Who are these human traffickers?
They're almost every day in the news, newspapers report about them every day, and social media is filled with messages about it. Every single day a new report comes out about a human trafficker being caught by the police, going to court or getting convicted. But who are these men they call human traffickers or 'pimps'? How come they are so hard to catch? And more importantly, why do the prostitutes protect them?
Well, the answer is within the following video. This man is a convicted human trafficker or 'pimp' as some other people might call him. He was caught for human trafficking prostitutes from Romanian into Spain. Yet, interestingly he didn't forced them into prostitution or exploit the prostitutes he trafficked.
And although this man was caught for trafficking women from Romania to Spain, and there are some slight differences between the way they work (I'll explain more about that down below),  and the way these same people work in Holland, this video gives you a perfectly good insight into the human traffickers or 'pimps' and what kind of people they are.



As you've seen in the video, this man was convicted for human trafficking and forced prostitution, even though he never forced any girl into prostitution, and even though the girls he brought to work in Spain in prostitution agreed on it themselves. They are all women who where not forced, and agreed with splitting the income with this man.
And as I've said here above, there are some differences between what this man does in Spain, and what the same people are doing here in Holland, that get caught for human trafficking. Since Spain doesn't offer prostitutes much police protection (since it's not illegal, but also not recognized as a profession), the girls are very vulnerable (like the man in the video explains), and they therefore need protection. The protection they require is aimed at protecting the prostitutes from aggressive clients and real pimps who want to force these girls into working for them with violence.

Since Holland offers prostitutes safe workplaces behind the window, with police protection, and an alarm button in case of emergencies, there's much less need for protection like how these people in Spain do it. But what the girls who want to work in Holland do need, is help with setting up their life and company here (window prostitutes all are self-employed business owners). I already explained it a bit in this blogpost here, that without help you can't get started in Holland as a foreign prostitute. There are simply too many rules, papers and financial things to take care of, to do it on your own, and on top of that the girls also need a financial boost to set everything up. That's why in most cases prostitutes get help from friends who already do this job, but in about 8-10% of the cases guys like in this video come in to the story to help the girls who don't have connections here. The prostitutes who get help from men like this are what I call 'free trafficked prostitutes', they're not forced and not exploited, but still considered to be victims of human trafficking like I've explained before in this blogpost here.
The guys that do this in Holland do for a large part the same things this man did in Spain, with the exception that they don't search for girls like the man in the video explains and he doesn't offer you protection, since the police already offers it.

The free trafficked prostitutes in Holland take a very similar deal like how the man from this video offers it. He asks for a percentage of the income or a fixed number, in exchange for helping them get set up in Holland as a prostitute. But just like this video shows, the men (and women) doing this, don't force the girls into prostitution or exploit them. All they do is offer a service to help you where you want to be.
As I've explained before, also helping a prostitute cross a border, knowing she will work there as a prostitute, and even though the prostitute agrees on this(!), this is still considered to be human trafficking according to the law. In my opinion this is absurd, since these people don't do anything wrong, on the contrary, they actually help us with something the government doesn't help us with!
So my question is, why is this illegal by law? Does the government not support people who want to go into prostitution by their own choice? Apparently yes, otherwise they would've only made it illegal if a girl didn't agree on it. But since it's also illegal when a girl agrees herself on becoming a prostitute, the government shows they are against people entering prostitution. Why is the government against people helping other people achieving their goals? And more interesting, why is it only illegal to help people into prostitution, and not any other job in the world?

But perhaps the most important part and message of this video is about the police. The police in this video have forced the girls to testify that this man forced them into prostitution, even though they weren't forced. Under the pressure of heavy interrogation, and being threatened to be sent to jail themselves if they didn't sign it, the prostitutes finally testified against the man that helped them out. It's a sad thing to hear, especially if you realize that this isn't just happening in other countries, but here in Holland as well.
I've experienced myself how the police works, when I became involved in a police research about three Bulgarian men, who where also suspects of human trafficking, just like this man was. And just like this man, those three Bulgarian men weren't forcing the women, in fact, two of them where even married to the girls and one already had two children with her before they came to Holland!

A few years ago I was still under the impression that the police in Holland where here to help you, and help prostitutes when they where in trouble. I had good contact with some of the police men walking around in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Some of them I even considered to be my friends, as they regularly came over to me to have a talk with me.
After a problem with my previous landlord, I went to the police, thinking they could help me. Unfortunately they couldn't help me out with my case, but they did ask me if I wanted to go the next day with some other police officers who where doing an investigation on the landowner, and they also had two or three questions about some Bulgarian boys I knew vaguely.
Under the impression I was going to talk with the police officers the next day, about my landlord, I went with them to the police station. But after only 4 questions the interview turned into a different direction. Documents where presented on the table of the three Bulgarian boys. And than the questions started coming. I've spend almost two hours there in the police station explaining them I didn't know anything, and that in my eyes these three men hadn't done anything wrong. But the police wasn't interested in hearing that. I got to see more documents, one including one of my best friends from work, and even one of myself, all stating they where victims of human trafficking. I couldn't believe it, that they even thought I was forced. And my best friend, she wasn't forced for sure, since I'd lived with her for almost a year, and her boyfriend had even repeatedly expressed to her that he wanted her to quit the job.

