To be, or not to be (a victim)
Today there was a great article of Asha ten Broeke in de Volkskrant about victims and the truth behind their statements. Let me first of all state that I, and I don’t think anyone else, doubts the fact that human trafficking, exploitation and forced prostitution really happens.
But, I also know the other side of it. Girls who use those stories as an excuse for other reasons. Girls that weren’t real victims, that weren’t exploited or forced into prostitution, but claimed they were for their own reasons.

One of them was one of my best friends. A Bulgarian girl, we lived together for almost a year, and she was the only girl from the Red Light District who I really trusted enough to talk about everything with her. And likewise, because she trusted me as much as I trusted her.
She came here in 2008 to work in prostitution. Out of poverty? Not really, her parents bought her a house and a car for her 18th birthday. So much for poverty I guess. Honestly I still don’t really understand why she choose to do this job, since she didn’t really need the money. But I guess people in general just always want more than they already have.

She had told her parents she was working in Italy in a restaurant. Every once in a while she would go to Italy, rent an apartment, to make some pictures for Facebook, and sometimes she would meet her brother there, to keep up the façade that she was really working and living there.
Her boyfriend never really liked her choice of work. And after a couple of years this apparently started to bug him, as he wanted her to quit the job. In fact, if she wouldn’t quit working in prostitution, he was threatening to leave her forever. 

So she quit the job in 2012 and went home with her boyfriend. A month later she was back again in Amsterdam however. She told her boyfriend she was coming to give me a visit, but in reality she just came here to go back in prostitution. At that time I had just met my boyfriend and we were living together for only a couple of weeks, when she moved in with us until she could find a new apartment. Me and my boyfriend both witnessed what happened next. 
Because doing this sneaky thing behind the back of her boyfriend didn't last long, because a couple of weeks later he found that she was working again in prostitution. They had a big fight about it, and eventually broke up. Why? Because she choose prostitution over her boyfriend. So much for all those people that claim that nobody would choose for prostitution if they didn't have another choice I guess.

A little while later she went back again to Bulgaria. And that's where things really became tricky. Becuase one day she left the laptop open, and someone was starting to chat to her, a friend of hers from the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Her brother saw the chat coming in, and started to talk back to that girl, to which he found out the truth: she was working in prostitution in Amsterdam.
Now she found herself in a difficult position. Her cover up story that she was living and working in Italy was falling apart, and she had to come up with something. So finally she decided to admit that she was working in prostitution in Amsterdam. But, because she was scared her parents and her brother would condemn her decision to do this job, she blamed things on her ex-boyfriend. He forced me to do this job, is what she told them.

It’s easier to play the part of the victim to gain compassion, than to admit the truth that many people don’t want to accept. If you claim you’re a victim everyone loves and supports you, if you tell the truth that you choose to do this job yourself, people judge you on your choice of profession and often you’ll be excluded by people, also by family and friends.
Fact is that the stigma on sex work, is causing girls to lie about the truth. Not the ‘truth’ that they were forced into prostitution. But the truth that it was their own choice. This is a harder truth for people to accept than the idea that someone became a victim, and that is because playing the role of the victim is rewarded with love and compassion, while admitting the truth that you choose yourself for prostitution gets punished by people banishing you out of their family and friend circles.

Of course not every victim is a liar, and that’s also not what I am saying. There are plenty of victims out there of real forced labor and exploitation in prostitution. That absolutely happens. But do be aware of the fact that not everyone that claims to be a victim is a real victim. Often it’s easier to claim you were a victim, than to state you choose to do this job for yourself.
I’m not saying all stories are lies about human trafficking, I’m just saying that perhaps we should be a bit more critical about the stories we hear about human trafficking, and be a bit more critical about what victims claim.

This may sound harsh, and true enough for a real victim it must be terrible that people sometimes question your story, just because other girls hang up fake stories in order to avoid stigmatization. But unfortunately you cannot simply accept what a proclaimed victim says by default as ‘the truth’. Look more closer into the story, be more critical about it. It wouldn’t be the first time a victim turned out to be a liar, either for financial gain like Somaly Mam did or Maria Mosterd, or just simply to avoid the stigma of sex work like my Bulgarian friend did.

Perhaps if there wouldn’t be such a huge stigma on sex work, my Bulgarian friend could have just told the truth, instead of blaming her boyfriend for ‘forcing her’, while it was actually the other way around. Perhaps if there would be less stigma on sex work, there would also be less reason for sex workers to make false claims about being victims of trafficking, saving police and other authorities a lot of time and giving them more time to spend on finding the real victims and helping them.

This is just another example of how the stigma on sex work doesn’t help with the fight against human trafficking. Girls falsely claiming that they were victims because of the stigma, makes it more difficult and obscure to find the real victims.  This story is just one example, but I know more girls that did the exact same thing to avoid discrimination for their choice of profession. I even know of some guys that actually went to jail for this, because their (ex-)girlfriends made false claims about this.

We need to help the real victims, but the stigma on sex work causes some sex workers to falsely claim they were also victims to avoid the consequences of the stigma. This obscures the real problems of human trafficking, and makes it more difficult to find the real victims, while time is being spend on so called ‘fake’ victims trying to escape their stigma.

Dutch version
Jojanneke in Bulgaria
I didn't respond much on the last two episodes of Jojanneke, since they dealt more with victims from so long ago, that I didn't feel a need to reply to it, or they dealt more with illegal prostitution. But since Jojanneke her complaint is about the legalization about prostitution, I really have no idea why she keeps involving illegal prostitution, with loverboys taking young teenage girls away to make them work on the street. That's illegal, and therefore has nothing to do with the legalization. Actually, it's more of a preview of how things would look like if Holland hadn't legalized it.

So moving on from that into the last episode of Jojanneke, which was about Eastern European prostitutes. Or at least, the girls that used to be prostitutes, because no actual working girls in this episode. The only real working girls we saw were in the first episode, and most weren't even working in Amsterdam, and only one Eastern European girls was spoken to. Because this episode again we only get to talk with ex-victims (again).

You can reason this in both ways. Either there are no other girls to talk to, because they're all victims. Or Jojanneke has only talked with very few working girls, since she wanted to focus more on the missery from the past rather than reality at this moment. It's all fine by me, but than perhaps you should have changed the name of your TV show. Here are some idea:

"Jojanneke in Human Trafficking"
"Jojanneke using the same shit we saw already again"
"Jojanneke, only showing one side of the medal"
"Jojanneke in the EO version of prostitution (meaning censored)"
Or my personal favorite:
"Jojanneke supports Christian politics"

This episode we see: Lina (same girl that we saw already 2 years ago at BNN), some random ex-victims that didn't work in Holland, a real case from not too long ago to show you that this shit still happens today and the police is on it (no need for a pimp ban there), and a pimp so successful he still hasn't fixed his teeth with all those millions and still lives in the shittiest part of Sliven in a shitty house.

Watching Jojanneke is a little bit like how I was thinking to make a show about traffic in Holland. No, not trafficking, traffic, you know, as in cars and freeways and stuff! I call it "Felicia in Traffic".
In this show I will claim to focus on the traffic safety in Holland, interviewing mostly drunk drivers, illegal street racers and victims of car accidents. My music score will exist of the most annoying soundtrack ever with nerve wrecking music even if things aren't that shocking, to make it look more shocking. And I will interview only 4 'regular' drivers, trying to suggest that they drink too much to drive safely.

If I didn't know any better, I swear I would have believed Jojanneke grew up in either China or North Korea, as she has fully mastered the skills of propaganda. Showing only one side of the medal, claiming this is the entire medal. The very little sides she shows of the other side of that medal, quickly gets put away as 'shady' as well, using suggestive questions and voice overs.

