The opposition
For years there has been now a debate about prostitution. Should we keep it legal? Should we adopt the Nordic Model? Should we criminalize clients of only forced prostitutes? How many forced prostitutes are there? How much crime is happening in prostitution?
They're all questions I've already giving answer to. But what's so interesting about the debate on prostitution, is the absence of prostitutes themselves. Sex workers get completely ignored, and the only sex workers who's voices are being heard are those who've become victims. It's interesting, I get to hear so many times from politicians, opinion makers and other people who seem to oppose prostitution rather then human trafficking, the fact that I'm just one girl.
So what if I'm just one girl? So is the girl who's story ends up in the newspaper about how she was forced! Just because it's one girl, doesn't mean there are more of those! So stop shutting me down as 'one of the few lucky girls' who don't get forced, because that's absolute bullshit! I've been doing this job now for more then 4 years, I know almost every girl working in the night in the Red Light District, I've talked with them, I know their personal situations, I know what drives them to do this job. It's absolute bullshit to claim these girls are forced by a pimp. In fact, there hardly are any pimps out there to begin with.

Of course there will always be people claiming girls are 'forced by financial circumstances'. Yeah, duh! Of course they are, just like everyone else is forced by financial circumstances to do his or her job! It's called capitalism, look it up! If you don't like it, you can always move to North Korea, where they have communism, the opposite of capitalism!
And then of course there are those people who claim that this job was not our free choice. Well, let's be honest here. How many people here did the job they actually wanted to do? I bet most of you aren't doing the job you always dreamed about! Does that mean you got forced into this job by financial circumstances? Yes, absolutely, because that's how the capitalistic system works. Does that mean you hate your job? Perhaps for some, others might not hate it, but accept it as a necessary evil.

There are so many people who claim shit that's either completely one-sided, but many times also completely false. Or the most difficult thing I have to try and explain, people that claim both one-sided stories and use lies mixed together. Often they'll rely on false statistics and support those false statistics with one-sided stories. And when I'm talking about a one-sided story, I mean stories like how Renate van der Zee tells them.
Renate van der Zee may talk to a prostitute, ask her how the work is going, if it's a difficult time now with the financial crisis and all. Then she'll ask some more things, like how much she charges to come in, etc.
In the end you'll end up with a story of 'how bad the situation for women in prostitution is', because 'they're struggling to make the money for their room, due to the low prices and financial crisis', etc. (example here)
Renate van der Zee simply tells only one side of the story prostitutes tells her, and because there are too few people to tell otherwise, people will accept what she says, because she at least talks to prostitutes. Too bad though she only shines light on one side of the story, the side that she likes to show, the bad parts about my job. The things she doesn't mention, she leaves out because she can't use them in her story to 'prove' how bad and 'incredibly inhumane' prostitution is. She's a complete bitch, but then again, so am I for her, so I guess that makes us even.

And Renate van der Zee is just one example like this. Other examples of people who use a mix of lies and manipulation of true stories are people like Gert-Jan Segers and Frits Rouvoet. Frits Rouvoet is especially an interesting one. Claiming to safe women from human trafficking and pimps, while actually just helping out girls who want (or her talked into) quitting the job. Because if Frits Rouvoet would really be 'saving victims', I wonder why he never takes these women to the police to do a prosecution for her 'pimp'. Would that really be because those girls are so terrified of their pimp (but apparently not terrified enough to tell Frits Rouvoet and run away with him), or is it because there is no pimp forcing her? By the way, how come that those 'cruel' pimps, like how you always hear about in the media, that beat the shit out of a girl to force her into prostitution, are no match for an old man? Does Frits Rouvoet secretly take karate lessons to beat the fuck out of those guys keeping a girl as a slave, or does he wear a shotgun under that long coat of his?
If the girls are so forced like Frits claims, and how you always hear from the media. And if those girls are really so trapped in their situation by an aggressive pimp, then how come Frits Rouvoet never ever got beat up?

