maandag 1 september 2014

Probleem met geen probleem

In mijn vak kom je vanalles tegen. Niet alleen omdat je op plekken komt waar andere mensen niet komen, en omdat je dingen doet die andere mensen niet doen, maar ook omdat mensen je opzoeken die je anders nooit zou zien. En die mensen vertellen dingen aan je die ze nooit aan iemand anders dan een hoer zouden vertellen. En zonder op te scheppen, niet aan een hoer die niet zo haar best ervoor doet als ik.

Ze zeggen weleens dat hoeren tegelijk maatschappelijk werkers zijn. Daar zit wel wat in. Niet eens alleen voor mannen die alleen bij ons terechtkunnen. Ook mannen die alleen bij ons terecht wìllen. Er zijn best wat mannen die alleen bij een hoer hun verhaal doen, omdat wij zo netjes van hun wereld afgescheiden blijven. Vooral als ze dingen hebben wat ze weten dat niet geaccepteerd wordt.

Dat levert soms hele ongemakkelijke tafereeltjes voor me op. Vroeger was dat veelmeer dan nu, want ik heb geleerd om breder te kijken, en dat iemand die iets opbiecht niet betekent dat ik dan voor of tegen moet kiezen. Meestal moet ik gewoon luisteren. Advies hoeven ze vaak nieteens. Maar als ze wel advies willen, denk ik wel met ze mee. Het is altijd een beetje bij jezelf blijven, en nooit teveel buiten mijn boekje gaan, maar de kleine dingen die ik kan helpen doe ik wel.

Eigenlijk is er maar één ding dat veel belangrijker is dan àlles: je moet niet afwijzen. Ze verwachten dat je terugschrikt, ze raar vindt, en afstand neemt. En dat mag je niet doen. Als je dat doet, gaat alles mis, en krijg je nooit meer zijn vertrouwen. Waarschijnlijk zie je hem nooit meer. En als je het niet doet, dan heb je meestal al iets voor hem gedaan wat alles goedmaakt.

Ik kom dus vanalles tegen. En dat is iets wat mijn werk zo interessant maakt. Ik heb veel dat gewoon een beetje van me afvalt als de klant weer weg is. Er zijn vooral veel klachten over hoe hun relatie werkt, en dat ze weg zouden gaan als de kinderen er niet waren. Ik hoor veel over eenzaamheid. Ik hoor veel over zorgen. En angst, ook. Mannen hebben ook behoefte om te vertellen wat ze dwarszit, aan iemand die ze intiem vertrouwen. En daar hoor ik wel bij. Soms als enige.

Natuurlijk kan ik niet in één stukje alle aspecten behandelen wat klanten met me bespreken. Daar kan ik heel veel stukjes over schrijven, nu kies ik het maar over één ding daarvan te hebben, wat ik telkens terug heb zien komen. Er zijn best mensen, niet heel veel, maar genoeg dat het me opvalt, die problemen ermee hebben dat ze ergens geen problemen mee hebben. Die verwachting dat iets ze dwars hoort te zitten, zit ze dwars.

Soms gaat het om kleine dingetjes. En dat zijn dingen die ik echt niet als enige hoor. Mannen die ontslagen zijn en thuiszitten, en zich er een beetje voor schamen dat het een vakantiegevoel voor ze is. Mannen die een vrouw hebben die weer is gaan werken, en dat eigenlijk wel fijn vinden omdat die opeens veel minder aandacht voor ze heeft. Mannen die een ouder verliezen, en daar niet door geraakt worden. Meestal verrassen ze zichzelf ermee.

Maar dit stukje gaat over grotere dingen.

Een klant die ik al jaren kende, bleef na een bezoekje even hangen. Hij had iets op zijn lever, en hij wou er graag over vertellen. Ik moest nog verschonen voor de volgende klant, en het was al laat geworden. Ik kon hem dus niet laten bijboeken. Ik drukte hem op zijn hart dat we het er volgende keer over konden hebben, als hij wou. Het was iets waar hij iets berustends over had. Hij was teleurgesteld over het moment.

Dat begrijp ik wel. Soms is het moment dat je de moed en het goeie gevoel hebt om ergens over te beginnen iets wat maar afentoe komt. En als er dan iets tussenkomt, voelt dat bestwel als een teleurstelling. Hij voelde zich geweigerd, ookal vocht hij ertegen. Dat zorgt dan wel dat ik me er ook niet lekker over voel achteraf. Je wil je klanten toch geven wat ze echt nodighebben, en hier was het gewoon niet iets dat kon.

Ik was blij dat hij in ieder geval niet gewoon verdween. Dat kan na zo'n incident heel makkelijk. Er zijn genoeg andere hoeren. Hij maakte gewoon weer zijn volgende afspraak. En dan moet je beslissen of je nou wel of niet erover begint. Als je het niet doet, lijkt het alsof je het niet interessant vond, maar als je het wel doet verpest je misschien juist de sfeer omdat hij zich voelt alsof je druk op hem zet.

W vertelt me dan dat ik subtiel hints moet maken, die hij makkelijk kan negeren als hij wil, maar dat is iets wat heel moeilijk is. Daar ben ik niet geraffineerd genoeg voor. Gelukkig was het niet nodig ook, want hij begon al met uitleggen voor ik mijn voordeur dichthad. En we hebben er al onze tijd aan opgemaakt. Ik denk niet dat hij er echt expres voor kwam, maar hij was blij met wat hij kreeg.

Hij vertelde zijn verhaal. Dat ging over hem en zijn moeder toen hij nog een klein kind was. Zijn moeder was gescheiden en eenzaam, en als ze dronken was kroop ze bij hem in bed. Ze behandelde hem een beetje als de man van het huis. En als ze nuchter werd, zweeg ze erover, en deed ze alsof het nooit was gebeurd. Dat was iets waar hij met zijn vrouw niet over kon praten, want die begreep het niet. En zijn psycholoog ook niet.

Wat hem dwarszat als jongen was niet dat zijn moeder voor seks bij hem kwam, maar dat ze deed alsof het niet bestond achteraf. Het was niet iets van hun samen, en hij voelde druk om te doen alsof het niet bestond. Dat was wat het probleem toen voor hem was. Het opgescheept zijn met een geheim, waardoor het ook iets van hèm werd. Maar nu had hij een groter probleem. Dat was dat mensen van hem verwachtten dat hij last had van de seksuele dingen die waren gebeurd.

Dat zorgde dat hij zich slecht voelde. Hij had het gevoel dat hij abnormaal was. Hij had er een probleem mee dat hij dáár geen probleem mee had. Hij voelde zich pervers omdat hij niet overstuur en getraumatiseerd was. En als hij vertelde dat wat hem wèl dwarszat was dat zijn moeder van hem verwachtte dat hij deed alsof het niet gebeurde, dan werd hij alleen maar vreemder aangekeken.

Omdat dat hem de hele tijd werd aangepraat voelde hij zich alsof hij afwijkend was. Hij vertrouwde zichzelf er niet door. Hij wou normaal zijn, en daarom probeerde hij zichzelf aan te praten dat het hem dwarszat. En omdat het hem niet dwars had gezeten, voelde hij zich medeplichtig aan iets waarvan hij wist dat het slecht was, ookal voelde hij het niet zo. En daar verbond hij aan dat hij misschien wel pedofiel was.

Allemaal onzin natuurlijk. Maar dat krijg je er niet in met een gesprekje. Dat moet je léven. Zijn grote probleem was dat hij geen problemen had met zijn ervaringen. En dat kwam best hard aan. We hebben er soms over gepraat. Later verdween hij, en ik heb hem nooit echt overtuigd. Hij was een hele fijne, gewone klant, en hij zag zichzelf als een gevaarlijke freak. Dat vind ik erg jammer.

Een andere klant was verleid tot seks door een leraar op school. Daar had hij twee jaar sekscontact mee. Hij was gewoon hetero, maar de homoseks met die leraar ervoer hij niet als iets ergs. En nu nog steeds niet. Daar heeft hij weer grote problemen mee. Terwijl het niets is wat hij zich aan zou moeten trekken. Hij heeft therapie gehad, die hem probeerden aan te praten dat het ongezond was om je er niet rot over te voelen.

Maar het zijn niet alleen klanten. Ik ben iemand bij wie mensen graag hun hartje luchten, en ik heb een vriendin die lang geleden door twee van haar vrienden is verkracht. Dat was geen dubbelzinnig verhaal, ze hebben in een dronken bui haar overweldigd terwijl ze huilde dat ze niet wou. Die twee zijn geen vrienden meer, maar ze heeft geen aangifte gedaan, en het zit haar ook niet meer dwars.

Ze heeft er alleen de eerste maanden last van gehad, maar nu vindt ze zichzelf een freak. Ze heeft het idee dat een gewelddadige verkrachting je mentaal "hoort" te beschadigen. Ze kan er tegen niemand zomaar over beginnen, want ze schaamt zich enorm als die mensen heel veel medelijden gaan hebben en haar zielig vinden, terwijl ze er eigenlijk overheen is. Haar moeder blijft haar bijvoorbeeld vertellen dat "de klap nog wel komt."

Die vrouw heeft het nog wel erger dan die mannen. Die zit er af en toe helemaal doorheen. Niet van die verkrachting, maar van de onzekerheid die ze krijgt van die verwachtingen over hoeveel invloed het heeft. Ze haalt zich vanalles in haar hoofd, over dat het haar schuld is, of dat ze het uitgelokt moet hebben, of dat ze gewoon pervers is.

Haar moeder heeft haar naar een therapeut gestuurd, en zij weet niet wat ze die vrouw moet verkopen. Ze wil niet dat het een grote toestand wordt, maar die therapeut laat ook maar niet los. En die brengt weer verslag uit, over een meerderjarige, aan haar moeder. Ik vind niet dat dat kàn, trouwens. Ze verzint tics om die therapeut maar te bevredigen. En ze schaamt zich ervoor dat die niet echt er zijn.