What really bugged my about this last episode was two things. Again they try and make it look like Eastern Europe looks like the poorest place on earth, visiting one of the two gypsy areas in Sliven (Bulgaria), and presenting them as 'this is where our prostitutes are from', while in fact most prostitutes at the Red Light District for example aren't even gypsy.
I keep hearing the same dumb shit over and over again, that Holland is full of gypsy prostitutes. Now I don't know about the rest of the country, but in the Red Light District this certainly isn't the case. In fact, from all the girls I know, I know only one girl who is only half gypsy. Now either Amsterdam's Red Light District is the exception on this rule (which would be really surprising since almost all stories about prostitution are usually about us), or this is complete bullshit, and you people don't even know what a real gypsy looks like.
So, to make it clear, these are gypsies:


And these are regular Bulgarian people:

The difference? It's easy to see. Gipsy people are brown. Their skin color is brown, almost like they're from India, and they even have more similarities in facial features with people from India than with people from Romania and Bulgaria. That isn't so weird, since gypsies originated from North-West India a long, long time ago. Gypsies are also easy to spot besides their brown colored skin, as they often have teeth missing (sorry but it's true).
Now go ask 1000 customers from the Red Light District in Amsterdam, and ask them which of both of these groups looks more like the girls they visit? Is it picture A, the gypsies? Or picture B, the Bulgarians, which look kinda similar to Romanian girls? Let me guess: you thought the woman in the picture B looks a lot like those girls from the Red Light District, am I correct? You can comment down below!

So, now that we have this bullshit out of the way. Let's talk a bit about Sliven. According to Jojanneke one of the poorest cities in the country, almost a true hell hole for people to live in. Almost making you believe they have really no other option to escape from this hell, but to go to work in prostitution.
And than again, there's reality. Because the footage Jojanneke showed us of Sliven was very selective. Nice houses were described as 'villa's from pimps', and the two parts of the city where gypsies live were presented as the situation of the 'regular' Bulgarians, including of course the famous 'horse and carriage' that of course had to be in the show. They do the same shit with my country and even the city I'm from in Romania as well. Always find the shittiest places, including that stupid horse and carriage that only gypsies use, and present that as the avarage image of Romania or my city. Always trying to make it look like we're so fucking poor, our houses look more like an African tent than a house, as if we're living in a third world country.

 

 

 

Here are some random pictures from Sliven, not taken in the 'pimp neighborhood'. As you can see not quite as 'poor' as they tried and make it look like. And the exact same thing applies actually for a lot of Romanian cities and villages, as for example also my hometown.

Showing gypsy places as representative to Sliven, or any Bulgarian or Romanian place, is bullshit. Most girls that work here aren't gypsy to begin with, and their homes certainly don't look like that. How do I know that about Sliven? Well, because some of my best friends come from Sliven, that's why! And what the TV show showed us, was yet again finding the shittiest place to shoot, and present that as if that's where they would come from. And subsequently shooting villa's, and claiming that this is the 'Dutch neighborhood', because so many pimps would live here, that bought these house with money they made in Holland.

Funny thing is, that nobody reports about this 'Dutch neighborhood' of pimps, except for the Dutch media. And even the girls I've talked to from Sliven themselves have never heard of such a thing. This is an urban myth. Just because there are villa's there, and lots of girls from Sliven work here, doesn't automatically mean all those villa's belong to pimps. This rumor has been going for a while now, and it's purely a myth.
If this myth was true, there had to be evidence that at least most of those houses are owned by pimps, and payed with money from prostitution. Yet, if they could prove that, these pimps would be in jail already, and the house sold for compensation money for the victim, since it would be proof of exploitation.

Jojanneke is showing a one sided story, manipulated and twisted to make it look like this is representative for our industry. She's using only bad examples to present to people as if this is the reality for the entire industry. Either that, or she named her TV show wrong, and it should have been called: 'Jojanneke investigating human trafficking', because that's all she showed.
This wasn't a show about prostitution, it was a show about human trafficking. And the most annoying part is that there's always so high placed asshole that makes a stupid false claim, like in this case for example Warner ten Kate, who made a claim that 70% of the prostitutes would be forced, even though he has absolutely no good research to base this on and didn't do any research himself.

Yes, human trafficking happens, nobody ever claimed it didn't. There are girls being exploited, and girls being forced to work. We know this already. If you wouldn't have spend so much time making bullshit reports for PowNews back than, perhaps you would have noticed that people in Holland actually already haven't been thinking prostitution is about 'freedom and happiness' ever since the case of Saban B. already. back in 2008.
Nobody is living anymore under the assumption in Holland that forced prostitution and exploitation isn't happening. But you're one sided documentary, which makes it look like almost every (or at least 70%) of the prostitutes would be forced is absolute bullshit.

You didn't bring anything new to the table, but re-hashed the same shit, and the same victims we already saw before in countless other TV shows to show us the same one-sided story Eveline Hölksen from Free A Girl and many other moral crusaders and money grabbing organizations have showed us already. Presenting the world of prostitution as a place of only misery and sadness.
You've failed to start a debate about this, since this debate was already started years ago, after the story of Saban B. came out. Since than we've heard the same record being played over and over again, only talking about the misery in prostitution, but without the voice of real sex workers.
You are just another example of that, using mainly victims to tell your stories and presenting this as representable for the entire industry, while heavily editing the voice of real sex workers in your advantage to make them look sad, hardly letting them voice their own opinion that they are not sad and don't need to be saved.

You've failed at everything you set out to do. Your goal for a pimp ban has already been shot down by the National Rapporteur. Your goal to 'prove' the legalization of prostitution has 'failed', has backfired into giving real sex workers a podium in the media. And your goal to shake Holland awake about the trafficking in prostitution came years too late, as the case of Saban B. already did that in 2008. Your show is nothing new, and I'm truly disappointed, I expected you would take things one step further from what we've seen before, but in stead you repeated the same old shit again in a new show. Still doesn't change the fact that's it's the same old shit all over again, Jojanneke!

What sex workers and victims need are rights! Not more repressive laws that only cause more human trafficking than it fights. Not more moralistic bullshit from moral crusaders, or money grabbing rescue organisations that make false claims and increase the stigma. Not more research for moral purposes. We need rights! Because only rights can fix the wrongs. After all, no slave from the 18th century was saved by rescues, but by giving them more rights!

Dutch version


PROUD responds to Gert-Jan Segers his attack on sexwork
Some while ago Gert-Jan Segers from the ChristenUnie, together with the more extreme religious political party SGP, requested in parliament, to do research which would ‘prove’ that the legalization of prostitution in Holland has ‘failed’.  It is no secret that Gert-Jan Segers is anti-prostitution. He constantly tries to dominate the debate and constantly tries to come up with legislation that looks to fight human trafficking by the naked eye, but when examined closer is just another attempt to criminalize parts of prostitution.

In the last few years he has tried to: research the Swedish model in hopes of getting Holland interested in this (together with Myrthe Hilkens from the PVDA), tried to criminalize clients that ‘should have known’ they were using the services of a victim, and recently did a second attempt at introducing a pimp ban, of which even the National Rapporteur Human Trafficking has just stated this is unnecessary, since the law already offers enough tools to do this with the current human trafficking law, just like I stated earlier.
All these measures sound good at first maybe, trying to protect victims, but that’s exactly the problem. They ‘look’ good, but in reality they are not, because they criminalize things, pushing them underground, making it more difficult to help victims instead of easier. For Gert-Jan Segers of course this is the whole point, the more he will push prostitution underground, the more problems it will cause in prostitution, the more he can claim he was right that ‘prostitution wasn't a normal job'.

