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Bijgaande brief van 1 decem ber 2009: Zie brief Humanitas Prostitutie Maatschappelijk Werk Rotterdam (ronde 1)

VROUW EN RECHT

Postbus 9520

2300 RA Leiden

info@vrouwenrecht.nl



www.vrouwenrecht.nl
Aan de leden van de Vaste Commissie voor Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties

van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal

p/a G.F.C. van Leiden, griffier
Postbus 20018
2500 EA Den Haag
cc. Vaste Commissie voor Justitie van de

Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal

p/a dhr. D. Nava, griffier

Leiden, 1 december 2009


Betreft: Wetsvoorstel Regulering prostitutie en bestrijding misstanden seksbranche

(kamerstuknr. 32 211) en Rondetafelgesprek

Geachte dames en heren,

Op 15 december aanstaande houdt uw Commissie - ter voorbereiding van uw inbreng voor het Verslag - een hoorzitting/rondetafelgesprek over het Wetsvoorstel Regulering prostitutie en bestrijding misstanden seksbranche (Kamerstuknr. 32 211).

De Vereniging voor Vrouw en Recht Clara Wichmann (opvolger van het in 2005 opgeheven Clara Wichmann Instituut dat zich bezig hield met de rechtspositie van vrouwen) maakt zich grote zorgen over de niet bedoelde effecten van genoemd wetsvoorstel. Zij ondersteunt zeer de keuze voor het houden van een rondetafelgesprek om zicht te krijgen op en inzicht in de gevolgen van de registratie. Zij zou graag als juridisch deskundige, naast experts en ervaringsdeskundige vrouwen, een uitnodiging te krijgen voor deelname aan dit gesprek.
Vooruitlopend hierop wil de Vereniging u alvast deelgenoot maken van haar zorgen omtrent de gevolgen van genoemd wetsvoorstel en aandringen op een kritische inbreng van uw fractie in het Verslag.
1. Geen opvolging aan aanbevelingen van het CEDAW-Comité

In zijn Concluding Comments op de vierde regeringsrapportage VN-Vrouwenverdrag februari 2007 sprak het toezichthoudende CEDAW-Comité zijn zorgen uit over de onvolledige evaluatie van de opheffing van het bordeelverbod. Het Comité was daarenboven zeer bezorgd over het feit dat de gevolgen van de wetswijziging op de positie van (ongedocumenteerde) migrantenvrouwen volstrekt onvoldoende in kaart waren gebracht. Daarom pleitte het CEDAW-Comité voor een onafhankelijke evaluatie waarbij expliciet aandacht geschonken zou moeten worden aan geweldsrisico’s en aan gezondheidsrisico’s.

Deze onderwerpen zijn echter niet aan de orde geweest in de tweede evaluatie van de opheffing van het bordeelverbod in 2007. Ook is er geen onderzoek geweest naar de effecten van de wetswijziging en de handhaving van het verbod op de afgifte van tewerkstellingsvergunningen op de kwetsbaarheid van migrantenprostituees voor dwang en uitbuiting. Wel blijkt uit de evaluatie dat er nauwelijks is geïnvesteerd in de verbetering van de (sociale) positie van prostituees.

Het Comité vroeg tevens aandacht voor de onbedoelde impact van voorgestelde maatregelen voor (on)gedocumenteerde prostituees.

De Vereniging voor Vrouw en Recht (hierna: de VVR) stelt vast dat in de Memorie van Toelichting op het voorliggende wetsontwerp op geen enkele wijze aandacht is besteed aan het CEDAW-Comité, noch aan zijn aanbevelingen. Dat is teleurstellend, te meer daar de regering elders zegt hoge prioriteit toe te kennen aan mensenrechten en mensenrechtenverdragen.

De Vereniging stelt u dan ook voor de regering hierop te bevragen.