Een andere vriendin heeft een man die vreemdgaat. Hij doet stiekem, maar hij kan er niets van, en zij weet van elk slippertje het fijne. Ze leest soms de Whatsapp van zijn scharrels, omdat ze wil weten of hij van plan is met zo'n meid weg te lopen, maar eigenlijk doet het haar niet veel. Ze houdt van hem, ze is intiem met hem, en ze is gelukkig met hem. Ze weet alleen wel dat ze zich heel boos hoort te maken over zijn slippertjes.

Zij veroordeelt zichzelf heel hardvochtig daarover. Zij vindt dat ze kennelijk niet genoeg van hem houdt om pijn te voelen als hij gaat stoeien met een poes buiten de deur. Zij vindt het vernederend dat ze zich niet vernederd voelt. Zij ziet zichzelf als iemand zonder gevoel, terwijl haar gevoelsleven verder gewoon hélemaal normaal is. Ze zit buiten de normen, en ze veracht zichzelf omdat ze gelukkig is als ze dat niet hóórt te zijn.

Dit is een raar probleem, en ik haal het nu even naar voren omdat ik het zelf ook heb. En ik heb gehoord door mijn blog, dat er zàt andere meiden precies hetzelfde probleem hebben! Het is bij die klanten en vriendinnen heel herkenbaar, juist omdat het bij hoeren soms ook op dezelfde manier erinhakt. De hele wereld denkt dat je ergens erg van hoort te lijden, en die druk ga je voelen.

Het is makkelijker gezegd dan gedaan om je maar niets aan te trekken van wat mensen om je heen vinden. Vooral als het niet gaat om een paar mensen, of zelfs om veel mensen, maar om haast iedereen. En als de mensen die de uitzondering zijn, ooknogeens sociaal zelf vaak afwijkend zijn, van hoeren tot hippies, dan is het iets wat erg aan je kan knagen. Ik merk dat wel. Dat is ook denk ik de belangrijkste reden dat ik het zo belangrijk vind om me ertegen uit te spreken.

Zelfs als je wéét dat je het bij het goeie eind hebt, dan is het nog steeds een druk die je voelt. En die druk wordt nooit minder. Deze mensen van buiten de business zitten gevangen in het relatiedenken, en in alle regeltjes over seks. Ze zijn er ergens vaak nog een beetje bang voor. En daarom zetten ze zichzelf gevangen. Ik heb het niet omdat ik mezelf gevangen zet, maar omdat ik gewoon voel hoe de wereld over me denkt.

Er zijn hele harde tantes die de publieke opinie gewoon in zijn gezicht kunnen uitlachen. Ik ben niet zo. En ik weet nieteens zo zeker of die harde tantes er ècht helemaal geen probleem mee hebben. Maar ik voel wel die druk om mee te gaan. Ik denk dat dat bij mens zijn hoort. En die druk is om me ellendig te voelen. Dat is niets voor mij. Ik ben niet zoiemand die een slachtofferrol aanneemt om maar lekker in het denkbeeld te passen.

maandag 25 augustus 2014

Antwoord op: pooiers lachen om de straffen

Volgens sommige mensen lachen de pooiers om de Nederlandse straffen op mensenhandel. Je hoort het best vaak, en van beide kanten van het debat, zowel de verbiedertjes als de behulpzame mensen. Je hoort het zelfs van hoeren zelf, ookal hebben die het meestal uit de media. Maar nooit van de pooiers. En dat heeft een hele goeie reden, die denken daar namelijk héél anders over.

Stukjes schrijven over pooiers heeft me een stuk meer informatie gegeven over pooiers, want er stroomde opeens een hele golf mails bij me binnen van meiden die met pooiers werkten, en van pooiers zelf. Die waren erg emotioneel soms over dat ze eindelijk eens werden bekeken als iets anders dan een ééndimensionale horrorman. Het is erg onhandig dat ze pas komen als ik al geschreven heb, natuurlijk, anders had ik die nieuwe informatie goed kunnen gebruiken. Niet dat het een ander verhaal zou zijn geworden, maar ik moest eerst vechten voor wat ik nu zomaar kréég.

Er wordt al jaren geroepen om hardere en hardere straffen voor mensenhandel, en daarom is de straf in de wet ook al meerdere keren omhooggedaan. Er zijn nog steeds pooiers, hoeveel acties er ook zijn uitgevoerd. Politici, opiniemakers, de media, en dus ook de man in de straat, die denken allemaal dat het komt omdat de straffen niet hard genoeg zijn, en die bikkelharde criminelen dat fluitend uitzitten.

Laat ik eerst maareens zeggen, dat het natuurlijk weereens niet gaat om wat er echt gebeurt. Dat roepen om meer straf heeft te maken met verontwaardiging. Er is iets aan de hand wat mensen niet aan willen zien, en ze doen dan maar alsof we die criminelen gewoon een lesje moeten leren. Doe de straffen maar omhoog en het gaat wel weg. Dat is een hele naïeve manier van denken. Straffen hebben maar een bepaald afschrik-effect, en meer straffen zorgt niet altijd voor meer afschrikking.

Bovendien zijn de straffen voor mensenhandel helemaal niet laag. Voor wat je moet doen om al onder mensenhandel te vallen zijn ze zelfs bestwel erg hoog. Vooral als je het vergelijkt met andere misdaden. En ook als je het vergelijkt met de landen om ons heen is het in Nederland nogal hysterisch. Zelfs de vergelijking die mensen maken met de bronlanden van die pooiers die ze willen pakken, laat Nederland niet zien als een slap straffend landje.

Voor een deel is het om te laten zien hoe èrg we het wel niet vinden, mensenhandel. En dan vooral, gedwongen prostitutie. Dat is zo'n hysterisch iets geworden, dat je erg op moet passen als je skeptisch bent of vraagt of het allemaal wel zo simpel is. En of je dat wel zo zwartwit moet zien. En als je durft te zeggen dat er veel ergere dingen zijn dan de prostitutie ingedouwd worden, dan trekken mensen gewoon echt wit weg.

Maar hoeren zijn nu eenmaal de speerpunt van de slachtoffercultuur die we achternalopen, en seks is eng, en we willen het maar op één manier zien, en logisch denken is niet welkom. Dus we verzinnen maar vanalles om het simpel te maken, en dan kunnen we lekker verontwaardigd doen. Want het is makkelijk om met je verontwaardiging "goed te doen" als je kan doen alsof het gaat om gefolterde onschuldige prinsesjes die door brute geweldenaars tot perverse seks worden gedwongen, terwijl die lachen om je moraliteit en je onmacht door je lage straffen.

We zijn boos, en we willen dat uiten. Daar zijn die straffen voor. We willen die pooier pijndoen, en niet omdat we hem willen afschrikken, of hem iets willen leren, maar om onze boosheid te bevredigen. En dan is het wel zo makkelijk om het plaatje zwartwit te houden, want anders komt er misschien uit naar voren dat hij dàt nou ook weer niet verdient, en waar blijft dan je kans om je boosheid bot te vieren?

Nee, de pooiers lachen niet om de straffen. Niet om de stràffen, maar er wordt wel veel gelachen. En dat is helaas voor hen vaak onterecht. Want als pooier zit je in de problemen in Nederland, als je gepakt wordt. Hoeveel je ook uitlegt, en hoeveel je meid ook uitlegt, ze willen je maar op één manier zien, en daar ga jij ook voor gestraft worden. De pooiers die dat snappen, lachen daar niet om.

De exploitanten met hun vergunningen lachen in hun vuistje. De overheid heeft hun concurrentie voor een groot deel uitgeschakeld, en de meisjes moeten door het stof voor de exploitant. Daar hebben ze goeie verdiensten van. Op die mensen, die makkelijk de ergste van de uitbuiters zijn, vanwege hun monopoliepositie, heeft de overheid bovendien geen zin om te jagen, die worden hoogstens maar bestuurlijk aangepakt. Ze behandelen die mensen als maatjes. Tot de wind opeens draait.

Het is voor die mensen netzomakkelijk weer huilen als de overheid met dezelfde willekeurigheid hun vergunning afpakt, als waarmee ze hem kregen. Maar daar zit meestal geen staartje aan, en ze kunnen hun pand met vette winst verhuren of doorverkopen vanwege de prostitutiebestemming die eropzit. Het enige wat ze om te huilen hebben is dat ze niet door kunnen gaan met monsterwinsten voor nietsdoen.

Een smokkelaar uit een bronland zorgt wel dat hij nietteveel in Nederland is. Dat hoeft voor zijn stuk van het werk ook niet. Hij moet met contacten en papieren aankomen, en de reis regelen. Daarvoor hoeft hij niet in Nederland te komen shoppen. Vroeger waren die mensen in Nederland nog erg actief om ook aan deze kant van de grens de zaken te regelen, maar nu moeten de meisjes daar maar een ander voor betalen. Die blijft weg van de Nederlandse politie, die kan er veilig om lachen.

Criminele pooiers, afpersers, de echte klootzakken, die heel weinig meer voorkomen, maar wel bestaan, lachen niet om de straffen. Die houden de hele toestand goed in de gaten, en doen best hun best om weg te blijven van risico's. Maar ze weten dus ook waar de politie op aan het jagen is. Omdat zij dàt niet aan het doen zijn, lopen ze vrij, en om de pakkans kunnen ze dus wèl weer lachen. Behalve als de meiden ook met hun tijd meegaan, en geen aangifte doen van beroving of afpersing, maar beweren dat hij ze dwingt. Dat is in opkomst. Of dat doorzet weet ik nog niet, de politie is ook geen fijne partner.