His request to compare human trafficking statistics from other countries with Holland in an attempt to prove that the Dutch legalization of prostitution in Holland has ‘failed’ is another one of those things. At first you might think this is a good idea, to compare ourselves with other countries, to see if the Dutch model has been a success or not. But that’s only to the naked eye.
Because there’s a huge problem with comparing these kind of things. Different countries use different definitions of human trafficking, making it impossible to compare them. Poor statistical research and incompatible definitions make it impossible to compare these things, and will therefore create a false image.

The result of this research would be useless, since the very basis of the research is already flawed, namely the incompatible data. No doubt it would say that Dutch human trafficking statistics are higher, but that doesn't mean that this is really the case. There’s a huge difference between what countries register on paper, and what is happening in reality, which all comes down to how you define things and register them, and what type of prostitution model the country uses.
Of course Gert-Jan Segers is well aware of this, as this is exactly his goal. Using a flawed research which gives a false image about reality, in an attempt to ‘prove’ that the legalization of prostitution in Holland has ‘failed’. He however hopes to deceive other politicians with this flawed research of incompatible data sets in an attempt to criminalize (parts of) sex work, for moral and religious reasons.

To point this out to politicians the (soon to be official) Dutch sex workers organization PROUD has written a letter. The letter also has been signed by the ICRSE (International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers Europe), and almost 50 experts and human right activist on the subject of prostitution and/or human trafficking as well as various other organisations with knowledge about sex work , to point out the flaws of making such a research.
I am a member of PROUD myself, and have been with them since the very first meeting. The people of PROUD have morally supported me the past year with writing my blog, and I fully support their goals and this letter they have written. Therefore I strongly advice everyone, especially politicians to read this letter and stop a pointless and flawed research from being made, which could be used for the wrong reasons.

I am PROUD to be part of an organisation that is filling in the gap De Rode Draad has left after they went bankrupt in 2012, because they didn't receive any funding anymore. PROUD represent my voice, as well as many other sex workers that are part of this organisations, that are trying to improve the rights for sex workers in Holland.

Read the letter PROUD has sent to members of parliament here.

Dutch version
Gert-Jan Segers his pimp ban
Tuesday is anti-prostitution day here in Holland, ever since Jojanneke van den Berge started broadcasting her anti-prostitution documentary here on TV on that day. And of course completely by coincidence, also on this day Gert-Jan Segers from the ChristenUnie (Evangelic Christian political party) is doing a new attempt to get a ‘pimp ban’.
The ‘pimp ban’ was lifted in 2000 together with the brothel ban, making brothels legal and therefore offering a safe and legal workplace for sex workers, and only bad pimps were made punishable with the human trafficking law. 

In short, what Gert-Jan Segers is asking for, already exists. This law is called the human trafficking law, and is found under the article 273f. All the things that you would expect, or would want to be illegal and punishable (such as beating prostitutes with a bat to make them work for you), are already covered under that law.
And that’s exactly the same conclusion also Minister Opstelen came to about a year ago, when he already denied the previous attempt of Gert-Jan Segers to create a pimp ban. According to Minister Opstelten pimps already can be handled with the current human trafficking legislation.
Opstelten also pointed out last year that the Justice department is making a lot of progress in the fight against human trafficking, since the number of convictions have never been higher before.

So why is Gert-Jan Segers trying again to do the same thing he failed to do a year ago? Well, because now of course there’s Jojanneke’s program, in which at the beginning of each episode they falsely state that pimping is legal here in Holland. Jojanneke says that it is 'legal in Holland to put a woman behind the window when you’re a pimp, as long as she agrees with it of course'.
But in reality that’s not true at all. After all, when a pimp 'puts a woman behind the window', than he's deliberately taking advantage of her, which is called exploitation and falls under the human trafficking law under article 273f. So no, it's not legal to put a woman behind the window as a pimp, even stronger, repeatedly men have been convicted for this.

In Gert-Jan Seger his defense he's using the argument that now often it's difficult to find evidence and prove in court that someone is doing this. But than again, a new law criminalizing something which is already illegal and criminal, doesn't create new evidence or new tools. They're just the same tools en evidence in a new law.
A new law doesn't magically create new evidence in a case. It doesn't magically all of the sudden 'prove' that someone was exploited, forced or abused. If the human trafficking law can't do this, this new pimp ban also won't be able to do this, since the same problem still exists: lack of evidence. There is no law that can create new evidence.

So what is Gert-Jan Segers really after? It's clear it's not really was he claiming to be after, coercion, exploitation and abuse of women in prostitution. After all, they are all already punishable under the human trafficking law. But than again, Gert-Jan Segers keeps using the specific word 'pimp'. And like I've explained here before, a pimp is not by definition the same thing as the bad pimp people have in mind when they think about Saban B, which for the law is called a human trafficker. A pimp doesn't always exploit, abuse or coerce someone. A pimp is nothing more than a person the prostitute is working for. In short, anyone who profits from a prostitute, including brothel owners, escort agencies, etc. is a pimp. Not every pimp is bad, en those that are, are called human traffickers. So it could be that Gert-Jan Segers is attempting to criminalize legal brothels under the 'pimp ban', selling it as a 'pimp ban', while in fact just being nothing more than a tool to criminalize anyone that offers prostitutes work or a place to work in.

The other option could be, that Gert-Jan Segers is not after the brothels (after all, they have a permit), and he's more after other people. People like my boyfriend, a sex worker her husband, or anyone else that indirectly profits from prostitution, because they share a house hold together. You could argue that any of those people are also 'pimps', since they also profit from prostitution. But than again, which person does not profit in one way or another from his or her partner's income? In a shared household it's almost impossible to keep them separate.
And it looks like Gert-Jan Segers is aiming for this option, criminalizing not just traffickers (bad pimps), but also partners of sex workers or anyone else that profits from our income, with this new 'pimp ban'. In short, he's trying to make our lives more difficult in an attempt to make us quit our job, since all of our boyfriends, husbands, heck even my mother could get arrested since she definitely profits from prostitution even though she doesn't even know it!

So no! This new law is not a good idea. Not because I like pimps, but simply because I am trying to protect any loved ones that might be criminalized with this law. Exploitation, coercion, abuse, these are all things that are already illegal and criminal. Making a new law won't change that, it can't get 'extra' illegal or criminal or something. And it also doesn't provide any new tools, since it is already illegal. And neither does it create new evidence. 
The only thing this new law will do, is criminalize people that are not supposed to be criminals. I'm not sure exactly which ones he's after, but it's either the brothels or (my guess) our loved ones, in an attempt to bring prostitution down to it's knees. And I will not let that happen, since those people aren't pimps! That's my fucking family! And you don't fucking touch my family or anyone else that I love! It's my money, I decide what I do with it, and not you, fucking Gert-Jan Segers!

And it's also with law proposals like these, that it becomes clear who is in favor of, and who is against prostitution. Any person that is really willing to fight coercion, exploitation and abuse in prostitution, knows these things are already illegal and punishable, and a new law isn't going to change that. This means that whoever supports this law, doesn't really care about that, they have a hidden agenda, which is to ban prostitution. It's no surprise that Gert-Jan Segers came up with this idea, after all, his whole political party has always been against prostitution. He can try to pretend his morals aren't getting in the way, but it's super obvious that this is the case, and is even the driving force for him to take on the subject of prostitution.
Bur what you can really see good right now, is who is against prostitution. Any person that supports this law, like for example Jojanneke van den Berge, shows with her support to this idea, that she's not really against trafficking as much as she is just purely against prostitution on itself. And of course the EO themselves fully support this idea, as well as all of it's members, all people against prostitution. Leo van Doesburg is another one of those christian moral crusaders who's against prostitution which supports this idea. Also Chris Sent (from CKM/Fier Fryslan) is in favor of this law, even though she still pretends to be not against prostitution (don't worry Chris, I know you blocked me on Twitter for a reason). PVDA Amsterdam is in favor of this law (obviously has nothing to do with their intention to reduce the Red Light District). In fact, anyone that supports this plan is either against prostitution, or extremely un-knowledgeable about prostitution, which is usually more the case for the readers of the Viva forum and other uninformed citizens.

