The new war against clients of prostitutes
Book promotion of Renate van der Zee disguised as a symposium
Dutch abolitionist and radical feminist Renate van der Zee wrote a new book. And because she needs to sell this book, to make lots of money over it (even though she claims otherwise), she needs to promote this. And she does this by going on national TV, heavily having her friends promoting it and even an anti-prostitution organization, CKM (part of Fier Fryslan), organized an abolitionist symposium, in which she just so happens to promote her new book, and they even created a hashtag for her on Twitter to make it into a hype. Her new book is about clients of sex workers, a fetish Renate van der Zee is already focused on for a longer period of time. After all, Renate van der Zee firmly supports the Swedish model, which criminalizes clients, so writing a book about them, framing them as the 'bad guys' is the best way to achieve this.

Apparently Renate van der Zee and her select group of friends (Gert-Jan Segers from ChristenUnie, Fier Fryslan, CKM, Free a Girl, Stop The Traffik, Karina Schaapman, Frits Rouvoet, Tanja Blokland, Irene Plas, Jojanneke van den Berge, Maria Genova, Goedele Liekens etc.), who all also promote her book, have noticed they have lost the debate on coercion in sex work. The debate, which used the claim of 70% coercion, imploded in their face unexpectedly, and they didn't achieve their goal (a pimpban), so they quickly decided to claim that 'this discussion about statistics has to stop', even though they were the ones who did that. So now they have to play the game differently. And thus they shift their target from sex workers as victims to clients as the bad guys, in hopes that those clients will give them less of a fight than the sex workers they claimed to be victims.

In her book, and in her various performances in the media and during the syposium, Renate van der Zee tries to frame clients of sex workers as the 'bad guys', by claiming they are (partially) responsible for human trafficking. She mainly uses a research done by the GGD in Amsterdam among clients, called 'In gesprek met de klant' (talking with the clients), to frame them this way, by selectively using statistics in her own advantage. She tries to frame those clients as people who don't care about human trafficking or the sex workers, and wants to make it look like they are partially responsible for human trafficking to exist. Which is funny, since the same research she is using statistics from has shown that 69% of the clients feel responsible for the fate of sex workers (page 53). In short, the claim of Renate van der Zee is already proven to be false, but Renate van der Zee tries to avoid that, by using a different statistic from the same report.

For example they use the statistic of 43% of the clients which would be willing to report abuses in the sex industry from that same report (page 55). Which is weird, since that same report shows that 65,3% feels responsible for reporting abuses (page 53), and only 16.3% of the clients reports they feel it's not the responsibility to do this (page 53).
What hardly comes out however, is the reason why they don't want to report it. Because if 69% of the clients feel responsible, than why does only 43% of them want to report it? And this is because they are not capable of judging if someone is a victim of trafficking, but also they don't trust the government to improve the situation for victims if they report it (page 56). In fact, many clients state they fear the situation will only get worse if they report it, because of the way the government treats sex workers. In short, they want to, but they are not able to recognize it even if they did come across it, but also they feel the government cannot be trusted, and this is mainly due to the fact that the same government has framed sex workers for so long as victims, using false statistics.

Renate van der Zee also used a part from the research which stated that prostitutes think about their clients that 'they don't care about us' (page 61). But what she doesn't tell, is that this comes from a minority of the prostitutes of 43,6%, meaning 56,4% of the prostitutes do think their clients care, a majority. But more importantly, just that some people think this about their clients, doesn't make it true.
But the prostitutes also explain why they don't agree with this statement, as only 29,7% of the prostitutes state that their clients are capable enough of recognizing it (page 62), meaning most clients simply can't recognize it, and that's something also 55% of the clients state themselves (page 54). Also 26,2% of the prostitutes don't want their clients to meddle with their business. But more importantly, 43,6% of the prostitutes state there could be various reasons why clients don't want to report it. But since since these various reasons are all grouped together (not caring, not thinking about it, wanting to stay anonymous, don't want to get in trouble), it is impossible to state that prostitutes believe in general that their clients don't care about them, since they are not specified separately.

But the same report also states that the majority of the interviewed prostitutes describe their clients as 'good clients', being respectful, clean and sticking to the agreements. Also they state that most of their clients state that it's important to them that they visit a prostitute that is not a victim. And more importantly, none of the clients in the report ever want to use the services of a victim, and neither did they ever come across any signs that could indicate coercion (bruises, brand marks, giving a scared or frightened impression, crying, etc.) In short, exactly the opposite almost of what Renate van der Zee wants to claim, that the clients don't want to see it, and are thereby willfully ignoring the facts.