De kleine zachte pooier is het kwetsbaarste. Hij is makkelijk te strikken voor de politie, en doordat hij close is met zijn hoer is hij ooknog makkelijk te veroordelen. Bovendien kunnen die jongens niet omgaan met de situatie, want ze denken dat ze niet kwetsbaar zijn, omdat hun hoer meer dan gewillig meedoet met de hele relatie. Dat is vooral omdat we in de media doen alsof er alleen op dwingende psychopaten wordt gejaagd, en die jongens trappen daar gewoon in.

Zo'n kleine zachte pooier lacht dus om de politie en justitie, maar dat is omdat hij denkt dat hij niet strafbaar is. Hij vindt zichzelf geen pooier, hij is haar behulpzame vriend. En dat is onterecht. Als je een relatie hebt met een hoer, en je doet niet héél erg je best om op de onlogische dingen te letten die daarbij horen, dan ben je te pakken door de politie, en daar doen ze nogal hun best voor. Dan vergaat het lachen je wel. Maar helaas worden die mannen pas wijs als ze zijn gepakt.

Nee, de straffen zijn niet het probleem. Het probleem is dat in de branche bijna niemand weet wat er nou echt gebeurt en wat er nou wel en niet mag, omdat de regels telkens veranderen, onduidelijk zijn, en op één manier in de pers worden uitgelegd, en op een héle andere manier door de rechter. De hele business wordt totaal willekeurig behandeld, en de sjacheraars denken dat ze daarom wel wat kunnen ritselen. Maar zo is het niet.

De straffen zijn hard zat, de veroordelingen komen ook héél makkelijk, maar het heeft niets te maken met wat er echt aan de hand is of er iemand wordt gestraft. De verhogingen van de straffen maakt niets uit, behalve dat de politie er automatisch meer bevoegdheden van heeft gekregen om ons letterlijk en figuurlijk uit te kleden. Het is brullen om bloed, en niet te zuinig kijken of dat wel terecht is. Dat is geen recht, dat is niet eerlijk.

Eerlijk zijn, dat zou er eens in moeten komen. Niemand in het publieke debat laat het achterste van zijn tong zien. Niet alleen de verbiedertjes, trouwens. De hulpverlening en de welzijnsorganisaties janken ook met de wolven mee. Dat doen ze allemaal strategisch, en ze vinden allemaal dat ze dat doen omdat het beter werkt dan de waarheid, maar het zorgt alleenmaar dat hun kleine stukje meer zijn zin krijgt, en de hele business alleenmaar meer zoekraakt achter alle makkelijke ansichtkaart-denkbeelden.

Voor de pooiers is er weinig te lachen, behalve de onzin die we over ze in de kranten zetten.

woensdag 20 augustus 2014

Dutch Model - War on sex work

One very alarming development of the last few years is the organized persecution of sex work. After a tentative start, very hostile actions against prostitutes have become not just accepted by the general public, but are actually viewed as productive efforts to combat trafficking. Instead of executing these actions in silence, they are boasted about in press releases, and actual action footage is released. This is highly unorthodox in any other kind of policing in the Netherlands.

It started out with police raids on window prostitution areas. The neighborhood would be closed down, a huge police force would storm the streets, with a ratio of more than 8 policemen per girl. This enormous show of force was explained away by the organizing prosecutor as "making absolutely sure order would be maintained." He then claims that this goal was attained, and therefore shows the approach worked.

These policemen would force their way into the work areas and take the sex workers to detainee vehicles to be transported to government buildings for an all-night interrogation. Meanwhile, police ravage the working areas and adjoining rooms, destroying any closed lockers, boxes, suitcases or bags. Communications equipment like telephones or computers are taken, mostly never to be returned, and money is impounded likewise.

Police claim the women are free to go during these raids. However, when you say you want to leave, they say that you might be free to leave now, but if you do try to leave they can order you to stay, and you'll be arrested if you don't comply. Then you won't be free to leave. All they want you to do is answer some questions, and if you try to get away, that is highly suspect and cause for harsher methods.

The questions are variable. It depends very much on the interrogator what he is trying to get from you. Most just want to do the standard interrogation I will go into a little further down, but during these raids many interrogators are less standardized, and will take the interrogation in different directions. Most will try to get statements from you concerning abuse, violence and trafficking.

During these raids, however, there is also great emphasis on tracing your money. If they can track down where your money has gone, it will be impounded, and never be released. This is supposed to strike at the heart of trafficking. If you don't have a pimp to siphon off your earnings, you can lose much. Hiding it at home doesn't help you, because while you're being interrogated, police has broken down your home door and is ransacking the place.

They try to bully you into submission, want you to sign pre-made statements, and want you to accuse your friends, family or especially your partner as traffickers. The methods chosen show how little they know about whores. We are confronted with unruly manhood on a daily basis, and we know by experience that to certain attitudes one must never submit. Results are therefore scant.

Every raid is claimed to be a success. Often starting even before it is launched. However, only a few cases and very few arrests are attributed to raids - and on closer inspection, this is always found to be false. So far none of the raids have started any investigation ending in conviction. They have succeeded in scaring off clientele, who are also interrogated by police, and in impounding vast sums of money.

Police are not above lying. Not just in your face, by telling you that laws exist that actually don't, telling you that they have rights to do stuff to you they actually don't have, but also in the reports they write about you. You always have to be very careful not to give them anything they can edit or abuse, but you're never safe from suddenly appearing statements they claim you made.

After some raids on window brothel areas, where the results were zero and the public exposure heightens the risk of people figuring out these raids are pointless, similar actions started in the license-free home sex work sector. Here the tools are different, and the approach more hostile.

Not only is police milling about in front of your house very bad for your standing in the neighborhood, and does the police wreck and impound as they do in the window brothel raids, but they exploit your vulnerabilities as a social outcast as well. This is a process they call "ketenaanpak" (chain approach) where as many problems are brought to bear as possible. All to "help" you, of course.

The municipality is informed you're working without a license. Whether you need a license or not, now you're in trouble, because since you've been raided, you're now suspected to be involved with trafficking, and therefore you can't work anymore. It doesn't matter if you got off clean. You haven't been careful enough to keep the suspicion of crime-related activity off yourself, so you're now contaminated. I'm not sarcastic, this is how judges rule.

What's more, police will officially inform the municipality that you're working commercially, because otherwise they wouldn't have been allowed to raid you, would they? So you must be commercial, which does need a license, so you've been in violation during your whole career, and they're able to fine you tens of thousands of Euros. Unless you submit to some other stipulation, like leaving the municipality or joining a licensed brothel.

Police will inform your building society, landlord or mortgage bank that you're "running an illegal bordello" in your house. This very often means eviction. Especially sex workers with foreign roots or sex workers with any kind of troubled history don't stand a chance. If the work was provided in a house registered to a third party, then this third party is automatically a trafficking suspect.

If you're the owner of your house, and it is not mortgaged, there is still the option of evicting you because you're in breach of zoning laws. Apparently this is a costly or difficult affair, because municipalities and police lean heavily on the other eviction options, before trying zoning as a tool to make you homeless. I haven't been able to get further information on this issue.

Many independent sex workers do the sex work part time, in addition to a regular job. Sex work is variable, and it is flexible enough to allow it to be tucked in outside of office hours. If an independent sex worker is caught by police, and they manage to track down where you work, they commonly inform your employer. This very often ends in dismissal, and judges tend to side with the employer. Independent part-time whores don't like LinkedIn.

In rare cases, insurance companies and banks have been informed their client was a sex worker. Even those few financial institutions that don't flat-out refuse services to hookers will do so after being "warned" by police. Whether this is done intentionally to further ruin the sex worker or is a side-effect of police trying to track down money to impound is unclear.

The tax office is often used as a boogie-man, but rarely gets involved. This is a strange fact when compared to all those other people who are so willing to add fuel to the fire of the witch hunt, especially because their behavior towards sex workers is generally all but benign. The threat is otherwise realistic, because claims by police of any kind of foul play, including impossible turnovers, are indisputable to the tax office.

Of course, police will try to take your money. And often they will be able to find it, or to track it down after you sent it elsewhere. As long as it's been moved legally, they can easily find it and take it from you. They claim you could get it back if detective work shows it to be clean, but so far I haven't heard from anyone who actually had any returned. Procedures to get anything returned are a waste of effort.

As if all the above weren't enough, they go after your loved ones. Not only do they tend to inform parents if you're still in your early 20s, but if you have kids, those will come into the sights of youth services. If they get involved, the suffering multiplies. At the smallest provocation, you can lose your kids. They make that abundantly clear to you. They often offer to take your kids right away, to spare everyone the trouble.

Given that many independent sex workers work from home, a raid will often find her not alone. In the press statements this is always put forward as a clear sign that something fishy is going on. Men in the house must mean violent pimps, another woman must mean that this was a crowded brothel where clients are tag-teamed, and when a 15-year old girl was present in one case, this caused quite some press buzz.

The press, of course, doesn't question in what capacity that 15-year-old is found in the house. Prostitution to them is a world of cardboard cut-outs, who don't have relatives, who can't babysit for a neighbour when between clients, who don't live in houses where they also have a family, so anyone near them must be part of the misery porn story. Especially if it makes that story more juicy.

There is a way to make this all go away. Once they've threatened you with all they're willing to do to make you miserable, childless, homeless and jobless, they explain that if you would turn out to be a trafficking victim, then all this would disappear. You would even get help, if you wanted. All you have to do is claim that you were coerced, and accuse somebody. Then everything will be right.

You'd think they would have gotten used to it, but every time a sex worker doesn't want to give enough information to actually put anyone in prison, the cops are baffled. They just can't get your head around a victim not wanting her perpetrator in prison. And they got you to admit you're a victim, that's something that they just will not doubt. Or maybe vice cops are extremely good actors. They keep pressuring you, because you must just not have understood the choice you got, right?