Segers is hoping everybody will support the plan, because everybody is against pimps. He knows 99% of the people don't know the difference between a pimp and a trafficker, and is abusing this in his advantage to strike hard into prostitution. He knows very well what he's doing, and he's carefully planned this thing out together with the EO and Jojanneke.
After all, tonight's TV show of Jojanneke is about pimps. But even before one single image has been broadcasted, Gert-Jan Segers is already jumping ahead. I knew that when Jojanneke was coming with her TV show, this was an attempt of Christian and rescue organizations to attack prostitution again. It was so obvious, the negative way they present prostitution was only to justify a law in the making, and now their plans have revealed itself. Make no mistake, Jojanneke her program was a well coordinated attack by the ChristenUnie, who frequently uses its EO broadcast channel in an attempt to get their ways.
I hope now it has become obvious that Jojanneke her TV show is far from objective, it was a set-up for Gert-Jan Segers to do another attack on prostitution using a ‘pimp ban’ as a disguise. Pimps however are already criminals if they do any of the things Gert-Jan Segers describes, due to the human trafficking law, so he’s really after something else.
His last attempt last year failed, now with Jojanneke her program he’s doing a second attempt to attack prostitution. He pretends to care about the prostitutes, but in reality only cares about his religion and his own morals.

I mean, isn’t it super surprising that exactly when Jojanneke her show is being broadcasted, just at that moment he comes up with this? You can’t tell me this wasn’t planned. The episode to which he’s actually referring hasn’t even aired yet, but will be aired tonight. Segers is using an episode that will be aired tonight as a propaganda tool to pass this new law. He using the push this program will give him, the media exposure, the attention, the extra push he needs to pass this law. Don't let this law pass, since it doesn't criminalize anything that isn't criminal already, accept the people we don't want to become criminals, like my brothel owner or my loved ones. This law is no attack on the abuses in prostitution, it's an attack on prostitution itself below the belt.

(Update 22/01/2015 17:38: In the original article it was mentioned incorrectly that the pimp ban was lifted already in 1982/1983. This however turned out to be not correct after a tip from CKM on Twitter. In 1982/1983 there was a law proposal to lift the pimp ban, but this proposal was withdrawn in 1993, and finally got lifted in 2000 together with the brothel ban. With thanks to CKM for this correction).

Dutch version



Improving sex workers rights: Housing
A lot of journalists always ask me what would need to improve for sex workers rights. And since I get that question asked so many times, I though it would be a good idea to make a list of them. The list not only explains what would need to change, but also how it improves sex workers rights, and even how it fights human trafficking.
Because as opposed to what many people believe, sex workers rights and fighting human trafficking (exploitation and coerced prostitution), go hand in hand. After all, also freeing the slaves during the slavery happened by giving people more rights, and not by limiting their options.
In this first episode we'll talk about housing, and how stopping discrimination against sex workers on the house marker can not only improve their position, but even fight human trafficking!

Housing
The problem?
Having a place to live is one of the most basic human rights. Still most sex workers are being refused by house owners and real estate agencies. They are scared to associate themselves with prostitution, due to the bad image. They're either scared we'll attract 'scare looking people', or that it will get them involved with crimes such as human trafficking and money laundering. This is the stigma of sex workers.
This causes sex workers to have huge difficulties to find a place to live. Most people will refuse you, and only a handful of people are willing to rent you an apartment or a house. Those people that are willing to rent you a place to live basically fall into two categories:

1. People that don't have a problem with sex workers
2. Slum landlords that know the problems sex workers have and know they are vulnerable enough to take advantage of.

The people that don't have problem with sex workers are great. They are often kind and understanding about your situation, but are rare to find. The second type however is a different story. They are the slum landlords that provide bad quality housing, often with old/broken furniture, a mouse plague, broken dishwashers/wash machines/kitchens etc. They ask a high price for their overpriced shitty apartments, but they also know sex workers are desperate for a place to live, so they don't have much of a choice and are willing to pay the high price. Also these slum landlords often have problems with the government for their poor quality (sometimes even dangerous) housings.

The problems to find housing for sex workers often causes immigrant sex workers from for instance Romania and Bulgaria to live together, since they can't all find a place to live. Often the police sees foreign sex workers from Bulgaria and Romania living together as a 'sign of trafficking', while in fact it's a sign of discrimination against sex workers from real estate agents and landlords.
(An example of how we got refused from one of our many searches for a place to live)

How to fight this problem?
Actually it's very simple. The government should not allow house owners, landlords and real estate agents to discriminate against sex workers. This problem has already existed since the day prostitution got legalized here, and has already been mentioned many times, but in 15 years time the government has done nothing about this. I've heard both mayor Eberhard van de Laan and minister Opstelten talk about this many times, yet they have done nothing about it thus far, and in stead have only done things to make our lives more difficult with more regulation and closing down more workplaces, forcing many sex workers either to leave the country for other countries where again the chance exists that they could become victims of trafficking, or forcing them into illegal prostitution, with again a chance of becoming victims of trafficking. In short, they almost seem to want to make us (real) victims of human trafficking.

The solution however lies within not discriminating people based on their profession, as long as it's a legal profession of course. That way sex workers would not be refused a place to live, sex workers would more easily be able to find a place to live, this would prevent sex workers from foreign countries to seek help from traffickers who want to exploit them, and it would cause less foreign sex workers to live together as they do now, making it more easy to be able to separate them from the real victims who also often live together. It's a very simple thing, if you increase the contrast between those that are victims and those that are not, it becomes easier to see who are the real victims.

How it fights human trafficking?
Human trafficking for the largest part exists out of exploitation rather than coercion. And the reason why people are being exploited, is because they require help with things the government doesn't help us with. Simple things such as housing. Like I said, sex workers are often being refused by landlords and real estate agencies. This causes sex workers to have huge difficulties to find a place to live.
Now, for Dutch sex workers this is difficult already, but not a problem they can't handle themselves. After all, they're Dutch, they know the language and they can be creative in their solutions, due to the fact that it's their own country.

Now imagine a sex worker from Romania or Bulgaria. Not familiar with the Dutch or English language, making it already difficult to find a place to live. And even if they do find a possible place to live, they get refused 90% of the time. So they need help with this. Just like any other immigrant needs help from locals to find a place to live.
But even if you would be able to find a place to live, with someone that accepts your job, they still want prove of your income, that you're able to pay for it. But of course, that's impossible, since they haven't started working yet, therefore their only income was the previous income from their home country, which obviously isn't sufficient enough to support the rent.