But the worst thing about the police interview was, that it turned out that it wasn't just an interview, and they weren't interested in my landlord. They where making me testify, and when they finished typing the testimony, they forced me to sign the testimony under pressure. They said to me that if I wouldn't sign the testimony, that they could have me picked up, and taken to court, to testify in court in front of the guys. I didn't know at the time that this wasn't true, and they where just pressuring me, and taking advantage of my lack of knowledge about the Dutch justice system. My boyfriend afterwards told me they couldn't do it, and than I realized how they tricked me into testifying.
For a while I was worried about this, since my name would come up in a court case against the three Bulgarian boys, and they might get the impression I had screwed them over with my testimony. I was scared they might be so angry with me for sending them to jail with my testimony, that I was worried for almost a year that perhaps one of the guys would one day beat me up. Fortunately nothing happened, but perhaps next time another girl gets to testify, she won't be so lucky.
Funny thing is, since that time, the policemen I had such good contact with now ignore me. Every time they come in the street where I work, they turn their head so that they don't have to look at me. I think they know very well that they tricked me into it. And the worst thing is that since this happened, I'm apparently not important to them anymore, they act like I don't exist.

I know many other girls who've had similar stories. All of them have bad experiences with the police, who trick them into doing things, testifying against people, even testifying against their own boyfriends or husbands sometimes. A good example of this can also be found on the website of Frans Snel, the window owner of the Red Light District on the Achterdam in Alkmaar here. Also in that case, about two Hungarian girls, they where forced to testify against someone for human trafficking and forced prostitution even though the man hadn't done these things. It's almost an exact copy of the video here above.
This is also the reason why many prostitutes don't like the police. Not because they're scared of their pimp when they talk with the police, but because they only get you into trouble because of the police, and they certainly don't help you.

A few weeks ago I came home from Romania. As soon as I came to customs I saw they had their eyes on me. And indeed, it didn't take long before two men from customs came over to me to ask if I would please follow them. We went into another room where they check the bags of passengers for drugs smuggling etc. In a room filled with people, they started to ask me questions about my job, my life, if I was forced, my boyfriend, where I lived etc. etc. Not only did they make me feel like I was some sort of criminal (even though I hadn't even done anything), but they did this publicly where many people could hear what I was saying.
A few weeks before a good friend of mine (also a Romanian prostitute working here in Amsterdam), also got picked out by customs for questioning. And also her they asked questions about why she came to Holland, what she did for work, who her boyfriend was, if her boyfriend was forcing her to work, if she knew her address here in Holland. All of this again in the midst of a room filled with people who are getting their bags checked. Next to her was standing a girl from her city, who she knew, but who didn't know what job she was doing here. But apparently the customs don't care so much for privacy.

The hunt for finding the few forced prostitutes that are out there is getting worse and worse, and the people who work as a prostitute by choice become victims of this. Prostitutes are getting stigmatized on a daily base. These days I'm even scared to take my mother to Holland, because I'm scared customs might pick me out again for questioning about my job in front of my mother, who doesn't know I do this job. I can't get a simple bank account from many banks here in Holland (with the exception of ING), because apparently prostitution is not an accepted job for them, even though in Holland the job is legal and you actually also need a bank account for your own company.
Getting a loan from a bank is out of the question. And also getting a mortgage is not an option, as I've found out after trying to get one from 15 different banks and mortgage companies in Holland. Getting a place to live is problematic, because people have such a bad view on prostitution.
How rescue organisations depict human trafficking
The hunt for forced prostitutes and human trafficking is taking epic proportions, damaging everyone and everything in their path, helped by the hunger of the media for exciting and shocking stories, and rescue organisations who are more interested in their funding than actually helping victims of human trafficking and forced prostitution.
Stories about prostitutes getting forced, beaten and exploited are rare to find. Videos and movies, but also stories in books and newspapers, about terrible things in prostitution simply don't happen that much. In stead prostitutes who chose this job for themselves become victims of the witch hunt the media, rescue organisations, the police and politicians are leading. People who are helping prostitutes are being accused of forcing girls into prostitution, even though they never did that, and this video is a very good example of that.
The last few months I've seen dozens of news articles about so called 'forced prostitutes' in the media, in where girls themselves claim that they weren't forced, yet the court decides otherwise.

Not all the stories you hear in the media are true. In most of the cases people are being sent to jail for helping prostitutes, yet those people are being accused of forcing prostitutes. Prostitutes who want to tell the truth are being shut up by the police and prosecutors, because they're only interested in hearing one story, which is that all prostitutes are forced.