In fact, the National Rapporteur in her reports calls for even more explicit explanation of the choice between the government ruining your life or you coming up with an accusation. Because if it isn't because we're too stupid to understand the decision we're making, then she doesn't understand why we would choose bearing the brunt of what government can throw at us over falsely accusing an innocent. It can't be morals, whores don't have any, right?

The police is pretending to be fighting the battle they lost in the 90's. They're fighting gangs that don't exist anymore, mafia structures that never did exist, claiming success after success, but never getting any real gangsters. They use excessive violence to force whores to help them shore up their fantasy war on trafficking. They're not making anything better. They are the cause of untold misery. The material damages caused by police alone are, after taxes, the most significant cost of doing business for many independent girls.

It is interesting to see how the trafficking mythology gets a new twist every time a raid, which is meant to bag more than 100 coerced prostitutes, going by the numbers the police purports to believe, ends up with zero sex workers "rescued." There is always a new explanation, always a new insight. And they make it look like this was expected, and they knew beforehand they wouldn't find anything. Whatever the justification was in advance.

Sometimes "this action was only meant to map out the criminal infrastructure." Sometimes "Coerced prostitution has moved to the illegal sector." Sometimes "we never expected any woman to come forward immediately, but you never know how many women will be made to think in the coming months about their situation by showing we care." Sometimes "this is a signal we don't accept human trafficking, which is modern slavery, and which happens here in our country."

Even though many actions, especially after showing no results, are justified as "getting a grip on prostitution and retrieving information," police really isn't interested in any information about how things really are. When confronted with their lack of results and lack of insight, they either deny the problem or lament that it's actually impossible to get any reliable knowledge of our shadowy business.

Knowledge does exist, although it is scarce and sometimes naive. There are university researchers like Hendrik Wagenaar or Dina Siegel, and there used to be a wealth of knowledge in advocacy group De Rode Draad (the Red Thread), before it was bankrupted for not kow-towing to Amsterdam municipality. Still well-informed researchers like Sietske Altink try to educate, but because their information doesn't paint the desired picture, they are largely ignored and considered troublemakers.

Partly this is because the media are completely uncritical of government. They go to great lengths to toe the government line. But partly it is also self-serving behavior by those same media. Dry truth doesn't sell, whereas misery porn does. So again and again Dutch media choose to be complicit in hoaxes. It is unlikely that a journalist worth his salt would not be critical enough to see that something isn't right.

It happens over and over again. One time it's a fake ex-prostitute who is the only one agreeing with Amsterdam municipal policy, another time it's a girl who works in window prostitution in a city without window brothels, and is in a leadership position in a drug and gun running syndicate at 12 years old, every time they fall for the same stories. And they act surprised when, time and time again, it turns out to be a hoax.

Misery is news, and sex sells. No wonder the media relish in horrific slave girl stories, often with slightly more sexual details than would be strictly necessary. The pornographic element in the stories is camouflaged by pretending it is a story of heroism and courage, even though it requires careful screening from any critical question to keep that facade intact. The tales are shocking, and shockingly fragile.

A small number of semi-professional victims dominate the soft news, misery porn books and documentaries. They get new fake names for each publication, and because their stories change each time to fit prohibitionist fashion, the public tends to view each appearance as a new case. Any comment on internal inconsistencies or plain impossibilities in their story is dismissed as "heartless," and proven lies are justified by assuming something really horrible must underlie the need to deceive.

Nor are the media ever disillusioned when large scale police raids fail, over and over, to uncover any significant amount of trafficking, let alone coercion. The carefully crafted evasions by politicians and police aren't followed up on or questioned. The stories have to be in line with the slavegirl fantasy that passes for common knowledge about prostitution. But unfortunately, it doesn't end there.

In the Netherlands, there is an explicit rule for judges that they don't need evidence for any fact that is well-known. This becomes a real problem when trafficking cases are judged by judges who have been selected and trained to be specialist "experts" by the rescue industry. They literally take rescue industry dogma over actual evidence. The waves of hysteria used to break on unimpressed judges, but they have become part of the problem.

Dogma states that trafficking is extremely hard to see, because the pimps are very clever and have completely brainwashed their victim. That is a blank cheque to dismiss anything the "victim," "perpetrator" or in fact any witness says, and fill in the whole story from the preconceptions learned from rescue industry rhetoric. Since the prosecutor acts in the same way, and sometimes edits the statements and evidence to fit this narrative, it all slots right into place.

The fable of the Emperors New Clothes springs to mind whenever a prohibitionist official solemnly states that trafficking can only be seen by those who have become "capable" by having been vetted and instructed to fit the facts of the case to a mold of expectations and preconceptions. They call this "expertise." Those critical of this way of working are denounced as naive, romanticizing sex work, possible clientele, heartless towards victims, or ignorant.

For prostitutes, it is very important to notice when the police stops trying to find reasons to subject you to an investigation, and when the investigation actually starts. The signals of trafficking used to decide that you are to be investigated are not the same as the items of evidence that are commonly used to convict your friends or your partner.

Evidence judges think proves your partner is coercing and exploiting you can be many things that a sane person wouldn't even consider. If your husband picks up your work phone, he is obviously controlling you. If you both testify you love each other, then that is an obvious lie, because no real loving husband would tolerate his wife doing something so vile as prostitution, so he's faking it to coerce you.

If you work during your period, you're working while sick, and that's proof of coercion. If your friend spots for you by calling for security words before and after bookings, that's controlling your work and therefore evidence of coercion. If your man bought lingerie or condoms, then he is supplying your work and this is proof of coercion. After all, if you give a whore lingerie, you know it will be used in her work, so private use is no excuse.

Having your husband in the house during dates is damning. No real loving husband could stand being around while his wife is doing the horrible deeds in the next room. If he carries your handbag, he's controlling your documents, that's evidence too. If there are deeds to his name, that's evidence of him exploiting you - and if the deeds are to your name, that's evidence he's using you as a shield. Both are evidence of trafficking.

These are actual pieces of reasoning used by judges to reach a guilty verdict on human trafficking, lifted from the verdicts. Many verdicts aren't easy to find, but they can be a treasure trove to learn what you must avoid in order to make sure you don't get trapped. The amount of evidence that suffices is very low. But even with the lowered thresholds, there are still cases where they go too far.

A while ago, a conviction of a trafficker, who had been sent to prison for seven years, was overturned on appeal. It sent a modest shockwave through the world of prostitution politics. It turned out that the original court had convicted based only on the statements of a single accuser, without any supporting evidence. This was such a violation of due process, that even in a trafficking case this could not hold.

The judges were lambasted in national newspapers by the head of the human trafficking division of the national prosecutors office about demanding evidence and adherence to basic rules of due process, saying they are ignoring the realities of trafficking. He lamented that human trafficking should only be adjudicated by specialist judges who had been properly indoctrinated in trafficking theory.

In the same newspaper, a number of judges wrote that the court overturning the conviction had consisted of indoctrinated judges, but that there were limits to how far they were willing to go. This is a rare crack in the machine where probable cause for investigation may be assumed, where powers for detection purposes are granted very easily, where common fiction is allowed as prejudice, and where the minimum requirements for evidence are lowered. And still the prohibitionists bay for blood.

Now to taxes. In the Netherlands, prostitution is taxed. There are two ways to pay, one is to be a registered enterpreneur, in which case all regulations apply, but everything is scrutinized down to the last detail, and any error is taken as fraud. The result is that slip-ups cause the Tax office to estimate your turnover three to ten times too high, and after-tax and fine you into poverty. If they don't know you earn your living by hooking, this doesn't happen.

The other way is via a so-called "opt-in" system, where taxes are levied via your operator. This means you pay taxes like an employee, but you don't get the concomitant rights. This is treated as if it's a concession towards prostitutes, but the benefit is mostly for the operator and the tax office, who have a lot less paperwork to do to get their money from you.

It shouldn't be surprising that the tax office gets chummy with the brothel operators. "To polder" is a verb coined in the Netherlands to indicate that extensive compromising is used to obtain compromises in policy that will avoid future conflict. This "polder model" is proudly viewed as a better way to do things. And from the perspective of policy makers, it probably is.

The best example of poldering is government, representatives of entrepreneurs and labor unions meeting to decide upon labor regulations and wages to avoid the messy series of conflicts that usually accompanies finding an acceptable balance. It is of course impossible to have everyone affected represented, but the important thing is that those forces too great to suppress are satisfied.

In prostitution, the concept was the same. Government, NGO's, political pressure groups and the licensed operators decided on policy. Any consultation with "the sector" is never with the girls, always with the licensed operators. It should come as no surprise that rules were made that were quite easy on the licensed operators, and very harsh on independent sex workers. Current and future regulations all push sex workers to subject themselves to an operator.

From our perspective it looks like the tax office lets itself be used as a tool to wipe out the competition of the licensed operators in exchange for the convenience of the licensed operators doing the extorting of taxes without the tax office getting dirty hands. In a direct economy like prostitution, proving turnover is a problem, and the tax office values not having to do that.

Whores in the illegal sector often pay taxes under creative euphemisms for their job. This allows them to be treated as normal single-person enterprises, with all the discounts and advantages that entails. They pay their taxes and assume that this fulfills their fiscal obligations. Unfortunately it doesn't, and it is considered fraud. Whether the tax office actually enforces it is impossible to say in any single case. Some get away with it, some are bankrupted.

Finally, government also tries to get the general populace mobilized in their crusade against trafficking. They sponsor anonymous tip lines, they place ads in press, TV and online media encouraging suspicion, they try to make clients report the slightest and most ridiculous hints of trafficking. They try to erect a boogie-man and then look good fighting it.

Years of trying to make whores turn each other in have not been very fruitful. Trying to convince someone of obvious falsehoods about something they experience every day does not work well. As a result, recently the anonymous snitching line M bowed to realism and stressed in their latest campaign that by turning in colleagues as trafficked, you cut down on the competition.