To give you an example: Most of the apartments in which I lived thus far were around 1500 euro rent a month. That's an average price for an apartment in the center of Amsterdam. You could of course argue that you could also live further away from the center, but than again, how are you going to get home in the middle of the night all alone?
Yeah, you can get a taxi, but paying a taxi each day to go back from work, in the end costs more than it saves money on your rent. In short, it's cheaper to pay 1500 euro rent a month, than to pay less for an apartment but in the end pay more for your transport back home.
Now, when you rent an apartment, they'll ask you pay of course the month's rent, plus one month ahead plus one months rent worth for the agency. In short, you pay for the first time you rent an apartment 3 times the rent, which comes down to 4500 euro.
Now, when you imagine that the average income for someone form Romania or Bulgaria is somewhere around 200 euro a month, you'll see what the problem is. They simply cannot afford this. And that is assuming that you actually found an apartment which the owner is willing to rent out to a sex worker, and assuming that the owner won't mind the fact that you don't have a fixed income or any guarantees to give regarding your income, after all you haven't worked a single day yet.

Right now the help to find a place to live for foreign sex workers often gets provided by people who are seeking to exploit sex workers. After all, they know sex workers from Eastern Europe need help with this, and the Dutch government does nothing to stop this discrimination, therefore they offer their help to find a place to live, but obviously with the intention to exploit the sex worker. In short, they fill in the gap that the government created by not fighting the discrimination against sex workers. They help the sex workers from for instance Romania and Bulgaria to find a place to live in exchange for a part of their income (usually a 50/50 deal), these are human traffickers.
Now the people that accept these kind of constructions with housing, are usually the slum landlords. They too know sex workers from Eastern Europe are desperate for a place to live, they know they can offer them the most shitty apartment imaginable, since they will already be very happy to have found one at all! Prices for these shitty (and often dangerous) apartments range from 1500 to 2000 euro, a price the trafficker will pay, and the exploited prostitute will have to earn back.

Fortunately there are many sex workers that are willing to help other girls to find a place to live. But fact is that they can't, due to the discrimination. So what happens is that often girls help each other to come here, they offer their own place to live (for free) as a solution until the girl can pay for her own apartment. Of course, this creates situations in where girls live together, which according to the police, is again a sign of human trafficking.
But than again, how else are girls supposed to move here, without help from anyone without being suspicious? There is simply no way! Even if you have all the money in the world, people often don't accept your job, and you're not familiar enough with the country to be able to figure things out for yourself. Girls simply need help, without it it's impossible. And fact is that many girls offer other girls help, but even than the police nowadays are starting to see the girls helping other girls as 'human traffickers', because they are helping with the immigration, which is according to the human trafficking law (273f) human trafficking!
As you see, there's no escape from it. Whatever you do, however you want to, there's no escape from either really becoming a victim, or the police 'thinking' that you're a victim, because you shows signs that are similar to those that are real victims. And fact is, that most girls, 'technically' speaking, are as much victim of human trafficking as they are also human traffickers themselves. But that;s only due to the fact that the current human trafficking law forbids any help one offers to the immigration of sex workers.

In short, if you really want to fight human trafficking, and if you really care that much about prostitutes, than the choice should be very simple. Don't discriminate sex workers. It not only makes their lives more difficult with finding a place to live, it even pushes them into the hands of human traffickers who greedily take advantage of the gap the government has created, to exploit them.
Furthermore, it would also solve the problem of groups of sex workers living together that are not victims, since every sex worker would be able to find a place to live without problems. Thereby increasing the contrast between those sex workers that ARE victims, and ARE living in one group in one house, because for example they are forced.

The more you increase the difference between those that are not forced and those that are, the easier it becomes to see who are really forced and who are not. But in order to create this contrast, you would first need to give sex workers the rights they (and every other human being) deserve. A place to live!

Dutch version
What do the rapports say about forced prostitution?
A lot has been said about how many prostitutes are forced. Numbers keep flying around that range from anywhere between 8% to 90%. So I decided to give a good and final overview of the researches my and my boyfriend could find with actual numbers about this. We spend a lot of time on going through them and trying to figure out where the numbers come from exactly, what they're based upon and who they are based on. I have put the researchers in descending order, meaning we start with the highest number and work our way down to the lowest number with a conclusion at the end to wrap things up. I would like to state that these numbers are not my personal opinions, but simply the numbers as they can be found in the rapports with the page numbers to help you find them. The titles of the rapports will lead you directly to the rapport itself, so it should be easy to verify my findings.

KLPD Schone Schijn (2008)
This rapport is also known as the Sneep-research, but later got a new cover on it and was re-named to Schone Schijn. This rapport speaks of 50 to 90% forced and/or exploited prostitution. It is often being mentioned in the media, mostly by politicians. Also Gert-Jan Segers and Myrthe Hilkens used these numbers when they defended their quest to do research about the Swedish model on the Dutch TV talkshow of Pauw & Witteman. Furthermore Jojanneke van den Berge her claim of 70% forced prostitution is based on an interview with Werner ten Kate, who based this upon this research together with the Koolvis case, as you can read here.

What is the 50-90% based upon?
The 50 to 90% is based upon the estimations of only 6 people from the police (page 76). It is not based upon any research or interviews with the target group itself, the prostitutes, but on near guesswork. Interesting detail is here that 18 police officers were questioned (page 134), but only 6 answered the question (page 76). The other 12 police officers stated that it was impossible to give any estimations.

Is it reliable?
The police and other government authorities themselves always claim that they have little insight in the problems of human trafficking and forced prostitution. So keeping that in mind with the fact that this number is based on estimations of only 6 people from the police themselves I'd have to say: NO.

Bureau Beke Kwetsbaar Beroep
This rapport is often mentioned as a rapport that would say that 30-40% of the prostitutes are forced. The rapport however doesn't get mentioned very often, as other more extreme statistics exist for interest groups of both sides to claim.

What is the 30-40% based upon?
The 30-40% get's only mentioned in the rapport (page 164), but is never actually used by the rapport itself as a conclusion. In the rapport it literally states:

"Sommigen, onder andere uit de hoek van politie, noemen de eerder genoemde schatting van 90 procent uit het Sneep-onderzoek ‘overdreven’ en vinden 30-40 procent realistischer."

Translation:
"Some others among which people from the police, called the earlier made estimation of 90 percent from the Sneep-research 'exaggerated' and think 30-40 percent is more realistic."

Is it reliable?
Given the fact that it is (again) only mentioned by other people as a number, we would have to conclude that it's not very reliable. Also the fact that the rapport only interviewed 8 prostitutes (page 223), gives away that the researchers did not spend a lot time talking with the target group itself. Besides that it does put more question marks surrounding the reliability of the Schone Schijn rapport. So I'd have to say: NO.

ASO De Amsterdamse Prostitutie Monitor (2010)
This rapport speaks of 10% forced prostitution. It hardly ever gets mentioned in the media, despite the fact that the research is done among 94 women from the Red Light District in Amsterdam itself.

What is the 10% based upon?
The 10% is based upon the answers of 94 prostitutes who were interviewed anonymously (page 29). The research was done in the Amsterdam Red Light District areas, making it only useful when we speak about window prostitution in Amsterdam, and not representative for prostitution as a whole or other forms of prostitution.

Is it reliable?
One could question the honesty of the answers, because often people claim that prostitutes themselves would be scared to admit it because of their pimp. However, the research was done anonymously, which would take away any doubts about not answering it truthfully. After all, nobody will find out it was you who answered it, thus you would be safe from your pimp.
Also the fact that 9 girls admitted being forced during the anonymous interviews, shows that apparently the women are not scared to say it, which goes in against the assumption that they would be scared.

Scharlaken Koord
This rapport is not available anymore online, but we know of it's existence, since it gets mentioned in many other rapports as well (Kwetsbaar Beroep for instance). We know that the conclusion of the rapport was 8% forced prostitution.

What is the 8% based upon?
We know from other rapports that mentioned the research from Scharlaken Koord, that 220 prostitutes from the Red Light District were interviewed. Unfortunately the source is not available online anymore, but given the fact that this many prostitutes were interviewed for the rapport, it is likely they are based upon the answers of the prostitutes themselves.