2.Schaduwrapportge bij de 5de regeringsrapportage VN-Vrouwenverdrag (art. 6, P.50-53)

De VVR heeft meegewerkt en is één van de ondertekenaars van de Schaduwrapportage bij de 5de regeringsrapportage VN-Vrouwenverdrag. De VVR wijst u op de vragen over de voorgestelde wetgeving in het hoofdstuk over Artikel 6 van de schaduwrapportage p. 49 -53, met name het gestelde onder 2. (Bijlage 1). Het Netwerk VN-Vrouwenverdrag schreef u daarover namens de ondertekenende NGO’s.

De Vereniging dringt er bovendien bij u op aan om bij uw uiteindelijke oordeelsvorming over het wetsontwerp de – in februari/maart 2010 te verwachten - Concluding Observations inzake de 5de regeringsrapportage zwaar te laten wegen. Wij zullen u deze te zijner tijd sturen.
3.Strafbaarheid/controle plicht reeds nu

Voorts wil de VVR u attenderen op het feit dat de indieners van het wetsvoorstel inzake de strafbaarstelling van klanten wijzen op de nu al bestaande strafbaarheid/controleplicht van en door klanten i.v.m. minderjarigen (MvT p. 34 e.v.). De ervaring hiermee en met name de vraag hoeveel klanten op basis hiervan jaarlijks zijn geverbaliseerd is ons niet bekend en kan duiden op het effect van een dergelijke regeling. De minister zou hierop te bevragen zijn.


4. Verwijzing naar het uitvoerig commentaar en de vragen van ervaringsdeskundigen en expertisecentra

Verder verwijst de VVR naar het uitvoerige commentaar en de concrete vragen die andere expertisecentra en ervaringsdeskundigen op dit terrein u onlangs hebben doen toekomen. De belangrijkste bezwaren komen in het kort neer op het volgende:



  • Registratie van een prostituee garandeert op geen enkele wijze dat zij niet langer wordt uitgebuit of anderszins slachtoffer is of wordt van dwang of geweld

  • Uit onderzoek blijkt dat, naast het gebrek aan lange termijn bescherming en perspectief voor slachtoffers, een van de grootste obstakels om mensenhandel te beschrijden niet het gebrek aan signalen is, maar het gebrek aan opvolging daarvan. Beide problemen worden niet opgelost met een registratieplicht.

  • De instelling en handhaving van een registratieplicht vereisen het optuigen van een kostbaar bureaucratisch apparaat. Dit zal ten koste gaan van het onderzoeken van daadwerkelijke gevallen van mensenhandel.




  • De registratieplicht zal een drempel opwerpen voor vrouwen die legaal in de prostitutie willen werken uit angst voor verlies van anonimiteit en stigmatisering, waardoor het gevaar bestaat dat zij kiezen voor het illegale circuit en uit het oog van de hulpverlening en de gezondheidszorg verdwijnen. Het gevaar dat de maatregel contraproductief zal zijn en zal leiden tot een groter illegaal circuit is niet denkbeeldig.

  • Criminalisering van klanten van niet geregistreerde prostituees zal de bereidheid van klanten om misstanden te melden (een belangrijke bron van signalering) doen afnemen.

De VVR dringt er bij u op aan dit laatstgenoemde commentaar en voorgaande punten te betrekken bij uw inbreng en vragen voor het Verslag.


Wij zijn gaarne bereid de genoemde aspecten nader toe te lichten en deel te nemen aan de rondetafelconferentie van uw Commissie op 15 december as.
Hoogachtend,
Mr. M.M. van der Burg

Voorzitter VVR


Bijlage : p. 49 – 53 Shadow report by Dutch NGO´s; an examination of the Fifth report by the

Gouvernment of the Netherlands Article 6 Combating trafficking in women

and forced prostitution




Bijlage 1
Shadow report by Dutch NGO´s; an examination of the Fifth report bij Gouvernment of the Netherlands…p. 49 - 53
Article 6 Combating trafficking in women and forced prostitution
1. Criminal approach barrier to protection of trafficking victims