Dutch version
14 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hey! One of my colleagues just found your blog so I started reading it immediately. We work in Hungary and as I read you also speak Hungarian, so it might be interesting for you: www.suisseproject.blog.hu (the blog was made when I went with an another colleague to work in Switzerland).
    I find your blog very interesting. I know quite much about the Hungarian situation but never got any trustful experience from other countries, especially the Netherlands, so it provides a lot of useful information, thank you:)

    Ivonn


  2. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Ivonn
    Thank you for visiting my blog. Indeed I noticed and read some of the things that where posted on your blog. If you have any questions just put them here. I can speak Hungarian fluently, but my reading is a bit rusty.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for your answer:). I have only one question: you talked about a report made by the police, this one:
    A few months ago I tried to translate this report myself and I thought that more sexworker were interviewed. Could you show me the part where they mention 4 sexworker and the circumstances they got to be interviewed? (I mean that all of them had some issues with the police because they were forced or something like that)

    People from the rescue industry usually use this report which is a pity as I cannot translate it so especially this part would be very useful.

    I will keep continue reading your blog:)

    Ivonn


  4. Anonymous Says:

    Oops, I forgot to send the link and for some reason failed to get it - so I'm talking about the "Schone schijn" report made by the Dutch police.


  5. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Ivonn
    Here's the link to the raport Schone Schijn.
    If you look at page 135 (68th page on your PDF viewer) there's a list of all people that the researchers talked with, than you'll see there two victims, or as they call it in Dutch 'slachtoffer'. Victim number one is labeled as correspondent number 56, and victim number two is labeled as correspondent 62.

    I do have to correct myself here though, as I've reviewed the report again just now. They've only talked to 2 victims, in stead of 4. I could swear before I saw there 4 victims listed, so I don't know what changed, but apparently there where 2 victims interviewed.


  6. Ivonn Says:

    Thank you for your help:). Well, 2 sexworkers... I'm not that surprised. For some reason some people from the rescue industry, that my colleague and I met, had never talked to a sexworker before.


  7. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Ivonn
    Yeah, I've noticed that before. So many people are claiming things, yet they've never even talked to a sexworker before. Very few people actually talk with sexworkers. If they do they are usually two types of people, those who completely agree with you, and tell the same story sexworkers like me do. And those who completely ignore our stories and say: 'Yes, well you've been lucky, many others are forced. You're an exception.' Funny thing is about those last group of people, that apparently there are a lot of exception out there.


  8. Donkey Says:

    Isn't it possible that this Tudor Viola is the one who is lying? He is of course the perpetrator, and often the perpetrators lie.


  9. @Donkey
    Yeah, because lying about something he's already in jail for really is going to help for him. Plus on top of that it also matches with Felicia Anna her own experiences, so why still doubt things if they're so obvious?


  10. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Donkey
    Why should he lie on video for the rest of the world to see, while he's already in jail for it? Perpetrators lie to stay out of jail, this guy is already in jail,
    Plus, I don't think he's lying first of all, because he has no real reason anymore to lie, and secondly because these things happen pretty often, Frans Snel his story about the two Romanian girls is a good example of that,


  11. Donkey Says:

    He still maintains his innocence. He said he just helped prostitutes to arrange things, not force them. Perhaps he did admit recruiting prostitutes from abroad, which is forbidden. But he could lie about how much coercion he used. Perhaps the women did initially choose to work in prostitution, but perhaps he forced them to hand over their earnings anyway, or more than they agreed initially. But he doesn't say that to us.

    Perhaps he said something like: if you don't pay 100 euro per day extra, I'm going to beat up your mother, or I'm going to beat you up. And if you leave me, then I'm going to do something to you. Perhaps he already did use violence against the women.


  12. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Donkey
    Still remains the question why he would lie, if he's already in jail?
    He's not going to be set free if he keeps claiming this, so he doesn't have a motive to lie anymore.

    You use the word perhaps a lot. But perhaps he just told the truth, and you have a problem accepting it.


  13. davy zealot Says:

    This is a very great read and it immediately reminded me of what was already a few decades earlier penned down by Walter Block in his book "Defending the undefendable" under the chapter about "the Pimp".

    http://books.google.be/books?id=0-apY116bpYC&pg=PT34&lpg=PT34&dq=walter+block+defending+the+pimp&source=bl&ots=I9r4bbcPTK&sig=yDLosnEtVl8edJZiTsKjK8fZ7UU&hl=nl&sa=X&ei=vHCEU_eJKYyV7Ab014GgDw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=walter%20block%20defending%20the%20pimp&f=false


  14. 2delici.us2 Says:

    Just like a witch hunt... happen before and will (unfortunatly) always happen...
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0968264/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSvG_gk2mZU


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