Is it reliable?
Given the fact that the research was done by a christian organisation focused on helping prostitutes who became in victims, which is located in the Red Light District itself, and given the fact that christian organisations usually give very high estimates due to their moral issues surrounding prostitution, it sounds likely these numbers could be correct. Also given the fact that the answers (probably) came from 220 prostitutes themselves, would defend the notion that these could be accurate.
Another interesting detail is that Scharlaken Koord themselves often claim that 80% are forced, even though their own research states otherwise, but perhaps this could explain the absence of the source itself online. After all, they are an organisation depending on donations, and they therefore have a financial interest in claiming high statistics for their own benefit, something we often see from rescue organisations.

Regioplan Evaluatie Opheffing Bordeelverbod (2006)
This rapport was done for the WODC for the Ministery of Justice in Holland. It usually only gets mentioned in numbers, when people say: "The numbers range from anywhere between 8 to 90%, so we don't know." This rapport shows that only 8% would be forced.

What is the 8% based upon?
The 8% is based upon the interviews done with 354 prostitutes (page 6) throughout the entire country and in various different types of prostitution, from window prostitutes to prostitutes working in brothels and so on (page 7). Also 11 male prostitutes were interviewed (page 7), which is a group that is often forgotten, but not less alive even though they only are about 3% of the total interviewed prostitutes.

Is it reliable?
This is the largest group of prostitutes ever interviewed in Holland about their own profession for a research about this. Beyond that, the statistics come from their own answers. Of course one might question the reliability of their answers, but than again, so can one question the reliability of the answers a prostitute gives to a police man. Also, the fact that 32 of the interviewed prostitutes stated that they are being forced, shows that apparently they are not scared to admit it, which again goes in against the assumption that they would be afraid to do so.

The Nationaal Rapporteur (2013)
The Nationaal Rapporteur is the person who anually gives out a rapport about human trafficking. In her latest numbers the Rapporteur comes to 1437 'possible'victims. It does not speak of percentages, but based upon the estimated 20.000 prostitutes in Holland this would come down to about 7,18%.

What is the 1437 'possible' victims based upon?
The 1437 are based upon numbers from CoMensha (page 4), which is the organisation that collects all the data of possible victims that are registered by the government and NGO's. The numbers come for example from the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (KMar), who have a registration obligation for each 'possible' victim they come across (page 26). This means that every person the KMar thinks could be a victim, has to be registered, regardless of the fact if she really turns out to be a victim or not. A few examples of this can be found in the full rapport here, in where they write (page 78):

"In the course of the controls of the so-called “risk flights” out of Bulgaria, the ‘sluisteam’ (part of the border control) of the KMar [Koninklijke Marechaussee: Royal Dutch Marechaussee, or Marshals] spoke with a Bulgarian woman. This woman has been checked multiple times by the KMar when she arrived in the Netherlands, and she indicated that this was tedious. She claims to (“still”) not have anything to do with prostitution. This time she says that she is coming to the Netherlands for 3 days to visit a number of friends.  From further observation by the KMar officers to identify a possible person picking her up it seems that the woman went to the information desk of the Dutch Railway (Nederlandse Spoorwegen or NS), then made contact with someone via a public telephone, and made contact with someone again with her mobile phone. She subsequently left the airport by train. The KMar registered the woman with CoMensha."

And another example here (page79-80):
"In the course of the controls of the so-called “risk flights” out of Bulgaria, the ‘sluisteam’ (part of the border control) of the KMar at Schiphol spoke with a highly educated Bulgarian woman. The woman admitted during a conversation with the KMar officers that she has lived in Amsterdam since sometime in 2010 and since about then has worked as a prostitute in the Netherlands, for which she registered herself with the Chamber of Commerce. She couldn’t give her monthly earnings from prostitution, but she does report that the earnings are not much and that she has kept a written record of the precise details. She can give her expenses, which concern 1,250 euros for the rent of her house, 90 euros for the rent of a window during the day and 100 euros for the rent of a window at night. After the conversation with the woman, the KMar officers observed whether the woman would be picked up. However, this seemed not to be the case: the woman simply left the airport by taxi. She was reported for registration with CoMensha."
(Read more about this on Marijke Vonk her website)

Is it reliable?
The examples given above from the rapport itself show that the 'possible' victims that are registered by CoMensha are questionable. People that are just visiting friends in Holland are being reported as 'possible victims', without any clues as to why they got reported. Also a prostitute who gives no indication of being a victim, is being reported without an indication as to why she would be a 'possible victim'.
Another interesting fact is that the registration are done per case, and not per person. This means that the same person could appear several times as different registrations, and also get counted by the National Rapporteur as different people, even though it's the same person.
I've experienced in person being questioned exactly the same way by the KMar as depicted in the examples above, and therefore I am also 100% sure that I am registered several times in this rapport, and counted as multiple 'possible victims', even though I'm not a victim and I am just one person. Also other girls I know, many of them in fact, describe the exact same thing, meaning they are also being registered multiple times as different 'possible victims', even though they aren't.
It is therefore difficult to say how many of the 1437 'possible' victims are real victims, versus how many are registered because of false hunches or pure randomness. It does however show one thing, that in the eyes of the police and other authorities, many women are falsely being seen as 'possible' victims while in reality they are not, which would also explain the statistics of Schone Schijn.

Conclusion
There have been many numbers going around about how many prostitutes would be forced and/or exploited. Some people claim it's 70%, but there is no actual research to support that conclusion. Also the claim that it would be 50 to 90% does not seem very likely, since the research is based upon the opinions of some individuals, and not based upon any research among prostitutes themselves.

On the other hand there have been three researches which show a very similar image. Both Scharlaken Koord and Regioplan show the same percentage, and the ASO rapport comes to a conclusion which only differs 2% from the other two researches. Furthermore these three researches are also based upon actual research among the prostitutes themselves, and therefore don't state opinions but facts.

These numbers also seem consistent with the numbers from the Nationaal Rapporteur, who wrote in her latest rapport that in 2013 there were 1437 'possible' victims registered by CoMensha (page 4).
If we base ourselves upon the estimated 20.000 prostitutes in Holland, that about 1437 could be possible victims, that is 7,18% of the total amount of estimated prostitutes in Holland, very close to the estimations of the other three researches of Scharlaken Koord ASO and Regioplan, while very far away from the KLPD their rapport.

This would mean that 4 rapports all point in the same direction, that the number of forced prostitutes in Holland is somewhere around 7-10%. While on the other hand there is only one rapport that points toward an estimation of 50-90%, which is only based on opinions, and many other researches point out that these numbers are exaggerated and unlikely. Beyond that, the 4 rapports come from different sources, of which two are from the government themselves, which would furthermore support their reliability.

How many women are forced in Amsterdam's Red Light District?
It is almost impossible to say how many women are forced in Amsterdam's Red Light District, since we don't know how many women work there. The estimations vary between 700 and 1100 annually for the whole of Amsterdam. But the Amsterdam Red Light District is not the only place with window prostitution, since there are only about 296 windows in the Red Light District itself. Which means that only a portion of those 700-1100 women work in the Red Light District, and others work in other areas in Amsterdam where they have window prostitution, such as the Singel area and the Ruysdaelkade.

But even if all the windows in the Red Light District would be filled every day with women, there's only place for 592 women in total (296 during the day shift, 296 during the evening/night shift).
But whoever walks in the Red Light District during the day, will see that almost 75% of the windows are empty. So, if we calculate that during the day only 25% of the 296 windows are occupied, we would come down to 74 women working during the day, and 296 women during the evening, giving a total of 370 women working on one day.
Of course there are those that cannot always get a room, and will work behind the windows that are not occupied during another prostitute her free day. That group of girls that don't have their own fixed window, and stray from one window to another is however not larger than 100 girls I know from my own personal experience.