Another example is the hotel business. To combat trafficking, a new rule has been "voluntarily self-imposed" by the hotel sector after significant government pressure. It entails making a firing offense for any hotel personnel not to expel guests when suspicions of prostitution arise. In the Netherlands, this is a draconian measure. It came after newspapers speculated that by closing down many of the legal brothels, whores would start working in hotels.

Similar things happen in housing. A building society not evicting a known prostitute is not quite accused of facilitating human trafficking, but we're getting close. It is considered suspect if it shows that it doesn't care. People and organizations are expected to display their allegiance in the fight against human trafficking by ostracizing sex workers, no matter what the actual consequences.

These articles sketch the Dutch model in broad strokes. It is not portrayed like this in media, but this is the drill-down of what actually happens at the sharp edge. I hope everyone who doubts any point in what I write will investigate for themselves. Skepticism is the only means to get to a realistic view of the Dutch model, and to see that it is nowhere close to the image portrayed about it by anyone.

Claims about the Dutch model exacerbating trafficking rely entirely on data from our rescue industry. There is hardly any coercion in Dutch prostitution, and there has never been any to speak of. The only comparisons made are between one set of fantasy figures and another. There is no actual information about Dutch prostitution in mainstream media, and there is great pressure to keep it that way.

Sanctimonious prohibitionist media personalities are already claiming that decriminalized sex work had its fair chance, but it blew it. They're getting no push back from moderates. People are very hesitant to question trafficking dogma, even if they can see that it defies facts. The problem is that they will not start to doubt the overarching mythology despite seeing it conflicts with reality in any part they can actually see for themselves.

People like getting their preconceptions reinforced. They view us as bizarre caricatures, and find it difficult, inconceivable, embarassing, painful even, to consider that we might be people in charge of our life, with different choices and different values. They find the discussion awkward, and are rarely game to get some information from somebody on the inside. Those that do, usually aren't the ones that need it.

I have a hard time dealing with people believing misery porn so readily. I have an even harder time with people dismissing my experiences with the Dutch system as irrelevant compared to the huge suffering in their imagination. I get told that I'm lucky, because in other countries, like Sweden, the UK or the USA, the situation is worse than here. But that they make a bigger mess of it than we doesn't excuse a single thing that's happening here.

The Dutch model is not a failed experiment in liberty for sex workers. When I read about Dutch legalization and what people think it entails, I despair. The actual situation is so far from what people think it is, and so much farther from how the Dutch government likes to pretend it is, that a quick answer just doesn't suffice. The fact is that we went from pretending it wasn't criminalized to pretending it's been decriminalized. Currently we're pretending we gave equitable treatment an honest try. In fact, the amount of government repression has only ever increased. Of course then the Dutch model works badly - but not as badly as the Dutch government would want it to.

Series on the Dutch Model:
Introduction
History
Legal history
Legal developments
Daily reality
War on sex work

Dutch Model - Daily Reality

The image foreigners have of Dutch prostitution is usually either of a utopian candy shop atmosphere where benevolent government has made a safe haven by taking a stance of solidarity and just rule, or of a cesspool of immorality where white slavery is condoned by a hippie government that doesn't want to face facts about the horrors of prostitution and human trafficking. Neither image comes close to the truth.

In the previous English articles on my blog, I have detailed the history of Dutch prostitution, and the political developments around "the Dutch model" of legalization. All these are important in order to understand the background of the current situation, the real reasons behind the so-called legalization, and the way things are escalating, but it doesn't explain what the current state of affairs is for the average prostitute.

Dutch prostitution is a diverse and healthy sector, in which indoor work dominates strongly. Street prostitution exists, but is a very small part of the sector, and is often viewed as the least healthy. To be honest I don't know much about it, as it is a pretty separate branch in which I have no acquaintances. There are more lewd horror stories about street prostitution than there are street prostitutes.

Coercion is vanishingly rare. Apart from some widely publicized excesses, this has always been the case. The few actual investigations that have been done into prostitution show that levels of violence and coercion whithin prostitution are approximately equal to those in the general population. This is largely ignored in favor of alarmist reports based on hype and gut feeling.

There is a regulated and licensed circuit, and separately from that a large and healthy unlicensed, often called "illegal," circuit. The moniker "illegal" is a misnomer, because this term is used to collect both illicit brothels and prostitutes that perform in ways that are not (yet) required to be licensed. This is no accident, since the association between not being under government control and crime is one with which the government has long been indoctrinating the populace.

In the licensed circuit, prostitutes are completely dependent on operators who provide locations and, most importantly, have a license. Due to the highly restrictive licensing policies of the municipalities, licensed operations are scarce and can use their oligopoly position to extract large sums of money and impose strict working rules. Opposing them means losing your workplace, and once you've been expelled by one, the others treat you as contaminated goods.

The illegal circuit, by contrast, contains many small operations who have to fight for the good girls, and who compete by pricing and value for money. Everyone is equally vulnerable to being informed on, so there is much more mutual respect and agreement. Not only the operators are very different in the illegal circuit, but also the clientele is different, and usually more pleasant.

Pimps are uncommon, but some girls will always want a pimp. If they can't find one, they'll make one. It is easier to work without a pimp than with one, by no means are pimps a menace to the industry since the gangs lost their foothold. As things are, finding a pimp is harder than avoiding them, and most girls who want a pimp have to resort to creating their own.

Dutch clients are generally well-behaved and pleasant. Even the tourists are no big issue, because they know they're coming into an established business. Dutch prostitution culture, like in most places, is one of businesslike transactions where the professional sets the boundaries. This means a pleasant and safe experience for both sides of the transaction. Protection against clients by guards is practically superfluous.

Prices in the Netherlands are relatively low. This is because legality means clients don't expect to pay danger money, and because the Dutch prostitution sector has been swamped by girls from Eastern European countries with low wage standards. Eastern European women completely dominate most branches of Dutch prostitution as a result. Despite the low margins, a hard worker can still make the job pay.

These factors make the Netherlands an unlucrative but pleasant place to work. There are, however, problems, all of them stemming from government.

It is unknown how many prostitutes work in the Netherlands, since they have strong incentive to stay out of view of the government. Even if there were openness from the prostitutes, there is still the issue that actual data is not welcome. Official reports take care only to include data from prohibitionist-controlled sources that don't actually have any basis in reality. Real attempts at assessment by social scientists are practically ignored.

There are two sources of information popular in press and parliament about the number of coerced prostitutes. The first, and most common, is a number published in a report by police. The report claims that 50-90% of prostitutes are coerced. On closer inspection, this turns out to be a collection of guesses by vice policemen of total number of prostitutes where some police matter might be involved. Most of the policemen interviewed declined to guess, because they thought it was irresponsible to do so. It has no further substance.

Second, there is the NGO Comensha, which keeps track of all signals of trafficking. Any signal of trafficking picked up by police, border guards, municipalities, or reported by panicky parents is unquestioningly registered as one victim. They pay lip service to the fact that this concerns possible victims, but after this remark tucked into the introduction of their report, the treatment of the accumulated number is as if every case were confirmed.

The bar is set low to be called a victim. If you have a tattoo, or you have new friends, or you are from an Eastern European country, or you have nice clothes, or you seem hesitant to talk to the cop, or you didn't buy your own ticket, or you have new friends, or the cop gets a hunch about you, you're registered as a victim. And there are many more bizarre and spurious "signs of trafficking." Here is an illustrative quote from a recent report by the National Rapporteur Human Trafficking:
The "sluice team" of the Royal Marechaussee (paramilitary police) has, in line with its checks on so-called risk flights from Bulgaria, spoken to a Bulgarian woman. Multiple times this woman has been checked when arriving in the Netherlands and indicates that she finds this objectionable. She claims she ("still") has nothing to do with prostitution. This time she claims to have come to the Netherlands to visit a number of friends for three days. From further observation by the reporting members of the Royal Marechaussee attempting to spot any person picking her up, it emerged that the woman had gone to the Netherlands Railway (NS) informations desk, then tried to contact someone via public telephone, and again contacted someone by mobile telephone. Following this she has left the airport by train. The Royal Marechaussee has submitted a notification about the woman to Comensha for registration.
This is presented uncritically, as if it's a laudable effort to combat trafficking! I have taken no relevant context away, I have not twisted any meaning. This is considered right by the Rapporteur. This is the kind of background the Dutch public doesn't dig up, they only read the ever increasing number of trafficking cases in the news and think that there's an epidemic of victimhood, and something ought to be done.

Quite apart from what constitutes a "signal of trafficking," it is important to know what the law considers trafficking. The Dutch trafficking law is one of the most convoluted and ill-defined laws on the books. This stems from the fact that it is mostly dictated by anti-trafficking treaties written by other countries' diplomats for other juridical situations than exist in the Netherlands.

The vagueness and equivocation in the text of the law creates great opportunities for activist judges and prosecutors. On superficial reading, it seems relatively benign, if somewhat misguided. In its application, it is more a blunt instrument. The fuzzy phrases have been interpreted in the widest possible sense by the ministry, and as a result many more people are threatened by this law than the public knows.

It would take too much time and column space to point out every flaw in the trafficking law and its application, so I will only point out some of the main issues.

The basis of trafficking, according to the law, is an element of coercion and an element of exploitation. Neither of these is well defined. An added complication is that "exploitation in prostitution shall always be considered exploitation," ast the law phrases it, which is interpreted by the judiciary as meaning that every case where anyone profits from prostitution is a case of exploitation. Judges reluctant to go along with this are disparaged, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Second is the element of coercion. While everyone agrees that a thug imprisoning and drugging a girl for rape is obvious coercion, the law extends much further. Any situation of "dependency" is sufficient to satisfy the requirement for coercion. Being in love with a man who profits from the proceeds of your sex work is a factual dependency sufficient to prove dependency and therefore coercion.