The NGOs are disappointed that the government refuses to acknowledge the shortcomings in

the B9-regulation in its answer to Q 27. The major shortcoming is that it makes access to

assistance and protection dependent on cooperation of the victim with the criminal justice

system, thus failing to provide adequate protection to all victims of trafficking. In the view of

the NGOs, the protection of the human rights of victims ought to prevail above the state

interest of prosecution. This would be in line with the governments’ recognition of trafficking in

human beings as a serious human rights violation,104 and the Council of Europe Convention

on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, to which the Netherlands is in the process of

becoming a party. It would also be in line with the recent advice of the Dutch Advisory Board

on Immigration Affairs (ACVZ), which proposes to de-link access to protection & assistance

and cooperation with the authorities.105



NGOs would like to know if the government is willing to provide access to assistance &

protection for victims of trafficking who are not able or willing to cooperate with the criminal

justice system.
Residence permit on humanitarian grounds restricted to limited group of victims

Under the present B9-procedure victims of trafficking are entitled to a reflection period if there

is the slightest indication that they are victims of trafficking.106 During this period expulsion is

suspended. If the victim decides to cooperate with the authorities, she/he is entitled to a

temporary residence permit for the duration of the criminal proceedings. Following this

temporary residence permit, the victim may apply for continued residence on humanitarian

grounds.

The answer of the government to Q 27 suggests that victims who decide not to cooperate

(e.g. for fear of the traffickers) can apply for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds. This

is not correct. According to the Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines107, an application for

residence on humanitarian grounds can only be submitted after having been granted a

temporary residence permit. The only possibility open to this group of victims is to apply for a

permit, calling upon the discretionary power of the Deputy Minister of Justice.108 It is then up

to the Deputy Minister to decide upon the application on a case-to-case basis.


Discretionary power’ is not an official policy

In the view of the NGOs presenting the option of ‘discretionary power’ as a ‘policy’ contradicts

the very meaning of the concept of ‘discretionary power’, that is: exceptions to the rule, e.g.

aimed at cases that are not covered by the policy and based on personal (humanitarian)

considerations. Since the introduction of the Linkage Act in 1998 (deputy) ministers of Justice

have used their ‘discretionary power’ rather often.109 NGOs perceive this as utterly

problematic as it is unclear and unverifiable on what criteria decisions are based, thus risking

creating inequality before for the law. NGOs are of the opinion that the government should

change its official policy and provide all victims of trafficking adequate protection and

assistance, independent of their capacity or willingness to cooperate with the authorities in

the prosecution of the traffickers.

NGOs are interested to know if, as suggested in its answer to Q 27, the government is willing

to amend the Aliens Act to enable all victims of trafficking to apply for a residence permit on

humanitarian grounds, independent of their (previous) cooperation with the criminal justice

system and the temporary residence permit granted then.
Role of NGOs not recognized in identification of victims of trafficking

In the Netherlands, many organisations play a role in the identification of victims of

trafficking.110 The police, however, are the only body qualified to formally identify a victim and

give access to the B9-regulation.111 Many victims of trafficking, however, are too afraid to

press charges or to testify because they don’t trust the police. They are afraid of retaliation by

the traffickers or too traumatised to be able to speak about what happened to them. They

remain silent, don’t have access to support and often end up in aliens’ custody.

NGOs suggest that, in order to prevent victims of trafficking from ending up in aliens’

detention and being deported, the role of NGOs in the (early) identification of victims of

trafficking should be formally recognized. They recommend that, in order to assess whether

or not a person is a victim of trafficking, apart from the police’s judgement, information from

NGOs and other assistance providers should be taken into account.112 The government is in

favour of cooperation between police and NGOs, but fails to describe how or when such

cooperation will be implemented.



The NGOs are interested to learn if the government is indeed willing to formally recognise the

role of NGOs in the identification of victims of trafficking and what steps it intends to take to

implement this.