So let's say there are about 370 women with their own fixed window, and about 100 girls that stray from window to window each day. This will give us a total of maximum 470 women. Given that the highest reliable estimate of forced prostitution is 10%, this would come down to 47 women annually that are forced.
But of course those 47 women don't work all at the same time. So those will be over a time span of about one year, and we know from experience that women that are forced these days quickly get picked up by the police, as most forced prostitution cases show that these day they don't work there any longer than 6 months at the most.

During the night, based upon the fact that most windows will have a prostitute inside, and based upon the 296 windows that are available. We are talking about 30 women that could be forced to work there.
During the day however, there are roughly about 74 women working there, and based upon the estimated 10%, this would come down to about 8 women that could be forced.
In total this would come down to 38 women on a daily base, which is something very different from the 400 women that the mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, always claims in his speeches about prostitution in the Red Light District.

On a national level
The estimations about how many prostitutes work in Holland vary greatly from 15.000 to 35.000. It therefore seems also almost impossible to give any good estimations about how many prostitutes are really forced in Holland, since they would vary from 1200 to 3500, meaning the lowest number would be less than half of the highest estimations. Such large differences in estimations are unreliable in researches, which always use the rule that the margin can be no bigger than 5% for an accurate estimation.

Therefore we have to conclude that we simply don't know how many women are being forced into prostitution on a national level. There could be 3500, but they could also be 1200. In both cases however we are talking about a large number, and the problem should be fought.
But stating that 70% of the prostitutes would be forced, seems unlikely, and therefore also not very helpful in the fight against forced prostitution. After all, stating such statistics only makes it more difficult to identify the victims from the non-victims, since you would be searching for a much larger group than it in reality is. This makes it more obscure to find those victims, and doesn't help in the fight against forced prostitution.

It would be better to state that nobody knows, but that we should all keep our eyes open. That way people won't get a false image, but people still will keep their eyes open. It would help if people would report suspicions, rather than just report people randomly based upon the fact that they are from Romania for example, just because they are female and young, as the KMar does right now.

Dutch version


70% forced prostitutes are opinions, not facts!
After waiting for almost two weeks, finally we have something that looks like the source of the claim of Jojanneke that '70% of the window prostitutes are forced'. Strangely enough we found the (what seems to be likely) source not because the Public Prosecution Office was able to give us the source.
No, the (likely) source was not provided by the Public Prosecution Office, who know the numbers so well, except where they come from. The source was provided by Marieke Schenk, who contacted my boyfriend after she had suspicions that this might be the source.
So far this source is the only one we have that fits the description of a number being mentioned of 70% by the Public Prosecution Office in relation to trafficking numbers. Strangely however this source nearly mentions the number of 70% and the two reports on what they based it on, but does not give us the source of how they came to this conclusion. I'm therefore afraid that the number of 70% is nothing more than near guesswork of Werner ten Kate, rather than actual research.

The source is actually a a report to do a quick scan to give politicians an idea about what the results could be, and what the problems are, regarding the new regulations they want to implement for prostitution. This report is not a research about how many girls are forced or trafficked.
The number of 70% is also nearly mentioned in the report, it is not the conclusion of the report itself, and can therefore be considered as nothing more than the personal opinion of the person who stated it, Warner ten Kate himself. If there is however some source that proves it are not just his personal guessing, but an actual research, I'd sure like to see it.

The page on which the number gets mentioned is page number 102. There you will find an interview by the Nationaal Rapporteur with Werner ten Kate from the Public Prosecution Office and Kai Lindenberg from the University of Groningen (who is also the writer of the entire rapport himself). During an interview with Eva Jinek, Jojanneke clearly stated that these numbers are based upon reports like KLPD's Schone Schijn and research of the Erasmus University. This source however does not mention the Erasmus University at all. The line we are talking about is the following:

"Ondertussen is het wel zo dat onderzoeken die bij de zaken Sneep en Koolvis zijn uitgevoerd en die juist op het legale circuit zien, uitwijzen dat circa 70% van de vrouwen in dat legale circuit gedwongen werkt."

Translation:
"Meanwhile it is the case that researches that were done in the Sneep and Koolvis case that focused on legal prostitution, show that about 70% of the women in the legal prostitution are forced to work."

In other words, this is not a research that proves that 70% is forced, it is nearly a report that mentions someone's personal estimations. A trick we've seen before. Because, if you look at what Werner ten Kate is referring to, you'll be very shocked!

The first rapport that gets mentioned is the Sneep case, that rapport is now known as the KLPD Schone Schijn rapport, which mentions a number of 50-90% forced prostitution and/or exploitation. In other words, not just forced prostitution, but they count in exploitation as well, quite correctly, since those are the two things that are called human trafficking together. So far so good.
The 50-90% however is not based on any actual research. It is based upon the personal opinions of nearly 6 police officers, who made estimations ranging from 50 to 85% (page 76), from the total of 18 police offers that were interviewed for the rapport (page 134), The other police officers stated that this was simply impossible to give a good estimation. In short, this is nearly the opinion of 33% of the interviewed police officers.
Fact also is that the 50-90% isn't even correct, it should have been 50-85%. But besides that, they are nearly people's personal opinions and guessing, not based on any scientific research. The report itself never did any type of research to confirm or deny if the estimations of the individual police officers give as a good estimation or not. No prostitute was asked to give any estimations, nearly the a few police officers and their own guesswork. Nothing more. I hardly call that a reliable number.

The second case that Werner ten Kate mentions as a source, is the Koolvis case. This was a large case of a Nigerian gang that used Holland as a gateway into Europe, to force 133 women into prostitution in Italy and Spain. That's right! These girls didn't work as prostitutes in Holland, they were nearly taken from asylum centers in Holland, to be transported to other countries to work in prostitution over there.
In short, these girls didn't work in Holland in prostitution, but in other countries. So it says nothing about how many girls are forced or exploited in Holland. How one can draw a conclusion about how many women are forced in Holland in prostitution, based on a case that's about trafficking girls to other countries, is beyond me.

Since no other sources are mentioned, I have to base my conclusion on only these two sources. And fact is that the first source is nothing more than the opinions of some police officers that dared to make some personal estimations, which I wouldn't really call reliable, and certainly isn't any proof.
And the second source has little to do with prostitution in Holland itself. So how Werner ten Kate can come to the conclusion that it's 70% based on these two rapports is a miracle to me. But more importantly, nothing more than guessing based on guessings of other people.

There is no research to prove that 70% of the prostitutes are forced! The mentioned rapports are in one case nearly guesswork of other people, and the second one isn't even about prostitution in Holland itself! Beyond that, both sources did not specifically focus themselves only window prostitution, and also didn't focus themselves on only forced prostitution, but on exploitation as well. Forced prostitution also involves exploitation, but exploitation cases don't involve forced prostitution, which is why we call those exploitation cases, which means the prostitute is NOT forced!

Near guessing, based upon other people their guesswork, based upon personal opinions, using wrong definitions, and not one single prostitute interviewed for the conclusion that '70% would be forced'.
This is not proof of any kind that 70% would be forced. It nearly proves that nobody has any clue how many girls are either being forced or exploited, and people their guesswork heavily vary. There is no scientific research done for this conclusion, and is not based upon facts but opinions!

