Shocking: Numbers of human trafficking in Amsterdam
"Every day 400 women are commercially raped in Amsterdam", those were the words of mayor Eberhard van der Laan of Amsterdam, when defending Project 1012, which aims to close down 40% of all the windows in Amsterdam's famous Red Light District. The number he uses is based on the total amount of sex workers in Amsterdam, and not just those working in the Red Light District. In total there are about 4000 sex workers in Amsterdam, of which about 600 work in the Red Light District, so only a small portion of 15%. He used a research done among 94 sex workers about 5 years ago, in where 9 women stated they were forced (resulting in 10%), to claim that 400 women would be forced in prostitution in Amsterdam. In short, he's defending a project regarding 600 people, by using a shady calculation method from a total of 4000 people, to crank up the number of victims to an amount which would justify Project 1012.

But what the mayor doesn't tell you, are the official statistics that get presented each year. Because the official statistics are that last year there were 38 presumed victims in all of Amsterdam from the sex industry, and not 400 like how the mayor claims. These statistics don't just come from some small research done among less than a hundred sex workers, like the research the mayor used to make his false claims, but these numbers come from all official authorities and organisations who deal with human trafficking. These numbers are collected each year by CoMensha, the official organisation in Holland who collects all data about human trafficking, and who brings out a report each year.

Authorities which report to CoMensha are official authorities, such as the police, the public prosecutors, as well as various anti-trafficking organisations and victim shelters. All of this data is collected, and ends up in a final report of CoMensha each year. And to make things easier to report, no actual proof is required, in fact, only a hunch or a hint is enough to report these 'presumed' victims by authorities and organisations. This makes it easier for CoMensha to get a complete view over not just all the victims of whom have admitted they were victims, but also to get a view on those of whom there are only suspicions. In short, these statistics are both actual victims, as well as even the slightest suspicions.

The 38 presumed victims make up just an extremely small portion of all the sex workers in Amsterdam. In fact, 38 victims would make up less than 1% of all the sex workers in Amsterdam, even though every one would be one too many. Also the year before, in 2013, the number of presumed victims did not even come close to the 400 the mayor claims. In 2013 there were 48 presumed victims in all of Amsterdam in the sex industry.

Now one might wonder if these statistics are reliable, but than again, why wouldn't the be? They come from sources such as the police, the public prosecution office, anti-trafficking organisations and shelters. All organisations and authorities which in the past have claimed much higher percentages based on thin air. For example the police claimed it was 50 to 90%, but this was only based on the personal opinions of 6 police officers, and not on any actual research or individual cases. And if their claim would be true, how come they can't even find more than 50 sex workers of whom they have suspicions, if they really believe it's more than 50%.

Even if all of the victims of trafficking would come only from the Red Light District, it still wouldn't be much higher than 6% in 2013 and 8% in 2014. But that's assuming all 38 from last year would have come from the Red Light District alone, and none other from any other form or place where prostitution is present in Amsterdam. That's highly unlikely since for example 2 of these 38 presumed victims were male, which don't work in the Red Light District. And 4 girls were under the age of 18, of which the police has repeatedly stated in Amsterdam that minors don't work in the Red Light District at all. I even understood from some well informed sources that last year only 6 or 7 victims would have worked in the Red Light District.

One could claim that perhaps the police doesn't see everything, but also that is highly doubtful. In fact, in 2013 window prostitutes alone were checked by authorities2535 times. That, while there are only 400 windows in Amsterdam, meaning each window gets checked at least 6 times a year, an average of every two months. These 6 times a year is also the minimum required amount of times authorities are required by the mayor to check window prostitution. And yet, despite all these check ups by the police and city officials, they couldn't find more than 50 sex workers in Amsterdam in two years time, of whom they could even have the slightest suspicion that they were victims of trafficking.

This is of course quite a different picture from what the mayor paints of prostitution, and the Red Light District in particular. And this is because the mayor is trying to sell the closure of window brothels, and the entire Project 1012, as a crime fighting project, while in reality it is nothing more than a real estate project of which the sex workers have become the victim. After all, if people and journalists would find out Project 1012 is nothing more than a real estate project, to make city officials rich, while kicking out vulnerable women onto the streets without a job, this could cause some resistance against the entire project. After all, the mayor is claiming to be saving prostitutes, not endangering them more, like how he really is doing. But the mayor needs to justify his real estate project, and thus he comes with false claims of forced prostitution, using false numbers to mislead the general public and the media.

When me and 200 of my colleagues went to demonstrate against the closures of more window brothels, and demanded windows to be reopened, the mayor said to us that we should trust him and that less windows would be closed. Yet the first act he did after the demonstration, was closing down 18 unscheduled window brothels, outside of the brothels that were scheduled to close down. That's not exactly closing down less windows, but more than were originally planned. Meanwhile the mayor continued to look for an investor in his project to buy up window brothels, since the city council has cut off more funding from the city itself, and finally found Syntrus Achmea prepared to invest in the project.

But Syntrus Achmea would only invest in Project 1012, if they were allowed another real estate project elsewhere in the city. Or was it the other way around? Did the mayor refuse Syntrus Achmea a real estate project they wanted to do, unless they also invested in Project 1012? In short, the mayor blackmailed Syntrus Achmea into financing Project 1012, in exchange for the project Syntrus Achmea was really interested in, which was not Project 1012. But since the mayor is desperately seeking investors for this disastrous project, he had not much of a choice if he wanted Project 1012 to succeed.

Forcing an investor to invest in Project 1012 like this is against all laws by the way. It's illegal. But the city government lacks the balls to attack the mayor on this. They are too careful not trying to loose their own face, while the mayor is aggressively trying to get Project 1012 ready before his period as a mayor ends next year. And the mayor is aggressively selling his project using false statistics, leaving out the official statistics which are that last year there were 38 possible victims, and not 400!

Dutch version
2 Responses
  1. Prostitution is a choice. It is a profession,, but women shouldn't be forced by anyone or exploited by anyone.


  2. TiTa Says:

    Hi. Is this photo yours? I am an artist looking for material to use on my paintings about human trafficking.


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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.