Frits keeps telling everyone that there are so many victims, but if he knows those girls like he claims, why doesn't he go to the police and report it? Sometimes I really do hope that new law that criminalizes clients of forced prostitutes makes it, because that would make Frits Rouvoet just as much a criminal as all those clients that purposely go to a prostitute that's forced. If Frits knows there are forced girls, but he doesn't report it, he's just as much an asshole as those 'supposed' clients who visit forced prostitutes knowing they're forced.
But Frits makes it even worse! He even claims to know a group of boys that purposly visit prostitutes who are forced. He even claims they know exactly which ones are forced, and then go to those girls, to force them to do it without condom (source here). What I'm really surprised about is the fact that apparently Frits Rouvoet knows this group of guys, and still hasn't reported them to the police, so the police can try and find out which girls are forced and which girls aren't. But I think I know the reason why Frits doesn't tell this to the police. The reason is because it's not really true. First of all the group he's talking about, is a group of boys of 17 years old, as he mentioned somewhere else. There are no girls working here that would take in 17 year old boys, simply because they're too young to go inside. There's a rule you have to be at least 18 as a client. If you get caught with a client that's not 18 yet, you not only loose your room, but your job as well. In short, there's no way in hell any girl would ever take these guys in.
My guess is, Frits hears tough guy talk, and either believes it (which kinda shows his ignorance), or immediately thinks 'this could be a good story to tell the media' (which means he knows it's not true). Either way, the story is complete bullshit. Either the guys he's talking about 'think' they know which girls are forced, or they're just trying to act cool and tough, in both ways it ain't true.

It's virtually impossible for a client to know if a girl is forced, like how also Esta Steyn from Stop The Traffik confirmed to me (begs to ask the question though why does Stop The Traffik want to create awareness about something people can't find out anyway?). I've already talked this over in my post here, that's it's almost impossible for a client to find out. The girls that are really forced are good at hiding it, and the so called 'signs' could apply to any prostitute, making them worthless to try and identify a forced girl. It's the same problem the Nationaal Rapporteur keeps having, she can't figure out which ones are really suspicious cases and which ones aren't, so she just reports them all as suspicious cases (all 1200 of them!) not to be blamed afterwards for underestimating the problem (source here).
What I always wonder is, if people know there are so many forced girls, why don't they help them if they know it so well? I mean, isn't it cruel to know girls that are forced, but not helping them and in stead run to the media to report about it? I don't think that's true. My guess is very simple, these people want to get rid of prostitution, they don't like it because they believe it's morally wrong, either from a feministic point of view or a Christian point of view, and they'll spread as many bad stories (both lies and true) as they can come up with, to make prostitution look bad in order to make it illegal again. They don't give a fuck about those girls who are really forced, they're just meat to be used by them as leverage to achieve their goal. So who's using who now?!

But I do have to admit one thing. Those people that love to tell bad stories about prostitution, in order to criminalize it, they're right about one thing. The sex industry has been neglecting the victims. After all, the sex industry has done very little to almost nothing to stop human trafficking. All they've done so far is trying to stop laws that would make it worse for those girls who are forced, which at the same time just happens to work in the advantage of the girls they're advocating, the prostitutes who aren't forced.
The last thing the sex industry achieved to stop human trafficking, was legalizing prostitution in 2000. But after that, they've only admitted there are a few girls who are victims, and that's kind of it. The opposition however, together with the people that are neutral in this debate because they don't know enough about it, have started up so called 'rescue organisations'. Regardless of the fact if those rescue organisations do a good or a bad job, at least they're trying to rescue girls, I'll give them that. Unlike the sex industry, which has not had one single anti-trafficking organisation set up since the problem became big in the media.
And I also know why. The sex industry knows very well, just like me, the problem really isn't as big as a lot of people claim. But out of fear of proving the opposition right with their horrifying trafficking stories, the sex industry has been too busy telling the other side of the story. Every time some idiot comes up with a story about how huge human trafficking is in the prostitution, and how most girls are forced, the sex industry jumps in defense mode, trying to repair the damage by nuancing the story that not most girls are forced, just a minority.