Dutch version
Jojanneke in de Prostitutie: The review
Well, I could say a lot about the program of Jojanneke, but mostly I'm dissapointed. She didn't show any of the things she claimed before the show, which mainly seemed to be aimed against the Red Light District in Amsterdam. To protect the identity of some of the girls in this video I will not post it here, a concept that's apparently difficult to understand for Jojanneke.

In this first episode she asks the question if prostitution is a normal job. First of all Jojanneke seem to be under the impression that if you don't like your job,you must be forced or something must be wrong with that profession.She doesn't call that a free choice, but if we can't call that a free choice, a lot more people are forced also outside of prostitution. So many people in the world don't like their job, that doesn't mean their job is abnormal, or those people are forced, just that Jojanneke has problem accepting it as a normal job.

Jojanneke claims that it's legal for a pimp to put a someone in prostitution, as long as she agrees with this. This is absolutely not true. A pimp is someone who profits from prostitution, and that's called exploitation, and exploitation is human trafficking according to the Dutch law under article 273F. I'm surprised to find out that even after 2 years of diving into prostitution, she still hasn't learned this.

What Jojanneke does show however, is that prostitution is still not an accepted job. Her claim that so many people in Holland regard prostitution in Holland as a normal job, is an idea that she created in her own mind apparently. Because reality is, and I'm speaking from my own experience, that people don't accept it. Banks still refuse you most of the times because you do this job, as is also shown in the documentary, even though it's legal. People don't consider it normal, which creates a stigma.

What Jojanneke proved with her documentary is that prostitution is still not accepted. Not that the job isn't normal, but that people still don't consider it to be normal, of which she is the biggest example in her own show. This is the stigma we daily face. People think we're not doing a normal job, so or we must be sad victims or we must be dirty, crazy sluts. Jojanneke tries to show that we're mainly sad, while in reality we're no different from other people, they just look at us different because of this job.

When Jojanneke for instance tries to find out what the prices are, and if girls do it without condom, we see all girls answering the price that is common for those areas. 50 in Amsterdam, some other places in Holland 35 and 25 in Den Haag. Some girls will do it without condom, but not that many. One girl responds that many girls have AIDS, of course that's not true, that's a trick some girls use to scare clients off not to do it without condom, but of course Jojanneke uses it to frame it in a negative way.
In fact, at the last AIDS conference in Melbourne, they even stated that legalizing prostitution helps in the fight against HIV and AIDS, as you can ready here.

Jojanneke also keeps saying by the way that 'we sell our bodies', a common mistake many people make. I've written it before on my blog, and I'll say it here again. Selling your body means someone owns you and can take you home, that's not the case. We don't sell our bodies, it's not a product, we offer a service, a sexual service, just like a dentist offers his services for your teeth, or a psychologist for your mind. You also don't say a masseuse is selling her hands, or a psychologist is selling his brain or something like that.

When asked by Jojanneke if a brothel owner would let his ow daughter do this work, his response is quite natural negative. After all, prostitution is a tough job that's not for everyone, that doesn't mean we're forced, but like going into the porn industry or the army, I think many parents have trouble with that. It's only natural, but doesn't mean prostitution cannot be a normal profession, just because the parents would object to it.

I think the blonde Romanian girl talking in the show is a very good representation of the average Romanian and Bulgarian sex workers. They're independent, they do this job simply for the money, and they have no problem to have sex with their clients. Jojanneke obviously kept trying to make things look sad for that girl, because she's working to support her daughter, but which parent doesn't work for his or her children? It says nothing about the job, but simply about the motivation a lot of women in this business have to do this job.

Jojanneke seem to be primarily obsessed with the fact that we have sex with our clients, as she keeps calculating how many men we have sex with in order to pay for things. But again, it's a job that revolves around having sex, if you don't want to, clearly you're in the wrong line of work. Jojanneke can't accept that, but as you saw in the documentary, we girls don't think like that, we think about the money. If there are girls that have trouble with having sex for money, they should look for another job, after all, that's what the whole job is about! What else did you think you were gonna do in prostitution, sell flowers? There are many exit programs to help with that help prostitutes to exit, so if you don't like to have sex with clients for money, use those!

Also Jojanneke still seems to be under the impression we have to let every client inside. When she asks a client how he would like it if he would have to satisfy dirty, smelly, even menstruating women. Jojanneke uses a video clip made by the European Woman's Lobby to demonstrate this, the same lobby group that was one of the people responsible for the European parliament to accept a resolution to accept the Swedish model, in which clients of prostitutes are criminalized. This already shows on what side Jojanneke is with her documentary, even though she claims to be objective. She keeps forgetting that prostitutes also have the right to refuse customers, and also do this(!) as the Dutch woman explains when she says she refuses 70% of her customers. By the way, the video clip also seems to forget there are condoms for women as well, but apparently Jojanneke and the European Women's Lobby are not aware of that? I think it's important to raise awareness about safe sex, so please people, use a condom, also the women!

Jojanneke ends her documentary by stating that often girls are forced. But as we saw in the documentary, all these women choose to do this job by their own free will. It may not be there dream job, or the best job in the world, but it does pay the bills. She has not proven the things she claimed.

I'm wondering though about one thing. For her documentary she showed a pimp, apparently it was easy for her to find one. Makes you wonder why the police can't find this man, if this pimp is a real pimp? The things what this pimp said are ridiculous. I'm working now for 5 years here, 5-6 days a week, and nobody ever came to my door to become my pimp, like how this man claims, and also none of my colleagues. That also doesn't seem wise, because the police is walking around in the area and there are always other people walking around. Real pimps keep their distance to the windows, the risk is simply to high.
He claims we need protection, but we already have protection from the police, that's the whole idea why it was made legal over here! We have an alarm button we can press in case of emergency, so what more protection do we need?! Also he claims that only 5-10% are not forced, but I highly doubt the authenticity of this man.
The way in which he speaks about women, is not something that would attract women, which in his line of work would be kinda problematic, because he needs to attract women for his job. This also goes in against all those stories they always tell about loverboys and pimps, that they're charming, none of that could be found in this man.

Also she tried to show that underage girls without a passport would be working behind the windows. I cannot speak for the rest of the country, but as you've seen, nobody accepts that here in Amsterdam, which again proves claims about girls working without passports or underage girls are absolutely false.

The question about whether or not prostitution is a normal job seems to have been answered in the documentary by people's opinion about our profession, which is mainly based on prejudices. Like with gay people, as long as people have prejudices about it, it will not be accepted, and therefore not be seen as 'normal'. But are gay people not normal because there are prejudices about them?

We all know there are things wrong in prostitution, some girls are being forced, others are being exploited. We know this already, this is nothing new. The premiss however that '70% would be forced' was not proven, in fact, there was very little proof of that. Most of the 'proof' seemed to be existing out of Jojanneke judging if she feels those girls are forced or not, not by a pimp, but by economic circumstances, which in regular speech is just called kapitalism.
Yes, people have to work to make a living! Yes, people have to work to give their sons or daughters a better future! That's nothing new, that goes for almost everyone, and prostitution is no exception on that rule. That doesn't make us forced, that just proves our job is just as normal as any other job in the world, people just don't see our job as normal.

The ironic thing is that there's a huge stigma on prostitution. That stigma causes victims to be shy to step out, it causes a lot of problems to lead a normal life for all the rest of the prostitutes, and the documentary of Jojanneke just increases that stigma. So, in stead of helping all those girls Jojanneke claims to 'want to help', she just made it worse for both victims and sex workers by increasing the stigma. Thanks a lot Jojanneke!

Update 17:56:
The mayor of Groningen confirms that there is NO minor behind the windows like claimed by Jojanneke in her documentary. 'Claims from the broadcasting are not based on any reality', according to the mayor himself.

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.