Failure to identify victims in aliens’ detention

Recent research shows that the identification of victims in detention centres for aliens and

refugee centres is insufficient.113 NGOs applaud the initiative of the deputy Minister to issue

instructions to the staff of aliens’ detention centres and the Return and Departure Service to

watch for signs of trafficking and pass these on to police, so they may take steps to lift the

detention.114 They also consider it a positive sign that the government is willing to improve

access of NGOs to detention centres.

However, victims of trafficking in aliens’ detention are, contrary to the regular B9-procedure,

only allowed a reflection period if both police and the Public Prosecution Service agree (Vc

B9/3.1). In other words, as stated by the government in its response, ‘if there is evidence of

trafficking’. This contradicts the character of the reflection period, which is precisely meant to

precede the stage of ‘evidence’ by using a much lighter criterion, i.e. ‘the slightest indication

that a person might be a victim of trafficking’ in order to prevent the deportation of victims of

trafficking.



NGOs would like to know if the government is willing to apply the regular B9-procedure to

victims in aliens’ detention, i.e. to entitle them to a reflection period on the slightest indication

that they might be a victim of trafficking.
NGOs not represented in the anti-trafficking Task Force

In its answer to Q 29, the government explains the absence of NGOs in the Task Force by

stating that this could compromise their independent position. The NGOs, of course,

appreciate the concern of the government, but cannot understand how participation in the

taskforce would undermine their independence. They think it quite peculiar that both the

National Rapporteur and the NGOs think participation of NGOs would enhance the work of

the Task Force without fearing for loss of independence. The government states that the input

of NGOs is sufficiently guaranteed by the bi-annual consultation, but fails to explain how the

input of NGOs is taken into consideration.

NGOs suggest that the Committee asks the government to reconsider the role of NGOs in the

taskforce or at least explain how the input of the bi-annual consultation relates to decisions of

the Task Force.
No government response to recommendations of the National Rapporteur

The government has not yet given its opinion on the recommendations of the Fifth Report of

the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings (summer 2007), nor have

these been debated in Parliament. Consequently, many of the 66 recommendations made in

the 5th report are not yet implemented, as the Rapporteur notes in her 6th report.115

NGOs would like to suggest that the Committee urges the government to provide a detailed

response to the 5th and 6th reports of the National Rapporteur and to further implement their

recommendations.

2. Criminalisation of unregistered prostitutes does not improve their position

In its report and its answers to Q 30, the government fails to mention that in the new

Prostitution Bill it is not only proposed to criminalise clients of unregistered prostitutes, but

also prostitutes who are not willing or able to register.116 This would be the first time in Dutch

history since 1810 that prostitutes themselves are criminalised. Although presented as a

measure to improve their position, prostitutes and NGOs do not feel that mandatory

registration contributes to their empowerment. Nor will it help to combat trafficking and other

forms of violence against sex workers. Rather than empowering prostitutes, NGOs fear that

the new Bill will further stigmatise sex workers, create more obstacles for them to work

legally, safely and independently, and lead to a further flight into the illegal and unprotected

sex sector.

In its answer to Q 30, the government states that after having registered as prostitutes selfemployed

women may set up and work anywhere, as long as they work alone. However, City

Planning Ordinances in a great number of municipalities forbid home- based prostitution.

NGOs would like to know whether, under the new Bill, municipalities would be obliged to

repeal such ordinances. If not, this will mean that if a home-based self-employed prostitute

registers herself she will be ‘legal’, but not allowed to work. However, if she does not register,

she will not only work ‘illegally’ but will also be criminally liable, as are her clients. Moreover, if

self-employed prostitutes for reasons of safety prefer to work together with colleagues in one

apartment this is considered to be a prostitution business. This means they must apply for a

license, which they probably won’t get because most municipalities have maximised the

number of licenses. Moreover, municipalities will have the possibility under the new Bill to

forbid prostitution businesses.

