Why prostitutes don't press charges
Often when it comes to human trafficking related to prostitution, the reason people give why so few girls go to the police is because they are scared of the pimps. That’s however not entirely true. Surely there are cases in where the traffickers have such a strong grip over the victim, that the victim is scared, these are however mostly cases with forced prostitution.

But the largest majority of human trafficking related cases aren't about forced prostitution. Forced prostitution is not nearly as big as a problem as many people think. All those high numbers about trafficking come from one single thing, girls who are being exploited. These are girls that aren't forced into prostitution against their will, as so many people often think. These are girls that are willing to do this job, to make money in hopes of a better life. Not because their life was so incredibly terrible, but simply because they want more than they have right now.

Often people call it forced by economic circumstances, and apply this reasoning to a lot to girls from Eastern Europe, girls from Romania like myself, Bulgaria, Hungary. People that use this argument always try and make it sound like these girls didn't have any other option. But let’s face it, there are many options, and rather than seeing prostitution as a ‘problem’, try to see prostitution as an incredibly quick solution to poverty. But really, most girls from Eastern Europe aren't forced by economic circumstances. Most girls could live their lives perfectly well back in their home country without a problem. The problem however is, they want something more, they don’t want to live a regular life, they want to life the classy lifestyle, they want more, more money. And simply the quickest way to get there is with prostitution. There is no other job in the world with such low requirements that makes so much money, and that’s what attracts many girls from Eastern Europe to do this job.

Problem is however, like I've talked about before here, that the living standard between Eastern Europe and West Europe is quite big. In Eastern Europe they can make a fine living with their salary, but compared to Western European standards their salary is nothing. So when girls do decide to come to West Europe to work in prostitution, that presents a problem. A money problem, but also a language problem and an immigration problem.
How do you get from a poor country to a rich country if you don’t have enough money? How do arrange a place to live if you don’t speak the language? Especially considering the fact that many house owners are reluctant to rent out a house to a prostitute, even though it’s a legal profession. And how do you arrange all the paperwork without an intimate knowledge of the Dutch bureaucratic system?

In regular immigration cases these things are often arranged by the company they are being hired by. They provide a place to live, help with the paperwork, give an advance in the salary. But since for example window prostitutes are self employed, they don’t have a company to arrange these things for them. And this is where the human traffickers come into play. Most girls don’t see them as traffickers though, and why should they? These traffickers are basically unemployment agencies that help girls by giving them a small loan so they have enough money to start up everything, they help them arrange their travel, their housing, even their paperwork. And in exchange they ask for a fee. Sometimes it’s a fixed number, sometimes it’s just the expenses with a small fee for their services, and sometimes it’s a 50/50 deal.

The 50/50 deal is probably the most common one. The deal is actually very simple. They arrange everything for you, while you pay during your entire stay 50 percent of your income for their services. Some people call it criminal, by law it’s human trafficking. Yet, funny enough, many people have the exact same deal in other jobs, and it’s completely legal. Then those people are called an unemployment agency, Holland has many of them, with Randstad Uitzendbureau as one of the biggest examples. Often these unemployment companies will find a workplace for you, some unemployment companies even help with immigration, and about 50% of your salary ends up in the pockets of these companies. My boyfriend as experience with this, as I think many young people have these days. For years he’s worked for an unemployment agency. The company where he works pays the double of his salary. Why does he only get half of his salary? Because the other half goes to the unemployment agency. Now isn't this exactly the same deal as the 50/50 deal those girls take?

So there’s a reason why girls don’t see the need to go to the police. Why would they go to the police, to press charges against people that helped them? What did the government or the police do to help them? What help they did ever get from them? Nothing!
So why would they cause problems to the only people that are willing to help them? Especially if there aren't any other options? The government in no way helps girls, but these people do. Yes, they take 50 percent of your income, but since the government isn't providing any other options, what choice do they have? Besides, unemployment companies do exactly the same thing, so why would this be illegal? Simply because it deals with prostitution?

But even if there are problems, the police isn't very helpful. Recently I've come across a girl who was having some problems and asked for my help. She had been working here for a couple of months already, when a guy came one day to her window and demanded she paid him. At first thinking it was a joke, she dismissed him. But he kept coming back, and he started to threaten her. He threatened to slit her throat if she didn't pay him. So she called the police. Smart move, right?
She waited until the police arrived, as the guy waited at her window. Once the police got there, they went inside her room to talk with her about what happened. And guess what happened next?
The police took away the girl, dismissed the guy, and took the girl to a shelter and locked her up for 3 days! Is this how we fight human trafficking and pimps these days? By locking up the victims? And worst of all, they let the guy get away without doing anything about it!