The ministry states that coercion and exploitation should be measured by comparison with "the situation an emancipated prostitute in the Netherlands is supposed to have." Unfortunately, this is judged by people who don't have the least notion of, or interest in, any information about or from prostitutes, emancipated or not. They call it a fiction, and frankly that is the best word for it.

But the same ministry who wants emancipated prostitutes to be the benchmark for judging coercion also puts forward explicit examples of coercion, for instance the sex worker coming from an economically weak background, or being informed of the fact that quitting their sex job will cause them to have less income. One specific ukase by the ministry defines "to demonstrate to a prospective prostitute the income that can be earned in prostitution" as coercion.

Excluded from any requirement of coercion, weak as it may be, is the clause about involvement with any prostitute crossing any state border. As long as you somehow profit, you are trafficking her. This is an easy score for prosecutors, and is used a lot. Despite its obvious conflict with the purported purpose of the law, it is vehemently defended by the National Rapporteur as an important tool to combat trafficking.

The maximum penalties for trafficking are remarkably high. If you feel the irresistible urge to traffic a woman, it is better to maim her so badly that she will be unable to become a prostitute. Even if she dies due to this violence, your maximum penalty is still lower than the maximum penalty if you had trafficked her. This paragraph is of course very black humor, but the facts are accurate.

Due to twists in interpretation, partially outside of the scope of trafficking laws, consensual sex work obtained from a sex worker under the age of 18 is penalized whether the buyer could conceivably know she was below 18 or not. Even if he has been deceived with the greatest skill, he is still guilty of debauchery with someone under age. Bear in mind that the age of consent in the Netherlands is 16. If he hadn't paid, he could have gotten as kinky as he wanted with her with no repercussions. This is meant to be expanded to cover any prostitute under 21, infantilizing even more women.

There are many more criticisms to be leveled at the trafficking law, but they are dwarfed by these issues. Suffice it to say that the construction of said law is antithetical to a society where prostitution is even marginally accepted. A law should be a clear standard of behavior, penalizing only what is unjust, and be clearly demarcated to avoid spill-over of penalties into situations where it does not right the wrongs it was designed to combat. This law does not meet that standard.

An effect of the excessively corrupted law, erroneously considered a side-effect, is affording very wide-ranging powers to police. The wide scope of behaviors criminalized, combined with the low thresholds to consider any situation a trafficking situation, combined with the broadened powers due to the high penalties, combined with a desire to score on this issue, makes it very easy for vice police to bully, coerce, cajole, or do whatever they want, since they sail very close to the political wind.

Contact with police is a very unpredictable thing. It seems to depend mostly on how the cop perceives you. If you're assertive and feisty, they view you as an immoral harlot and they're much more likely to try to ruin you. If you're submissive or naive, they tend to be more protective and you're let off much more easily. Pride goeth before destruction in these matters. I find it perverse that the strong willed are preferentially chosen as victims in their pantomime.

Problems with police can be divided into two groups: Daily bullying and organized persecution. The former mostly entails vice police coming on endless "inspections" where they intrude as much as they can into your work and personal life. If you work for a licensed operator, this is usually limited, because vice police want to be chummy with the licensee, but if you're in any way vulnerable to their tactics they become a pest.

It mostly involves "inspecting" your toys and condoms, going through your house, wanting to know the ins and outs of your sex life, preaching to you about the horrors of your line of work, exhorting you to make something of yourself, and relishing in the fact that you have no power to get rid of them, whereas they have power over you. The sooner you see how this works the less painful it becomes.

Some girls take this to its logical conclusion and just give the cops what they want. It depends on the cop in question what this is. For some it's misery stories, for others it's the chance to pester a rebellious girl into submission, some want you to fall crying in their arms, sobbing about your awful life, and of course plenty are just looking for a free blow job once a week. If you know how to satisfy just one local vice cop, many problems simply disappear.

As can be gathered from the information about trafficking signals specified above, it is very hard not to be a candidate for an investigation. You want to avoid that, because investigations cause untold trouble. In dealing with police, there is simply no way to get out ahead, and little chance to get out unscathed. The best way of dealing with local vice cops is to never attract their attention. As long as you don't get noticed, you don't get inspected.

The work is fine. I can't repeat that enough. My job is great, and I wouldn't swap with anyone. As long as I can get things done without too much government interference, I can't think of a better way to spend my working days. It is a different story when organized persecution comes ramming down your door. That is treated in the next, and final, part of this series.

Series on the Dutch Model:
Introduction
History
Legal history
Legal developments
Daily reality
War on sex work

Dutch Model - Legal developments

Since legalization was enacted in 2000, there have been calls to "finally" regulate prostitution. Despite not knowing the first thing about our business, politicians drafted a law and regulation that was supposed to improve our lot and protect us from coercion, harm and injustices. This was first called the "kaderwet" or framework law, but later got the title "Wet regulering prostitutie en bestrijding misstanden seksbranche" (law regulating prostitution and combating abuses sex work sector) or WRP.

The opportunity to impose rules on prostitution was enthusiastically embraced, but the drafting process took several years. This was mainly due to differences of opinion between parties about which purposes the regulations should serve. The American imposition of new trafficking rules in 2004 upset the process, drawing it out longer. When the original version of this draft was published, the year 2008 had rolled around.

It was very clear from the contents of the draft that this proposal of law had been designed by a Christian minister. It entailed no rights for sex workers, only tools for municipal government to eradicate prostitution and a registration system to avoid whores escaping from government scrutiny. Clientele of unlicensed prostitutes would be penalized as well as sex workers operating without license.

Part of the plan was that sex workers would get an identity pass from municipal government at registration, which would have to be checked by each client before each transaction. This was met with much resistance from prostitution and human rights organizations, and the identity pass was removed from the draft. The remainder of the law was left criticized but relatively unscathed and was accepted by parliament.

The Senate proved a bigger obstacle, and, in contrast with the ministry and parliament, was susceptible to arguments from the people who were going to be subjected to the new law. They scrutinized the proposal, and found many unanswered questions about efficacy and necessity, as well as infringements on civil and human rights. There were multiple consultations with the responsible minister, who wasn't the one who drafted the proposal, on these issues.

Every consultation was farcical. The minister did not have any answers and made a complete clown of himself. He was stymied when confronted with obvious questions about whether the level of disruption his law would cause was justified in the absence of clear goals and purposes. It was only after a government reform, with associated tightening of party reins, that treatment of the proposal was allowed to continue, now without heavy criticism from coalition parties.

Despite this political maneuver, there was still no answer to any of the pressing questions that needed to be answered to declare the proposal juridically sound. In a surprise capitulation, the minister suddenly dropped two large sections of the law that had been the focus of most criticism. The parts concerning licensing were kept, but the central registration of all prostitutes in one register, and the duty of the client to make sure his whore was licensed were deleted.

As I write this article, the revised proposal of law is under scrutiny by parliament, but since they were not critical about the original, I don't expect them to be critical about the pared down version. More worryingly, the indefensible parts of the proposal he dropped on the state level are now promoted to municipalities, which are prompted to implement these regulations themselves on the municipal level.

The current proposal entails a compulsory licensing system for "commercial sex enterprises." It contains rules describing circumstances where it is compulsory to withhold or withdraw licenses, and tools to arbitrarily withhold or withdraw licenses. It contains penalization of prostitutes if they are not licensed, if they are licensed but not in the correct way, and we're even penalized if our operator doesn't obey the law, whether we know it or not.

One major justification of the law is that it is meant to bring uniformity to municipal regulations, thus obviating the flight of coerced prostitution to less regulated municipalities. This is instantly belied by the fact that there are explicit allowances for stricter additional regulations. There are no stipulations to guarantee a workable licensing situation for sex workers, only stipulated restrictions.

Despite the age of consent at 16, the age of majority at 18, and the age where paid labor is allowed at 12, a prostitute will be penalized if she works under 21 years of age. She is then treated as a minor. This is professed to be protection of vulnerable young girls. The method is to fine the woman. The minister, when questioned, stated that this fine was a "light penalty" to "emphasize the girls own responsibility." Bear in mind that the rationale behind the rule was that younger women would not be able to freely choose due to immaturity. It is odd to think that this does not preclude fining them.

Originally, the penalization of working under 21 was motivated as a tool to "extract women from prostitution, voluntarily or involuntarily." The "reasoning" behind this part of the proposal was that pimps alledgedly wait until a girl is not a minor anymore to push her into sex work. In support, a rousing publication by the Netherlands' largest rescue industry sect is quoted.

Apparently a belief existed that pimps ignore the draconian trafficking laws, but would be stumped should the girl get fined for working at "too young" an age. Apparently women can be considered competent at 18 in any line of work, except when it involves them husbanding their own sexuality. Apparently a throw-away lie on this prohibition making it easier to force purportedly coerced women out of their jobs is sufficient to apply laws that ignore the right to sexual self-determination.

When grilled on this issue by the Senate, the minister changed tack. The current justification of the infantilization of young prostitutes is "to protect the bodily integrity of young adults." This is presented as "an instrument to counteract prostitution under the age of 21." At least one step of failed logic has been removed from the official justification, but still a reason based in sanity and reality is missing.

In the Netherlands, you're allowed to fuck every guy on a rave when you're 16, you can join the army to get blown up in Afghanistan at 17, at 18 you're fully competent for marriage, breeding kids, drinking, gambling, to stand trial and to work yourself to an early grave - but not to decide that getting paid is reason enough to deliver sexual services. Then government will punish you.

The least objectionable part of the proposed law is to require prostitution businesses to submit a paper detailing how they plan to fight human trafficking. This has been done before on the municipal level, and was a nice earner for people who could write such papers for you. It didn't help one bit, of course, since it was and is meant to be an legalistic obstacle to get a license if you don't have someone helping you out. However, it is one of the less perfidious rules.