But the idea behind all these statements Renate van der Zee is making is of course to 'show' that clients don't care about the women they visit, and that they are evildoers. Because, or so explains Renate van der Zee with her anti-prostitution group, if clients don't care it means that they are allowing human trafficking to happen. And that's exactly the point they are working towards. Putting away clients as 'assholes who don't give a fuck and allow human trafficking to exist', even though the majority of the clients do feel this responsibility, just so they can claim clients should be punished and get the Swedish model introduced.

And by selecting only the statistics that work in their own advantage (like always), Renate van der Zee & Co want to make it look like it's the clients their fault that human trafficking exists. Karina Schaapman, another abolitionist who was also in the PvdA when they started Project 1012, does this during the symposium by asking 'if buying sex is a human right'. But this is of course a ridiculous statement, because so many things aren't a human right, but that doesn't make it wrong. After all, is buying a refrigerator a human right? No! Is it therefore wrong? No!
Just because buying sex, or actually buying a sexual service, is not a human right, doesn't make it wrong or anything. Even better, if you would criminalize my clients, you would make my job impossible. After all, no clients means no job. Yet, human rights state that every person on this planet has the right to free choice of employment (article 23), and Dutch law states that I have the right to decide what to do with my own body what I want (article 11).
In short it's no human right to buy sex, but so aren't any other things. But it is my right to do with my own body what I want, and it is my free choice of employment to decide what type of job I want to do. Taking away my clients, by criminalizing them, violates my human rights as well as the Dutch law.

Renate van der Zee and her anti-prostitution friends have shifted their strategy. It's not longer a debate on whether or not prostitutes do their job by choice in order to get rid of prostitution, because they have clearly lost that argument. In stead they are now attempting (again) to move towards the Swedish model, trying to frame the clients as bad guys, and get rid of prostitution in that way.
Renate van der Zee and all her friends often pretend to want to 'protect prostitutes', but they only endanger us, by stigmatizing us and our clients, making it more difficult for the sex industry to normalize and thus for prostitutes to be accepted as regular people with a regular job. This causes many difficulties for prostitutes with for example housing and financial services, causing more human trafficking. But Renate van der Zee doesn't care about that, as long as prostitution is destroyed and she can make money on it by selling her books, she's happy.

Dutch version
9 Responses
  1. Cliente X Says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HOkcyGcziE


  2. Bobby Says:

    Yeah I saw yesterday Fier's tweets from the conference and I was surprised how they are reading the GGD report. The way I read it (well, only the English summary) - it wasn't negative towards clients. It says directly that clients have an "untapped potential" to report crimes in the sex industry and that the city government should find ways to engage them more. This also corresponds with the report of Meld Misdaad Anoniem from a couple of years ago, when they ran an anti-trafficking campaign aimed at clients. They received quite a few calls about forced prostitution, which led to several victims and investigations.
    But you can't expect clients to report abuses when you vilify them and stigmatise them like Renate & Co. This is like calling me a bastard and then asking for my help - of course I'll say a big FUCK YOU and do what I want to do...


  3. Anonymous Says:

    De reddingsindustrie is niet de enige die hun campagne veranderd heeft. Justitie is er ook volop mee bezig. Er komen nog regelmatig berichten in het nieuws over de zaak uit Valkenburg met dat 16-jarige meisje. In eerste instantie werd geroepen dat ze gedwongen werd, maar -surprise surprise- dat was toch niet waar. Haar klanten zijn wel schuldig aan seks met een minderjarig meisje, hoewel ik er vergif op durf in te nemen dat ze niet wisten dat ze minderjarig was. Wat apart is , is dat dat excuus onbelangrijk gevonden wordt als het gaat om de verkoop van seksuele diensten. In elke andere sector zijn er al jaren problemen met dezelfde leeftijdskwestie, bijvoorbeeld drankverkoop in supermarkten. Daar zijn ze verplicht om tot 25 jaar legitimatie te vragen en nog gaat het mis. Vraag een hoer om haar legitimatie en ze laat je nog liever naar huis gaan zonder iets gedaan te hebben dan dat ze har identiteit prijsgeeft. Wat ik wil zeggen is dat ze de klanten steeds meer proberen af te schrikken door ze schuldig te maken zonder dat ze dat door kunnen hebben. In de legale sector kom je dan misschien geen minderjarige meisjes tegen, voor gedwongen vrouwen gelden dezelfde bangmaaktheorien. Het is niet de klant die wat aan de mensenhandel kan doen, het is wel de klant die de afweging maakt om naar de hoeren te gaan of niet. Minder klanten betekent uiteindelijk minder hoeren, dat is toch waar ze naar streven.


  4. Cliente X Says:

    Bobby, I assure u that they don`t want us to talk about what we saw. Criminalization of clients its a wise strategy to silence one of the few allies the prostitutes have. So I think that governments are doing well.