If the sex industry would set up a anti-human trafficking organisations, to fight trafficking from inside, they're scared people like Renate van der Zee and Gert-Jan Segers would claim they're right, even though they're not. The sex industry is too scared to try and explain everything, out of fear that the explanation is too complex for the general public. That's partially also because people like Renate van der Zee keeps pushing the sex industry in this position. They always claim people are 'ignoring' human trafficking, or saying 'it doesn't exist' or are 'belittling' the problem. That's complete bullshit!
But the sex industry feels like they're being attacked on a problem that's by far not as big as the opposition claims, and feels that at the moment they start fighting it, they're admitting to the words of the opposition. After all, why would you start to fight a problem, while you claim for yourself it's hardly a problem at all? They're too scared that nuancing the story, and fighting human trafficking, might be confusing the general public, and they spend all their time explaining the other side of the story the opposition didn't mention, to protect their own interests, their moral code.

In my eyes the solution to human trafficking would be more simpler. I already wrote a part about how to prevent human trafficking, which is one of the many steps in fighting human trafficking here. But the other step has to come from within the sex industry itself. The sex industry has to form their own anti-trafficking organisation. That organisation would be much more powerful and effective in the sex industry, since it draws it's power from within the sex industry, rather then from outside. The sex industry also knows better then anyone else how to maneuver itself, and how to get contact.
The benefit of doing this from within the sex industry, that not only would the contact between the advocates of sex work and the sex workers themselves be better, it would also shut up the opposition. Let them talk about all their horror stories. Try and find that relatively small group of girls that are victims, help them out quick, and the opposition would have no ammunition to fire on us anymore. If we fix the problems ourselves, there's nobody to criticize us for it. But only telling the other side of the story the opposition lacks to tell about for self preservation, is neglecting that which is most important, namely a healthy sex industry, which is after all what everyone's after, except for the opposition who would have nothing to base their stories on anymore.

Yes, human trafficking happens in prostitution, probably a lot more then it does in other industries. But let's face it, prostitution hasn't been accepted as a legal job for that long, so give it some time to get on it's feet. The constant pounding from the opposition, namely anti-trafficking organisations, politicians and opinion makers with their own agenda's, aren't helping with that. Fixing the problem from within is the best solution, as there lies the most knowledge about the problem and the industry, and there's also the most interest to get a healthy industry. Sex workers organisations shouldn't just be focused on improving the situation of sex workers that aren't forced. I know that's not their intention, but that is what they're focusing on. Unfortunately also forced girls are sex workers. Those girls need to be helped by sex workers organisations as much as other sex workers need to be helped in getting more rights.
Sex workers advocates shouldn't be picky about who they're advocating. Don't be picky about advocating just those sex workers who you want to defend, and those you wish not to defend. Either you advocate sex workers, or you don't, but don't just advocate those sex workers which aren't forced. Do more then just admitting trafficking exists, act on it. Don't just stand there and talk, do something! Get us our rights, and get those forced girls out of here! You can blame others for not doing their jobs right as trafficking organisations, or not providing the right statistics, but if you don't do anything yourself you don't have any right to blame them, because at least they're doing something. Even if it's less then 8%, those girls still deserve as much help and attention as we (the free sex workers) need from sex worker advocates and organisations, even though fortunately we're more then 90% of the entire industry. Help us make our industry better, by taking out the rotten apples, and nurturing the healthy ones!

Dutch version
4 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    I think Sunday must be your day off (lol)!!! "Fixing the problem from within is the best solution". Ohhhhhh my, ohhhhhh my! I tell you, I am transfixed by your posts - the energy, the commitment, the sense of injustice. Fix-it-from-within is sooooo clever! Lange Niezel


  2. Richard Says:

    I noticed about two weeks ago that your boyfriend, on twitter, used the word whore as an insult and meant it disparagingly. I'm not on twitter myself so couldn't talk to him directly. But I feel this needs to be discussed openly. Why would he use it derogatively while he is advocating FOR whores? You don't like the term but a lot of your colleagues actually prefer it. I've noticed that sometimes he is a bit very quick in his reactions and can get caught up in the heat of the moment, but this is something I take offence to.