Not so with the rule that anywhere where "commercial prostitution" may be suspected to occur, municipal civil servants are allowed to enter without consent from the owner or occupant of the house or building. This is already standard practice for many licensed prostitutes, but with the new law anybody can get a sudden surprise raid by municipal non-police busybodies who say you're prostituting because nobody needs that many condoms.

There have been many soothing words from the minister that he only targets "bedrijfsmatige" (commercial, litt: as a business) prostitution. The wording in the definition in the proposal of law, however, is crafted to include everyone who performs sexual services for any kind of compensation. When quizzed on this, the minister said that the ministry doesn't mean to target independent home workers, but doesn't want to exclude them from the law because they don't want to hinder municipalities that do.

Inclusion of every single sex worker as a target for the law is a point pursued by the Association of Dutch Municipalities, the most powerful lobby group of the Netherlands, who have been sending pressing letters to the minister imploring him to give tools in this law that will encompass all sex workers and allow municipalities to completely forbid any kind of sex work in their territories. The minister has been very accomodating to them, but claims this is not a goal of the law. Of course, both demands are met in the proposal.

Since the 90's, a policy of slow extermination of prostitution areas has been pursued by many municipalities. There was a misunderstanding among sex workers that with legalization, this would come to an end. The legalization was, however, only a tool to expedite this policy. The pace was now no longer set by resistance from the law, but by financial concerns and the lingering public opinion that prostitution should have a place in Dutch society.

When combating prostitution, municipalities always claim shutting down businesses is necessary to combat human trafficking, even though it is usually quite obvious that the actual purpose is gentrification. The Hague is known to have commissioned a feasibility report on the option to shut down the Doubletstraat window area in a bid to upgrade the nearby Bierkade area, but was informed that "unfortunately" insufficient crime existed to make that workable.

Amsterdam has been using money from building societies to buy up window brothels, claiming that the "low economic value" of the brothels, coffee-shops (cannabis cafés), and peep shows should give way to high-end couture, art, and restaurants. When this costly and failing project is criticized, the municipality invariably retorts that this project is necessary to combat human trafficking.

Utrecht was very proud of its severely overregulated window brothels, touting them as the showcase of what could be achieved by strict government interference, until the nearby sewage treatment plant would be modernized and shrunk, raising development opportunities. Then suddenly, within months, every single operator lost his license due to trafficking accusations in a secret report.

The Utrecht municipality claims to want window prostitution to return, but whenever the requirements for a license are met by anyone, the municipality changes the requirements. They use discretionary powers, meant to disrupt money laundering by organized crime, to delay and disrupt any attempt to set up any prostitution business. Local people are approached by the municipality and told step-by-step how to file complaints that will delay licensing even further.

The municipalities are, unfortunately, less sensitive to embarassment. Where the national government backs off from items of policy that are obvious failures or iniquities, the municipalities don't care. Partly this is because the national government is much better scrutinized by press, and can count on opposition parties blowing the whistle on failed policy, whereas the municipalities are much less open and much less under the watchful eye of the press.

A nice example is the case of Patricia Perquin. In 2011, a national newspaper announced a series of articles written by a prostitute from the Amsterdam red light district. Usually hookers' opinions are kept out of official channels, so this drew quite some attention, both from us whores and the general public. We were happy that the voice of at least one prostitute would be heard as something more than soundbites in somebody else's show.

From the initial article on, we knew something wasn't right. She didn't write like a whore, and her experiences were more reminiscent of misery porn TV shows than of anything any of us had ever seen in the Amsterdam red light. As the series progressed, her portrayal of prostitution became more absurd, and she took venomous potshots at well-known Amsterdam prostitute advocates who had been in conflict with the municipality.

Six months later, in 2012, she came out with a book, which was even more absurd. It was promoted as a true story, but it read like a dimestore novel. The mass media promoted the booklet, its authenticity was confirmed by people within the rescue industry who claimed to know her, her credibility had been established by her vetting by the newspaper, and it became a bestseller, as well as the talk of the town.

It was remarkable how seriously she was treated. Many news outlets featured stories about this "brave woman" who told her "true story." Meanwhile, most actual whores were not that convinced that she ever had been a hooker, but we were all sure her story was a complete fabrication. It was jarring to see how this fraud was getting attention with a low freak show content when compared to real hookers who had made the news.

She was, by far, not the first prostitute to come forward with her story. There had been many who tried to show the world what their experience had been like. These other whores had never been remotely as successful, even with better reading books, and were ostracised by mass media instead of hailed as heroes. Their story was publicly made out to be "too romantic" and not horrific enough. Not so for the misery porn by Perquin.

Three months after publication of her first book, Patricia Perquin was hired to be the official advisor on prostitution policy by the municipality of Amsterdam. Not only were her inane ideas hailed as the way forward, she was used as the official voice of prostitutes, not just to justify policy, but also to silence opposition from actual whores and advocacy groups.

Several weeks before the news of this new position came out, prostitution advocacy foundation De Rode Draad (Red Thread) had published a poignant review of Patricias book and articles, reaching the conclusion that she was a fraud. The municipality of Amsterdam responded by blackmailing them, and when they didn't submit, bankrupting the foundation. Despite the foundations national fame and notoriety, and even official inclusion as a government partner in laws, this conflict was reason enough for the municipality to destroy them.

It took about a year before the inevitable happened, and Patricia Perquin was revealed to be a well-known hoaxer and con artist, who had been fired as a journalist multiple times for making up stories, and who had been running a publishing company she used for conning authors out of money during the time she claimed to have been a full-time prostitute on the Wallen. Now that her face was known, it became very clear very quickly that she had never worked there.

The remarkable thing, if one is not already grizzled and cynical from seeing it happen over and over again, is that the municipality didn't drop her as advisor. She kept her position, despite the denouement, and the responsible alderman (who is currently deputy prime minister) claimed that "We realize like no other that the Red Light is surrounded by question marks and obscurities. That now questions are raised about the resumé of this woman does not mean that nothing is wrong in the Red Light. Her stories don't differ from the experiences of other prostitutes." There was, according to him, proof, secret proof, that she had been truthful, and her advice was still great.

Amsterdam doesn't use her name as a passe-partout anymore, but she is still, although rarely, used to show that Amsterdam listens to prostitutes when it comes to prostitution policy. There was a short flurry of press attention when her real background was revealed, but it has since died down, and it hasn't damaged Amsterdams credibility when it comes to prostitution policy one iota. The books are still in the shops under non-fiction, and people still take the municipality of Amsterdam seriously when they say they listen to whores.

When it was still shocking news, I had some hope it might change peoples minds, or at least make the media more cautious to believe the horror stories. She wasn't the first fake victim to be exploded, and she won't be the last. But now it's old news, people are irritated when you bring her up, and the newspaper and journalists are more often chided for "damaging the Cause" of combating trafficking than lauded for their incisive reporting.

I think it is obvious why we're worried what will happen when the new prostitution law gives the municipalities many new powers to persecute us. It lowers the threshold for taking action against us, and that's the only thing still protecting us from the frenzied anti-prostitution policies. They will be able to do openly what they do under pretense now, and they will be able to go much further at much lower cost. But more about that in the next article.

Series on the Dutch Model:
Introduction
History
Legal history
Legal developments
Daily reality
War on sex work

Dutch Model - Legal history

The Netherlands are a parliamentary democracy, with three layers of government. The state layer is the most powerful, and consists of a parliament and a senate, with a figurehead king. The second layer is the provincial layer, which doesn't figure in policy much apart from electing the senate. The third layer approaches the first in importance, this is the municipal layer of government.

Parliament consists of too many parties to ever allow a single party to have a majority. Coalitions are important in constructing a government. All parties are eager to imprint their identity on policy, so flagship "hobby" policies are the most important bargaining chips in negotiating a coalition. The general direction of government is therefore practically uninfluenced by election results, but what makes the press are the "hobby policies" writ large.

Elections are considered reputation competitions, and growth or shrinkage of a party "a signal from the voters." This is mirrored in the fact that most voters treat their party affiliation much like their affiliation to a soccer team, without basing their choices on the policies proposed by their party, but more along lines of "for what kind of people" the party "stands." Voter apostasy is usually because flagship policies have not been expressed.

From this it is easy to see that anyone trying to build a coalition will be drawn toward parties with niche flagship policies that can be easily satisfied, combined with lack of strength on major issues. This is where the Christian parties come in. As long as you'll back their vice and virtue agenda, they'll be the ideal coalition partner. They're not large, but mostly economically centrist, flexible and reliable. As a result nobody who wants to take part in cabinet will offend them.

The politicians of especially the more uptight Christian parties have adapted to this political reality by having one face for their electorate, preaching uptight morality, and another for the press, where they pretend their motivations are to protect children from the horrors of vice and to liberate poor fallen women from the slavery that is trafficking. The main reason for this duplicity is not to embarass political allies.

Parties that are incompatible with the Christian parties are usually far into the progressive side of the political spectrum, and will have a serious feminist slant to their agenda. Feminism is considered unassailable in Dutch society, and in politics this is an even stronger rule. The brand of feminism popular in politics is the economically neutral but morally heavy-handed kind.

As should be clear, it is hard to find any political party willing to accede to any movement that recognizes whoring as a legitimate choice. It is sometimes possible to obtain concessions by appealing to generally espoused values like personal freedom, enlightenment, privacy and self-determination, but this is done gingerly and reluctantly, mostly to look progressive to the outside world. Easy vote gathering lies in showy activity, not in laissez-faire.

Now to the municipal layer of government. Municipalities in the Netherlands are headed by a mayor and a municipal council. The council is elected, in elections generally viewed as a popularity poll for state-level politics, from mostly the same parties as are active on state level. These councils are the legislative arm of municipal government whereas the mayor and his aldermen are the executive arm. The aldermen are elected, whereas the mayor is appointed.