After three days she was released from the shelter, and wanted to go back to work. That was however easier said than done. My office had to refuse her. She was now officially branded a victim of trafficking, and therefor my office couldn't allow her to rent a window from them, otherwise they'd be renting out windows to victims, for which they could loose their permit.
Without a place to work and therefor no income, the girl needed help. So the office called me to ask if I could help. Together with me we sought help for her through various of my contacts. Eventually one of my contacts was able to put some political pressure on the matter, to which my office received a letter that they could allow her to rent her a room without the risk of them loosing their permit.

So let's review the whole situation. A girl is in trouble. A pimp is demanding money. Who should be punished here and who should be helped? You'd say the girl, right? Yet, all that happened was that the girl got into trouble, because of the police, and the pimp himself got away free.
The girl told me afterwards she doubted a lot before calling the police. 'For sure she would get in trouble', she told me. And unfortunately she was right. This is exactly one of those reasons why girls don't want to involve the police, because they don't do anything, all they do is cause you problems in stead of the pimp!

Naturally the girl couldn't let things rest. Why should she, right? She wasn't the criminal, she was the victim, yet they locked her up and not him! So she went to the police to press charges against the pimp. Good thing, right?
Well, think again. Once at the police station the police officer told her, that if she would press charges against this guy, she had to stop this job. In other words, she can't press charges if she keeps working, Apparently there's some rule which states that if you want to press charges against a trafficker in a case that happened less than 3 months ago, you can't do this job anymore. In short, it's either waiting until 3 months have passed before you can press charges, the pimp might have run off and the leads go cold, or you have to stop this job if you really want to go after him.
It's needless to say that few people would press charges against someone if they would loose their jobs over it. Of course the police offers you all kinds of help if you quit the job. They'll offer you a place to stay (I presume a shelter), but than again, she doesn't want to go to a shelter, she just got released from there.  And let's be honest, how many people would willingly trade in their home for a shelter because they want to press charges against someone else? Would you leave your house, simply to put a criminal behind bars? Especially if the shelter locks you up like you're the criminal. 
But paying your 1500 euro apartment without this job, even if you get money from the government, isn't going to be enough. Above all, quitting the job would mean she couldn't save up money she was set on saving up, thus postponing her plans. So naturally she declined it, meaning she can't press charges against him at this moment. 

And now people still wonder why girls don't press charges? What kind of a world do we live in, in where victims are being locked up and criminals are being let go? In where victims can't press charges unless they quit their job? In where police doesn't want to help you catch the bad guys?
It's such a weird thing, especially if you consider the hunt on pimps and traffickers, and the great lengths politicians go for to help the police fight harder against it. I mean, take for example this new plan to criminalize clients of victims. I've talked with the parliament members. They ensured me that this new law only applies to very suspicious circumstances, thus automatically (according to them) not applying to any legal places, like for example Amsterdam's Red Light District, since they are legal and therfor not suspicious circumstances. According to them this law only applies to very shady circumstances, and since you can expect that a girl working in Amsterdam's Red Light District is safe, they don't consider it to be shady circumstances, according to the policymakers.
I still want to see it in reality, because it wouldn't be the first time that a law has more disadvantages than advantages. 

But now let's take for example a case like that. A client goes to a girl under very shady circumstances. He knows she's a victim, and he goes to the police to report it. However, the police can't do anything, unless the girl herself presses charges. We all know she doesn't trust the police (read the story above for one of the many reasons). But let's say she does trust the police, and does want to press charges. The police will than actually tell her she can't work anymore for 3 months if she presses charges, making her reluctant to press charges, thus resulting in nothing happening.
In short, does that new law help to fight human trafficking? No! Does it save girls? No! Does it do anything at all? Well, not so much. In fact, even the policy makers confessed their new law applies to only a very few cases a year. Yet the impact of this law is so big, and scares away so many clients, that the end effect for both sex workers and victims are only negative. In no case does this law actually help victims or fighting trafficking. The only thing it does, is scaring away a lot of clients, damaging our industry and our income heavily. And for who, for what? For a handful of clients a year? If we can prove it at all! Because even for those handful cases a year, the policy makers have already confessed that it will be very difficult to prove things.

So what does this new law do? Basically nothing. The few cases a year for which this law is being created are so few in number, and so difficult to prove in court, that it hardly has any effect. The law above all doesn't fight trafficking. But more importantly, this law won't help if other laws prevent girls from pressing charges against their pimps.
Why don't they scrap this law, which hardly has any effect, and only scares away a large group of clients, and why don't they focus more on helping the real victims, in stead of getting more girls into trouble? Why don't they do something about the police holding back victims to press charges? Why don't they do something about girls being locked up, in stead of pimps?
I know why. Because locking up pimps doesn't decrease prostitution, but criminalizing clients does. They don't really care about victims, they only care about less prostitution. If they would really care about those victims, they wouldn't be going after the clients, but after the pimps. The clients are not the pimps, the pimps are. Arrest them, and not clients or girls!

Dutch version
2 Responses
  1. Unknown Says:

    The author of this article is a human trafficker.


  2. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Unknown
    The author of this comment is a moron.


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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.