New raids in Alkmaar harass sex workers
|The police raid of 2013 in Alkmaar|
And before I will jump into what has happened recently in Alkmaar, I first want to give you a little bit of background information. Alkmaar has 69 windows. But like in Amsterdam, and almost every other city in Holland with window prostitution, also Alkmaar has suffered from politicians that want to get rid of window prostitution. Once there used to be 129 windows, now only 69 remain.
When I started working in Holland in window prostitution, there wasn't any place in a window in Amsterdam, so for the first few weeks I was working from Alkmaar. I liked it there, although if I could choose now between Alkmaar and Amsterdam, I'd prefer Amsterdam since you can just make more money here with the tourists. At the time there were much more windows than there are now. I went back a while ago, and noticed how much the place has changed. So many windows have closed down.
And just like with Amsterdam, also in Alkmaar they use the stories of forced prostitution and human trafficking as a reason to close down windows. In fact, a couple of years ago (2013) they did a huge police raid in the area, in which everyone was taken down to the city hall for questioning. And with everyone I really mean everyone, all the sex workers, but also everyone that just happened to be walking in that street at the moment. Personal stuff was taken from the sex workers their workplace, including money they had earned that night, which they never got back.
Subsequently all the women that were taken to city hall were questioned separately for hours (in most cases 3 to 4 hours), until the next morning. Some women (or so I've heard) were taken to city hall still wearing their working outfit, to subsequently be interrogated for hours, getting the most privacy violating ever asked by the police and officials from the city. Questions such as: Do you enjoy having sex with you boyfriend? Do you enjoy having sex with your customers? How many times a day do you have sex with your boyfriend?
Prostitutes were intimidated, manipulated, forced and human rights were violated during this raid. They had to sign a statement in Dutch they couldn't understand because they couldn't read Dutch, and many women were angry and some even slightly traumatized because of these events.
More than 500 police officers and government officials were involved in the raid in a street not even 130 meters long, with only 57 window prostitutes. The foundation Geisha, who was still alive at that time to fight for sex workers rights, claimed to take the city of Alkmaar to court for this. That never happened, as so often with Geisha, they claimed a lot of things but never did anything for sex workers in this country.
Th city of Alkmaar later claimed the raid to be a huge success, and claimed they had arrested two people on suspicion of human trafficking. The mayor claimed that the prostitutes appreciated the attention for their position of a possible victim of human trafficking. The city of Alkmaar also claimed only 9 prostitutes were 'clean' after research, and suspected the other 48 girls of being victims. None of suspects that were arrested that night were charged with anything however. The claim that only 9 prostitutes would be clean turned out to be a false claim.
In short, the claims of the city and the mayor of Alkmaar seem to be almost the opposite of the girls themselves. The mayor claiming the women were happy to be seen as possible victims, Geisha claiming the women were not happy at all and some even slightly traumatized. A typical example of how governments lie to justify their actions against sex workers.
And now, last week an article appeared that again the city of Alkmaar is trying to intimidate window prostitutes. This time not at their workplace, but at home. But not to make the same mistake they made last time, this time the pretended to be investigating the safety of the house they were living in.
In reality however the women were woken up in the morning by a group of about 5 people, 2 of which were from the police, 3 city officials.
They didn't want to show their ID, according to statement of of the girls, but did want to ask like 80 questions. Unlike one might expect from an investigation about the safety of one's house, they were asking personal questions. Questions such as: If they were married, if they had children, if they were brought to their work by someone, if they were free to go where they wanted, how much money they made a week, if they had a protector, if someone goes with her when she does out, etc. Indeed, things that have nothing to do with the safety of one's house, but things that very much seem to be aimed at finding out of the girls are victims of human trafficking.
Now, since these women are foreign (both Bulgarian), they were not aware of the fact that they could deny them access to her house. But even if they did know, it's quite intimidating to have 5 people standing in front of your door, including two police men. Which also begs the question why the police was involved? After all, if this was an investigation for the safety of the house, as the city claimed later, why was there any police required at all?
When one of the girls asked why the police was there, they answered that was because some people didn't want to let them inside. Which proves that they couldn't really deny them access to their house, even if they wanted to, because that's why the police was there.
It seems like yet again the city of Alkmaar is trying to harass sex workers by violating their privacy, insinuating they're coerced, and violating their rights, all under false pretenses. It's a typical, and very recognizable example of how not only cities work, and politicians lie, but also about how the police works. Their methods are very recognizable for a lot of sex workers, including myself, using intimidation, abusing the lack of knowledge of local laws of foreign sex workers in their advantage to violate their privacy and their human rights.
Politicians, the police and other authorities always seem to be convinced most of us are victims, while in reality we are not. Fueled by false statistics created by the police themselves, christian organisations or rescue organisations with a financial interest to claim such thing, we are being treated as victims. A strange thing, because most of us are not victims at all, the only thing we're being victims of, is being treated like one.
And convincing others as sex worker that you're not a victim is always incredibly difficult. Things which with any other job wouldn't raise anyone's eyebrows, are in prostitution immediately seen as a clear sign of human trafficking.