Mayors are usually weathered politicians, who are put on these back-burner positions as a reward for longstanding party loyalty or to bide their time after having their credibility damaged. Municipalities have no official say over national politics, but the Association of Dutch Municipalities is a strong lobby group, and the mayors of the five largest cities have disproportionate influence on national policy. There is even policy to give these municipalities more leeway in complying with national law.

The Dutch have an unshakeable faith in government and justice. It's possible to point at Calvinism and nationalist pride at being highly organized to explain this, but I won't delve deeply into this subject. Whenever crude incompetence and squalid self-enrichment schemes surface, the Dutch press downplays the structural flaws in the system of government at the basis of these embarassments.

Abuse of power and corruption is significantly more common on the municipal level. Local corruption only rarely makes the national news, and the rare cases that do mostly come out via shock blogs. Dutch mainstream press has a symbiotic relationship with politics, and cooperates fully to emphasize the dignity of the political caste. Critics are usually viewed as conspiracy nuts. Gaffes and blunders are downplayed to suggest they are unavoidable errors.

To see how all this applies to prostitution policy, we have to go back at least until 1980. This was the heyday of tolerance policy, in an era when pimps were almost extinct. During this time, personal freedom was praised more than it is now, and repressive "strong" government was not yet as popular as it is now. The then current rules and policies governing prostitution as a tolerated industry gave few instruments to municipalities to shape the business.

Especially in Rotterdam this caused some problems. Then the largest sea port in the world, with the associated demand for prostitution, it was a fertile market for the sex industry, and many workers and operators tried opening new venues to take advantage of the economical opportunities, much to the chagrin of moralists, the ill-informed, and people fearing diminishing property values.

When Rotterdam tried to force its sex industry together in less sensitive areas, like boats in old harbours, or on delapidated industrial zones, it ran afoul of the brothel prohibition law. Dutch administrative law may be mostly geared towards letting the government always have its way at the cost of years of delays, but in these rare cases of overly flagrant breach of the law, the judge can still decide against government.

This set a change in Dutch politics in motion. Before this time, the government had opposed calls from human rights groups to decriminalize prostitution, but since the prohibition laws were now an obstacle to real estate development, government opinion started to change. After much to and fro, and years of waiting for the right political circumstances, 1987 finally saw a parliamentary decision to repeal brothel prohibition.

In the proposal for this act, several reasons were put forward. First, that it would help to protect prostitutes from harm (not substantiated), second, that it would help combat coercion of prostitutes (not substantiated), and finally, that it would allow government to regulate, control and "spatially restrict" sex work (exhaustively substantiated).

Before the legal change could be signed into law, there was as much delay as opposition to the initiative could muster. The political landscape changed again, and in 1993 the new minister of Justice was a hardliner from a Christian party, who used his discretionary powers to cancel the proposal of law, setting the whole process back a decade. A second attempt was started shortly after.

It took until 2000 to complete the repeal of brothel prohibition. The act was not without controversy. There had been a sea change in Dutch politics, and for the first time in decades, a cabinet ruled without Christian parties. The act was celebrated as a step towards decriminalization and destigmatization, but it soon turned out that this was too much to expect. Apart from legitimizing the existing operators, nothing was changed.

Legitimizing the operators was a good move. No longer did they have to be gray sector businessmen, they could now operate above ground, with legitimate security and legitimate financing. Unfortunately, the municipalities immediately pounced on the opportunity to restrict prostitution by licensing only the existing shady operators and refusing new licenses. I will return to municipal policies in the next article.

With brothels now legitimate businesses, and the change in the law, which was supposedly meant to give us rights, some of us had been expecting that we would now be able to make use of the general labor and contract laws for regular people. This didn't happen. Any appeals to government to enforce labor laws were only translated into "support from the field" for special regulation about labor relations in prostitution.

In 2000 trafficking was already an international hype. The fables had not yet reached the level of absurdity that is usual now, but they were well-known, and had been used to oppose and delay legalization. As a compromise towards this opposition, a Bureau was instituted. This was the Bureau of the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking. This independent Bureau was to keep government apprised of developments in human trafficking, as the official source of information.

There have been two Rapporteurs so far. The first a former prosecutor who already started out with a chip on her shoulder against prostitution, and the second a former prosecutor, judge, and anti-prostitution activist. The reports coming forth from this Bureau have been criticized in depth on my blog, both in their narrow sampling and in the amount of misinformation they contain.

Somehow it was considered a positive step in combating trafficking to express in law that the National Rapporteur has no accountability to anyone, her position of power is unassailable, and the only corrective action that can be taken against her is the tough process of firing a public official.

Unfortunately, the Bureau of the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking relies entirely on sources in the ministry of Justice, and on information compiled by an NGO called CoMensha. The latter started its existence as the Foundation against Trafficking in Women, then crept over into a general prostitute rescue company, and finally was chosen and embedded in law by government to keep the official tally of human trafficking victims.

The ministry of Justice, which also incorporates police, is not a great source of information either. Police and judiciary are very badly informed about prostitution. Their concept of circumstances in the business are behind the times by 15 years inasfar as they resemble reality at all. Police and their methods deserve a lot of special attention, but that will have to wait until a later article.

Foremost among the reasons police and judiciary are ill-informed about the state of affairs in prostitution is their unwillingness to face the facts. Any police force is driven by a sense of propriety and justice, and culturally prostitution is still viewed as practically criminal, or at least shady and grubby. Having to face facts means accepting that this cultural stigma must go unsatisfied.

Secondary to this, but still of great importance, is that police are ordered to deal with societal ills, whether they exist or not. This system runs amok when the business attacked is impopular and mostly out of sight of the public, and the police officers involved are vice cops. Vice cops don't become vice cops for no reason. They usually have heavy biases and a personal agenda.

Vice police has always been a source of problems for whores. They tend to indulge in their own moralism and sexual fantasy to see things that aren't there. In the distant past, their unfounded stories would rarely come to trial because prosecutors would demand evidence, which is usually notably absent. With the push to "do more about trafficking," the prosecutors' office was stimulated to start targeted prosecution of trafficking cases.

As can be read in the Cablegate cables via WikiLeaks, in 2004 the USA threatened the Dutch government with demotion to tier 2 of the Trafficking In Persons report. The US has a large influence on Dutch politics, partially because of its interventionist politics, partially because the Dutch remember fondly having been liberated from the Nazi's by the western allies, and partly because the US government is viewed as the political world class, like junior league footballers looking up to premier league players.

In response to the American threats, the Dutch government quickly implemented everything it was ordered to. This included clauses that were incompatible with legality of prostitution. That this infringed on civil rights of prostitutes was never even mentioned in the documents accompanying the acts. Government pretended prostitutes in a healthy situation would never get involved with these laws anyway, and left it at that.

This caused many vice cops' phantasms to be prosecuted. These would founder at trial, when judges would point out inconsistencies, lack of evidence, and errors of prosecution. Occasionally there is even evidence of tampering with statements and evidence, but judges are unfortunately very reluctant to stand up to such abuses when the perpetrator is a government agent. Cases would fail, under howls of foul play by prohibitionists.

Not surprising then, that the offensive against prostitution, and indeed the stigmatization campaigns in media and government, took on a more hostile form. Not only was new legislation designed to be more repressive, and not only was state policy loosened further to allow municipalities more freedom in repression of prostitution, but a new and somewhat shocking campaign was started in the judiciary.

There is a large and well-oiled rescue industry in the Netherlands, the largest company/NGO of which, for example, turning over tens of millions of Euros annually on its rescue operations alone. They are usually portrayed as ragged bands of volunteers, rescuing angels fighting against the odds, and find much sympathy among the general public, who have no clue what's really going on in these institutions. They are viewed as spotless paragons of justice, and their sermons and lobbying pitches are broadcast reverentially as truth.

Alignment of opinion between vice police and this rescue industry had started out early. It was in the interest of the rescue industry to be referred clients by vice police, and vice police could profitably use the "expertise" of the rescue industry as added gravitas to evidence. This was officially expanded into the prosecutors' office and the judiciary, soon resulting in trafficking cases being restricted to "expert" judges who had been specially trained.

There is a rule in Dutch law stating that facts that are commonly known do not have to be proven in court. They can be assumed. Dutch judges are now made experts in trafficking by being lectured by rescue industry figureheads, allowing them to mash any trafficking case into the mold of the archetypal white slavery fable. This "training" gives them the tools to disregard evidence and use public bias as proof. I will go into this issue more deeply in my next articles.

At this juncture, the entire government apparatus divorced itself from actual facts in making policy, and devoted itself fully to myth. It actively avoids dealing with information about the results its policies are generating, and limits its attention to artificial channels, its information exclusively supplied by a teeming rescue industry. This allows it to ride the hype, please the Americans, and look like heroes to the populace.

The continual flow of "news" about trafficking in prostitution put out by the rescue industry causes a continual flow of motions and parliamentary questions concerning the "escalating problem of trafficking," which does not show any reduction, no matter how much action is taken. The solution all politicians agree on is to escalate prosecution and further limit the freedom and rights of people in the sex industry, coupled with an increase of funding and powers to the rescue industry.

Laws regarding trafficking have been broadened in scope several times, causing many more people, most of whom have no real problems, to be considered victims or traffickers. The penalties have been increased multiple times, indirectly affording police more powers in detection and prosecution. These powers are used and abused, and the result is a witch hunt. I will expand on this issue in the next article.

There have been flirtations with the Swedish model by politicians from Labor and Christian parties, which have so far not met with enough public approval to be able to proceed. There are initiatives to criminalize clients of coerced prostitutes, which sounds perfectly acceptable when you don't know what the judiciary counts as "coerced," and there is always the call to "do more against trafficking" without specifically saying what should be done. But there is one big new change close to fruition, and that is what the next article is about.

Series on the Dutch Model:
Introduction
History
Legal history
Legal developments
Daily reality
War on sex work