemployed, people in Romania can find a job if they really want to, they don't have to starve to death like how Renate van der Zee makes it sound like. 
But perhaps the reason she never met a happy prostitute is not because they don't exist, but simply because she doesn't want to talk to them, like she doesn't want to talk to me.

Since I started on Twitter I've come to realize that there are a lot more people out there like Renate van der Zee, telling lies, twisting the truth and pretending to be heroes for prostitutes, while all they're doing is stigmatizing, criminalizing and making our world and work a more dangerous place to live in. People like current Vice-Priminister Lodewijk Asscher, who closed down many windows already on the Red Light District under the pretense of 'saving us from human trafficking', while using false information given by lying advisers such as Patricia Perquin. And where those girls saved from human trafficking? No, because nobody knows where these girls are now, and nobody looks after them. 
Or his former legal adviser in this matter, who now all of the sudden is the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan. I could go on and on with the list of people who are lying in the name of fighting human trafficking in prostitution or in general, but in fact are just making things worse for us. There are many people, and organisations, politicians and even police who are pretending to save us, but are only interested in themselves and destroying prostitution in general. And what do we get back for it? Cheese shops, fashion shops (or something pretending to be fashion), and a Red Light Museum which doesn't speak for us but is pretending to. Perhaps it's good to know that this is the oldest job in the world, and nobody has ever succeeded in destroying it, not matter how hard they try.

Yes, human trafficking exists, also in prostitution. Yes, there are girls that are forced to prostitute themselves. Although I've never met a single girl that was forced in all the years that I've been working in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, and even though I know most of the girls working here, I do believe it is possible but that these are rather exceptions than the majority. See it as a bank getting robbed, yes it happens sometimes, but that doesn't mean all the banks get robbed all the time. And yes, human trafficking is a problem that we need to deal with, but not by criminalizing my clients or prostitution itself. You're not gonna make banking illegal, simply because some people are robbing banks, it doesn't help the banks nor does it catch the bankrobbers.
All that criminalizing does is forcing it to go underground,  there where there's no protection, nobody can see or help you, and your screams are not heard. Closing down the windows will not help, all it does is that it takes away a girl's save work place, and leaving her standing in the cold, forcing her to move elsewhere or underground, where there's no protection from human trafficking or aggressive clients.
Like with liquor in the 1930's in the USA, or with softdrugs, making prostitution illegal (or it's clients) doesn't make the problem go away, the problem is still there, there's just less control and vision over it, causing criminals to get their hands on it, like Al Capone did in the 1930's. 
The only way we can save both prostitution and the victims of human trafficking, is to keep it legal, give the prostitutes more rights (in stead of just laws), and working together with the prostitutes to make the business safer and better, both for prostitutes and the victims that are out there. Prostitutes are willing to talk, if people would just listen to them, and not constantly treat them as victims or criminals.

Dutch version



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    Romanian prostitute working in the Red Light District in Amsterdam (De Wallen), speaking out for the truth behind prostitution. Blogging about prostitution, human trafficking, forced prostitution, politics and all the myths surrounding it. Member of PROUD, the Dutch union of sex workers.