New campaign against human trafficking
In my last blogpost I wrote about the results of the old campaign from Meld Misdaad Anoniem (Anonymous Crime Report) and the minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten. But now let's talk about the new campaign they presented. The old campaign focused very much on the customers, in which they used 'sign of human trafficking' to help customers and other people identify victims. I already wrote about those so called 'signs of human trafficking' before in this post here, but it seems the new campaign hasn't changed much about those signs, in fact they seam to be the same ones with a couple of new ones added. So I won't go much into them, since I think I've already explained enough why those so called signs are complete nonsense. But it does explain why 93% of the reports of human trafficking that come in, turn out to be false alarm.

What I would like to focus on are the new target groups of the new campaign. Last time the campaign targeted clients, this time they choose to add two new groups to their target groups, and they include sex workers and social workers or NGO's. Of course one might ask themselves why they didn't target these groups before, especially sex workers themselves, since it's our business and after all, we are the ones who have the best and most insight into our own industry. Wouldn't it have been smarter to aim the first campaign in the first place to sex workers themselves, before aiming it at other people who have no idea what they're talking about?

But okay, let's be fair, at least they understand now that the best source of information about human trafficking has to come from the girls themselves, rather then outsiders that know little to nothing about the situations of prostitutes. I'm happy to see that they've finally realized they need to start listening to prostitutes, in stead of listening to people who have been fed propaganda and report mostly false cases of human trafficking, like the result was with the last campaign.

To reach the prostitutes, Meld Misdaad Anoniem has set up a campaign using two video's to create awareness among prostitutes themselves. It's not like we needed any more awareness, as it's impossible as a prostitute to not be aware of the fact that everybody is looking for forced girls in our business. On a daily base we get confronted with this through clients that worry about this, police that ask us questions and interrogate us, and every day news that report on human trafficking as if it's something huge.
So it's not like we weren't aware of the fact that there's human trafficking happening in our industry. And I also doubt the fact that women would be scared or any other way reluctant to report it if they ever saw something like this happening. So I think it's a bit weird they're doing a campaign about something so many people are already aware about.

But the weirdest thing about the new campaign are the videos itself. There are two new videos that are supposed to make prostitutes aware of human trafficking happening in our industry, and help us to report it. I'll first show you the videos before going into it any further:




The first time I saw these two videos I thought they where joking. The videos almost look like a spoof of a human trafficking campaign and are hard to take serious, and are making caricatures out of the prostitutes in the Red Light District. Secondly, the video appears to have been made by someone who hasn't been in the Red Light District in Amsterdam since the 60's, as they prominently feature typical Dutch Amsterdam prostitutes with their typical accent, have been made up to look like we're still in the 60's including over the top make-up and wigs, and is featuring (as usual) the introduction of a young innocent looking Eastern European girl as a possible victim. The video shows them standing outside to talk with each other about the young Hungarian girl, something you will never see in the Red Light District, since girls aren't allowed to go outside from their workroom in their working clothes.

But the funniest thing about these videos, are the fact that they're not even actually about forced prostitution or human trafficking. We hear the women talking about the young age of the girl, and they're asking themselves if the girl is old enough to work there. A weird thing if you ask me, because first of all you can't even get a window from one of the owners unless you're at least 21 years old. Secondly, they make it sound like being younger then 21 is a terrible thing in this industry, while the law still states to this date that you can do this job legally from when you're 18, and not 21. Only Amsterdam works with the minimum age of 21.
So it's not like being 21 is a bad thing or something, or something to be very suspicious about, yet they make it look in the video like it's extremely suspicious for a girl under 21 to work here.

Secondly they only talk about this guy called Radek, it's made to sound in the video like he's the guy forcing the girl. But if you pay more attention to the video, nowhere it becomes clear that's she actually forced, or that even he's her pimp. For all we know, he could be her boyfriend. The fact that he had a different girl before is irrelevant, also guys can get a relationship from one prostitute to another prostitute in normal life.
On top of that they only seem to be talking about gossips, nothing else. There's never any real facts, just gossips they heard from clients, which every prostitute knows, aren't generally the most trustworthy stories.

But probably the worst thing about this video, is the fact that again it's stigmatizing Eastern European prostitutes as victims. Again a Eastern European girl is playing the victim here, while actual research shows that 48% of the human trafficking that happens in prostitution comes from Dutch girls.
Again we hear some stigmatization about girls taking their clients home to work there for cheap money, another nice stigmatization making it more difficult for prostitutes to get a place to live. Just so you people know, I got turned down an apartment last year, because the guy who rented the apartment was scared I would take clients home with me. This is absolute bullshit.

