Reporting 1561 'possible' victims of trafficking
The National Rapporteur Human Trafficking in The Netherlands has just released their new statistics on 'possible' human trafficking. Last year (2014) 1561 'possible' victims were reported. These are not just victims of trafficking in prostitution, but in all industries together. The number of 'possible' trafficking victims in the sex industry are however a large majority. A total of 1026 'possible' victims (66%) came from the sex industry, leaving 535 (33%) of the victims coming from other industries.

Of course the issue is the focus on trafficking in prostitution. Since almost every sex worker in Holland at one time or another gets investigated, whether or not he or she is a victim or not. Yet, other industries have much less focus on this. In short, the chances that a victim of trafficking is found in the prostitution industry is much higher, since that's what the focus is on. Yet the focus on other industries is much less, thus resulting in less reported 'possible' victims from those industries.

The 'possible' victims that get reported by the National Rapporteur are not all real victims. The reports are based on people on which suspicions arise that they could be victims. This is also the reason the National Rapporteur calls them 'possible' victims, because they're not sure if the people in these reports are actually victims, or not at all. In short, the reports are based on suspicions and not on facts. Also the definition used by organisations is questionable. For example the Dutch Royal Marshals (KMar) use also the definition of a sex worker who voluntarily and without being exploited, crosses the border with help to become a sex worker in another country, as a human trafficking victim (this would be law 273f 1,3). Not a victims of exploitation of coercion at all, but simply someone who received help with migration in a legal way.

But according to the report 1561 'possible' victims were reported. That's more than one year ago when 1437 'possible' victims were reported, but less than in 2012 when 1711 were reported. Looking back at the report of the National Rapporteur in 2000 it is quite a change, back than only 341 'possible' victims were reported. So where does this increase come from? Are there simply more victims to report, as abolitionist suggest, or could there be another reason why more 'possible' victims get reported? Or are simply more people incorrectly getting reported, based on incorrect suspicions?

What could give us an answer in this situation, are the actual court cases. After all, if really more 'possible' victims would really be actual victims, it should also result in more court cases. But when looking at these numbers you will see that little has changed. Yes, the number of court cases has gone up since 2000, from 144 court cases in 2000 to 278 court cases in 2014, but the increase in court cases (98%) isn't even close to the increase in reported 'possible' victims (358%) by the National Rapporteur.

Back in 2000 the number of court cases made up 42% of all the 341 reported 'possible victims. Right now the number of court cases only make up 17% of all the 1561 reported 'possible' victims. While back in 2000 the difference between reported 'possible' victims and court cases were only 134, right now that difference has gone up to 1220 more reported 'possible' victims versus actual court cases!

The figure above shows nicely how much the number of court cases has gone up versus the number of reported 'possible' victims since 2000. So while there is an increase, though slightly, in amount of actual court cases, the increase in reported 'possible' victims has been enormous. Especially since the year 2007 the number of reported 'possible' victims has increased enormously, and has taken on such steep rise compared to the actual court cases, that it seems like something is wrong. These two things suggest that a lot of more people are incorrectly getting reported as 'possible' victims, since the increase in amount of court cases isn't even remotely close to the amount of reported 'possible' victims. In short, people get reported as 'possible' victims, but they are not actually victims.

And this also got confirmed in the previous report of the National Rapporteur Human Trafficking, in which a number of these incorrectly reported 'possible' victims were written down. I'll give two examples here of women that got counted in the previous report of the National Rapporteur as 'possible' victims, to illustrate this:

"In the course of the controls of the so-called “risk flights” out of Bulgaria, the ‘sluisteam’ (part of the border control) of the KMar [Koninklijke Marechaussee: Royal Dutch Marechaussee, or Marshals] spoke with a Bulgarian woman. This woman has been checked multiple times by the KMar when she arrived in the Netherlands, and she indicated that this was tedious. She claims to (“still”) not have anything to do with prostitution. This time she says that she is coming to the Netherlands for 3 days to visit a number of friends.  From further observation by the KMar officers to identify a possible person picking her up it seems that the woman went to the information desk of the Dutch Railway (Nederlandse Spoorwegen or NS), then made contact with someone via a public telephone, and made contact with someone again with her mobile phone. She subsequently left the airport by train. The KMar registered the woman with CoMensha." (p. 78)