    Richard


  3. @Richard
    I don't know how many sex workers you've talked with, but in my experience only very few sex workers do not get offended by the word whore. If there are those who are not, then that's good for them, but many do not prefer it, since besides a (not so nice) name for a sex worker, it's also profanity.

    I use the word whore as profanity. If there are sex workers who take this as an insult I'd like to hear it from themselves. After all, sex workers are not as shy as everyone thinks, and they can speak perfectly well for themselves as you might have noticed.

    The reason I use the word whore, is because I use it for those that feel offended by it. If you don't feel offended by it, there's no point in using it. Besides that I make a differentiation between a whore and a sex worker/prostitute. A sex worker or prostitute is a neutral name with no negative vibes surrounding it, while a whore is a word that has a definite negative vibe to it, even to many sex workers.

    Besides that a whore is another word for a prostitute OR an immoral woman. And to be very honest, I don't consider most prostitutes to be immoral, rather the opposite.
    So if some prostitutes don't mind being called an immoral woman, that's good for them, but I don't see them that way. People I dislike very much however can be immoral women in my opinion, and that's why the use of the word whore.


  4. Richard Says:

    @Mark,
    I don't pretend to talk for prostitutes, it was my own view. If prostitutes were easily offended by just words they wouldn't last long in the business. Perhaps offended wasn't the correct term, but I do think it is very strange that you would use a word that has no other meaning than that what your own girlfriend does to insult someone else. It sends the message that you look down on whores even though you advocate for their rights. I know a lot of sexworkers don't like the term, but there are a lot that actually do and have stated so on the internet. They are definitely not the only ones who feel that way, that would be statistically absurd.

    It is clear to me that you have a definition of the word that is negative and having heard it many times used that way I understand why. A word in itself has no positive or negative ring to it. It is the meaning you attach to it. Perhaps if you try to look it up you'll notice where the word came from. It means: lover, friend, care, desire, dear. Nothing immoral about that now is it?

    If you look what prostitute means: to expose publically. Granted, that is what your girlfriend and her colleagues do in windowprostitution. Originally the word comes from prostibulae, which were simply unregistered whores.

    The sample sexworkers you talk to are predominantly Romanian and Bulgarian ladies who work at De Wallen in windowprostitution. This is quite a specific sample and doesn't necessarily represent all sexworkers. How many women have you talked to that don't work in that area? Escorts, private house workers, club workers, (yes there is a difference between club and private house) streetprostitutes, workers from home? Sexworkers from Rotterdam, The Hague? Or from somewhere different? How many have you actually asked what they think about the terms to describe their work? You have an advantage in that you can talk to them in a social setting. Most people only talk to prostitutes in their worksetting. For one because in private live you don't know who is and who isn't a prostitute. And when at work they want to get paid for their time. That gets real expensive real quick! And then they probably say what they think you want to hear. To not upset you, to keep you as a possible client in the future. Because they don't know if they can trust you or not. That takes more time and more money. You see the problem in asking whores themselves?

    However, this is getting way to long and isn't really what we should be talking about. Although I think the basics should be clear and we shouldn't insult people with sexwords if we want a positive look on prostitution.

    As for sexworkers who prefer the term whore? Or at least don't think it's insulting? For instance KleinHoertje: 18 july 2014. Discussion about the term sexworker. "By the way, I prefer whore."
    Same day HappyHooker: "I keep it with what I like to hear: whore."
    "Prostitute started as an insult but is now made neutral. Whore is rude but honest".
    The women on the SAAFE forum who think it just describes what they do. Though probably not all of them like it.
    Zondares, also well known I think, did a complete blogpost on it. March 21 2011: the word Hoer. (whore). She also uses it a lot in her blogtitles as you should have noticed.
    And last but not least the internationally well known and for readers most easily verified Maggie McNeill in Q & A May 2011 (31st). She states to actually liking the term whore. And a lot of women commenting and corresponding with her also use it to describe themselves.

    So you see there are a lot who disagree with your premise.


    (As a sidenote: look up the translation of nearly and merely. And conclusion or conclusie is with only 1 s. Also, then and than aren't interchangeable.)

    Richard


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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.