  5. Brian Victor Says:

    Greetings. I just finished reading your blog post about how many prostitutes in Amsterdam's red light district claim a history of sex trafficking. Very useful data. Since those reports are not in English, I had never heard of them before. Thank you.

    One of the things I appreciated about your post regarding force prostitution numbers was its civil tone. I recently had an online discussion with three women about Harm Reduction vs the Nordic Model and I was called names, had my arguments either distorted or ignored and even was threatened with a lawsuit.

    I bring this up because I believe that calling other people's motives into question is one of the fasted ways to prevent rational discussion. You seemed to claim here that this Renate van der Zee wants to sell her book to make money off of it and push her ideology. Could not Renate claim the same about what you want to accomplish with your blog? Both of you, I presume, have a genuine passion for what you believe in and genuinely want to help sex trafficking vicitims. I do not see that it does anyone any good to say otherwise. I hope I expressed that respectfully.


  6. Brian Victor Says:

    Moving on to the topic of your post: are sex buyers *partly* to blame for people in forced prostitution? You correctly point out that if we say "yes" then we must also accept blame as consumers for trafficking in other industries. In fact, I believe that we should take some responsibility, otherwise the problem of human trafficking isn't likely to improve. But are sex buyers truly the villains abolitionists make them out to be?

    Consider this: out of all the industries where people are trafficked, the only one that I know of where a victim is directly assaulted by the buyer is in forced prostitution. As consumers, we don't beat the cocoa plantation workers or baby sitters or waitresses or factory workers. In the case of forced prostitution, however, the consumer is literally raping the victim. Now, I grant that most sex buyers would never knowingly rape another human being, but some of them inevitably rape someone without realizing it. In my mind, that is enough reason to never be a supporter of the sex industry.

    In some ways it is similar to texting and driving. Everyone knows they run a statistical risk of crashing while texting and driving. No one intends to hurt someone in a crash that they directly caused through willful negligence. And the law, appropriately, holds them responsible.

    The question about the legitimacy of the sex industry also must be addressed. I respect that we will not see eye to eye on this, but I hope you will allow me to make a considered case.

    I grant that many women in the developed world see prostitution as a respectable profession and beneficial to society. For others, it is something they do out of desperation and they wish the johns would ask, “How can I help you get out of this?”

    Now, there is a wise saying, “Do to others as you would have done to you.” If I were a prostitute who liked what I did and felt I was contributing to the good of others, I would want my “work” legalized, protected and respected. I get that.

    On the other hand, if I were someone who hated having to give strangers access to my reproductive organs, I wouldn’t so much care about sex worker rights as I would simply want a way out. Many women (and men and transgenders) in the sex industry are in this position.

    Moreover, I might hate myself for sleeping with clients that I knew to be in a relationship, thinking, “I’m helping to destroy some other person’s beautiful dreams, because most people want a partner with the character to stay faithful.

    Even worse, I might be unknowingly giving some horrible disease to my clients who will give it to their partners. And telling myself that this is better than him having an affair might be true, but it isn’t the best thing. If I were a sex buyer’s significant other, I’d want the best thing. I’d want every prostitute that my sig other approached to tell him/her to be faithful and either work things out with his/her partner or break up and move on. I’d thank me for not helping to weaken his/her character, because it tough as it is for people to behave themselves.”

    You can see why some would not see prostitution as a very socially beneficial profession, even if it is legal. Now, a case could made that this argument doesn’t apply to men not in a relationship, but that ignores the appetites one builds in them.

    The point about the Nordic Model discouraging sex buyers from reporting what they see is well taken. Immunity for sex buyers who alert police should be built into the laws. Also, anonymous tips are still possible.

    Thank you again for the information you presented here. There is a lot of food for thought. God bless.


  7. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Brian Victor
    I don't make any money with my blog. If I would, I wouldn't be working anymore in the sex industry, would I?
    Renate van der Zee is a writer and 'journalist', meaning this is her job, and her source of income,


  8. Cliente X Says:

    Brian, now that u have found this blog u have two options. To investigate and know how sex work is in reality or keep beliving the myths that the media spread.

    It's ur choice.


  9. Brian Victor Says:

    @Felicia Anna - I understand that you don't make money directly through your blog, but your blog is an attempt to change societal values to normalize prostitution. Now, you may be right that harm reduction will do a better job than the Nordic Model at reducing the number of innocent lives destroyed by sex trafficking. The jury is still out, in my opinion. Given the harms I see perpetrated in the sex industry, I think we should continue to watch both approaches for the time being.

    On a personal note, I really do appreciate the information you have provided. It has made me think and think hard, research deeply and question many assumptions. I wish you well no matter how much we may agree or disagree. God bless you.


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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.