It seems to me the video is more to stimulate prostitutes, especially Dutch prostitutes, to gossip more with each other about Eastern European prostitutes, about which ones are forced. In my opinion all the video shows, is partially true, is the fact that some Dutch prostitutes feel threatened by younger and better looking Eastern European prostitutes. The video shows more how some Dutch prostitutes feel threatened by good looking Eastern European girls, and how some of them are willing to go very far, even spreading lies and gossips, in order to get rid of the competition.
The video seems to stimulate gossiping, and getting rid of the competition using false stories more, then it actually seems to stimulate prostitutes to report actual trafficking happening. In my opinion this video makes things worse, in stead of better for prostitutes.

Another fun thing about this video, is the fact that these women seem adamant on keeping out the cops. They want to report it to someone that this girl is possibly forced (even though nothing points in that direction but gossips), but not to the police. The answer to that in this video is Meld Misdaad Anoniem, or in short M. as they call it in the video. Apparently it's just some random number, that will not notify the police, but it's just good to call if you have suspicions and you need to talk about it with some anonymous person.
Are they serious?! Calling this number is totally involving the police! Yes, anonymous, but it's not like M. is some kind of random number like they're almost making it sound. And yes, it will involve the police.
But I really don't understand why this would be such a problem. If they think the girl is being forced, they can still go to the police station which is only two streets away, and report it there anonymously if they have to. But they would never have to worry about Radek, since the police would arrest him. So I don't get it why these girls should be scared of him, if they go to the police, the police will arrest him anyway, so there's nothing to be scared about, even if they don't do it anonymous.

I know many people think prostitutes are scared to go to the police to report things because of pimps, but this is not true. We're not scared of pimps, because if we report them, the police will arrest him, and our problem would be solved. In short, there's nothing to be scared about.
Plus, you can do it anonymously without having to call Meld Misdaad Anoniem, and nobody would ever have to find out you where the one reporting it. And this is also proven in court cases, as in almost none of the cases do prostitutes use this option to anonymously report human trafficking. Which proves the girls aren't scared to go to the police.

Bur the reason this campaign will never work is for another reason, besides it's ridiculous looking video filled with false prejudices about prostitution and the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Most girls who work in the Red Light District, and I think in prostitution in Holland in general, don't speak Dutch. Most of the girls working in the Red Light District are from Eastern Europe, like Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary etc.
You can make a video in Dutch, but without subtitles, nobody's going to understand anything about it. And on top of that, where do they think the girls are going to see this video? The girls don't watch Dutch TV, they have their own satellite and watch TV from home, or English channels. Also they don't look on the internet for things about their own job, it's one of the reasons I don't write posts on my blog for my colleagues, because they'll never look for it anyway. So they also will never find this video online.

This campaign shows just how little the government and the police know about prostitution and specifically the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Their ideas about prostitution and the Red Light District are set back more then 20 years ago, filled with prejudices about Eastern European women, having no idea about the realities of living and working as a prostitute.  The campaign is laughable, it's so bad that even if the prostitutes will see this campaign I think they'll be pissing their pants laughing.
If they want to reach us, they'll have to drop their prejudices about us, invest in what interests us (and maybe find out we're not so different from themselves), and stop talking to us like we're dumb little children. Seriously, if this was a campaign for 5 or 6 year old kids about the dangers of violence in video games, they'd probably also be pissing their pants laughing about the bad quality and huge prejudices in this video.
Are you sure this is not satire from a comedy show? I still can't believe this is real!

Dutch version
5 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Not good. I wonder if the nice lady at the PIC has ever thought about running for office. She would be a good voice of sensibility.


  2. Ivonn Says:

    " We're not scared of pimps, because if we report them, the police will arrest him, and our problem would be solved."

    And what if there is not enough evidence ot the pimp or if this pimp threaten you that some friends will beaten you up instead of him/her? If I were a sexworker there I would be scared about this and not only the pimp him or herself. I know you can report them anonymously but still I would be scared. OK, I know it's not so easy to do anything about it when people are too scared but I guess this is why it's not that easy.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    I am interested in how these videos are disseminated. I watched them on YouTube. Are they on Dutch TV, for example, as part of a public awareness campaign? My immediate thought is that these videos are intended to discourage Dutch visitors to the main red light district. And I know that Dutch visitors have as many questions about the red light district as any other nationality. Mariska told me, for example, the first question that Dutch visitors ask is, "How many of these girls are forced into prostitution?" My own visits to the red light district (ie real experience as opposed to speculation) tells me that the 'forced narrative' is wildly inaccurate - but then I would say that, wouldn't I?

    You want to come to Amsterdam for this?

    More disinformation.

    I have used Meld misdaad anoniem. The idea is sound.


  4. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Anonymous June 20, 2014 at 1:31 PM
    No, these videos have not been aired on TV yet by my knowledge.
    As far as we (my boyfriend and I) know, this has been an online campaign. But the campaign has only been launched recently, so things could change.


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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.