And another example here:
"In the course of the controls of the so-called “risk flights” out of Bulgaria, the ‘sluisteam’ (part of the border control) of the KMar at Schiphol spoke with a highly educated Bulgarian woman. The woman admitted during a conversation with the KMar officers that she has lived in Amsterdam since sometime in 2010 and since about then has worked as a prostitute in the Netherlands, for which she registered herself with the Chamber of Commerce. She couldn’t give her monthly earnings from prostitution, but she does report that the earnings are not much and that she has kept a written record of the precise details. She can give her expenses, which concern 1,250 euros for the rent of her house, 90 euros for the rent of a window during the day and 100 euros for the rent of a window at night. After the conversation with the woman, the KMar officers observed whether the woman would be picked up. However, this seemed not to be the case: the woman simply left the airport by taxi. She was reported for registration with CoMensha." (p.79-80):

The National Rapporteur therefore also specifies the reports made by the KMar (Dutch Royal Marshals) separate from the other reports. In the below figure you can see in red the number of reported 'possible' victims by all organisations, and in blue the number of reported 'possible' victims that only got reported by the KMar itself. Especially since 2012 the number of people being reported by the KMar alone has increased enormously. In 2012 the KMar reported immediatly 500 more victims than any other organisation did.Truly victims, or people being falsely reported as 'possible' victims?

This does explain the increase in number of 'possible' victims being reported between 2011 and 2012, which went up with a staggering 40% from the year before. But how come the number of reported 'possible' victims since 2007 has went up that much more versus the actual court cases? Well, one explanation may be the person who is the National Rapporteur. Back in 2000 Dien Korvinus was the National Rapporteur. Since 2007 however Corine Dettmeijer has become the National Rapporteur, and ever since than the numbers have gone up with 845 more people being reported as 'possible' victims in 8 years time. That, while her predecessor, Dien Korvinus, only had an increase of 238 reported 'possible' victims over a period of 7 years.

More interesting is the fact that since Corine Dettmeijer has started, the number of court cases have been pretty stable. When she started back in 2007, the number of court cases were 281, and last year the number of court cases were 278. Indeed, that's 3 less court cases than when she started. So in terms of court cases there has been no increase or decrease to speak of. While the number of reported possible victims went up from 716 in 2007 (already a raise of 137 from her predecessor the year before) to 1561 last year. That's an increase of 845 'possible' victims, while the court cases didn't go up at all!

When looking at the period of Korvinus however, the number of reports did go up with 238, but so did the number of court cases with 59. Indeed, the reports went up with more than the actual court cases, also percentage wise, but not to an incredible extend. While on the other hand, since Dettmeijer has been in office the number of court cases has dropped with 1%, while the number of reports has gone up with at least 118%.

So why do Dettmeijer her numbers of reports differ so much from the actual court cases? Is Dettmeijer to blame, or is something else at work here, that causes a huge increase in what people think they see and report, and the actual facts as presented in court. One explanation could be the fact that since Dettmeijer has started, the focus on trafficking in prostitution has risen to an insane amount. Around that same time the case of Saban B. caught the media's attention. And ever since than prostitution in The Netherlands has been under a magnifying glass. Each possible hint at something that may even look only slightly like human trafficking, is immediately being seen as proof of trafficking. While in reality the number of court cases has remained the same since 2007, people are just more suspicious of prostitution, resulting in a lot more people being reported as possible victims.

Dettmeijer is only the messenger. She doesn't create the numbers, she only reports about them. After all, she is the National Rapporteur. The organisations however that make up all these reports, seem to have become paranoid, and report almost everything as a sign of trafficking, resulting in a lot more reports, without it actually being real trafficking victims. Things like having a bruise is immediatly suspicious for organisations, to which sex workers get reported as 'possible' victims, while in reality that may not be the case at all. We are humans just like any other human being, and just like others we can get bruises from a lot of things, not just because we would supposedly be victims.

The case of Saban B., which got exploited by the city of Amsterdam as an excuse to close down window brothels, has led to a witch hunt. A witch hunt on trafficking victims, which in reality hasn't increased since 2007, but people think is happening a lot more since that time. This whitch hunt has created a 'human trafficking' hype, which abolisionists like Renaten van der Zee, Gert-Jan Segers, Dick Pels, Jojanneke van den Berge and Elma Verheij gladly use for their war on sex work. Human trafficking organisations have used this hype to increase their donations and subsidizing, using these incorrect suspicions.  Meanwhile the real victims of trafficking have become a victim of this witch hunt. Because more and more sex workers that aren't victims at all get reported as victims, police and other authorities waste a lot of their time on them, while that time would be better spend on the real victims of trafficking.

Dutch version

1 Response
  1. The number of possible victims of trafficking in sex industry are more but more sex workers are not real victims.

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