The government continues with the statement that measures will be taken to protect the

anonymity and privacy of registered prostitutes. However, NGOs are not convinced that these

measures will be adequate. They fear that mandatory registration will lead to a further flight to

the illegal sex sector, not only of migrant but also of Dutch sex workers, as well as to the

further stigmatisation and social exclusion of prostitutes. Rather than combating trafficking

this will make them an easier prey for violence and abuse.
Mandatory registration of prostitutes does not help to combat trafficking

NGOs question whether mandatory registration is an effective means to combat trafficking.

The most it probably will do is give the authorities a false feeling of security. The mere fact

that a prostitute is registered does not mean that she cannot be or become a victim of

trafficking. Recent cases show that paper barriers are not effective in stopping criminals, and

that trafficking also happens in the licensed and ‘controlled’ sector. Moreover, migrant women

cannot register at all, as the present Migrant Labour Employment Act (Wav) prohibits the

issue of working permits for work in the sex sector.

A major problem in combating trafficking is that, in many cases, there are plenty of indications

but these are not followed up by law enforcement authorities. Another is the lack of long-term

protection and perspectives for victims of trafficking. Both problems are not solved by

mandatory registration of prostitutes. On the contrary, chances are high that precisely those

women who work under duress will be duly registered. They will be forced to do so by their

exploiters, whereas independent prostitutes will avoid registration. Moreover, experience

shows that it is illusory to think that one interview is sufficient to identify victims of trafficking.

Identification above all requires expertise and patience to gain the trust of the victim. In

addition, the implementation and enforcement of a system of mandatory registration will divert

scarce police resources from investigating real cases of trafficking into maintaining a

bureaucratic system that mostly exists on paper. At present, the police already complains of

lack of manpower to investigate (indications of) trafficking cases.


Criminalisation of clients will not protect prostitutes or combat trafficking

NGOs want to express their concern about the proposed criminalisation of clients of

unregistered prostitutes. NGOs are not convinced that clients should be made responsible for

verifying registration and residence permits of prostitutes, if even the police finds it difficult to

identify false papers. They are also concerned that clients will stop reporting indications of

abuse and coercion to the police, because of fear of prosecution if a prostitute appears to be

illegal and/or unregistered. Experience teaches that clients play an important role in reporting

abuse to the police or helping women to escape coercive situations. Moreover, criminalising

clients will add to the stigmatisation of prostitutes, which has a negative impact on both those

working on their own accord and those working under coercion. A more effective approach is

awareness raising of clients and encouraging them to report abuses, as has been done in the

successful ‘Report Crime Anonymously’ campaign.



NGOs are interested to learn what makes the government believe that mandatory registration

of prostitutes and the criminalisation of unregistered prostitutes and their clients will improve

the position of prostitutes. They would also like to know if, under the new Bill, cities will be

obliged to repeal city planning ordinances that prohibit prostitutes to work at home.

Given the serious concerns of both NGOs and sex workers about the possible negative

impacts of the proposed measures on prostitutes, the NGOs would like to know if the

government is willing to carry out a Gender Impact Assessment before introducing the

proposed measures. They also want to know what measures the government proposes to

secure the rights of prostitutes and to include their voice in the development and

implementation of prostitution policies.
Disproportionate quantity of funds for exit programmes prostitutes

The lifting of the ban on brothels served three major aims: the regulation of prostitution, the

combating of trafficking and other abuses, and the improvement of the position of sex

workers. A major failure in the implementation of the law has been the lack of measures to

improve the position of sex workers, as is shown in various evaluations. Significantly, the two

expert organisations on prostitution and trafficking in women lost their funding in 2004 and

had to stop their activities. The only remaining prostitutes’ rights organisation, the Red

Thread, has been struggling to survive and is on the verge of having to close its doors.

Although the government report maintains that 90% of the prostitutes work as self-employed,

this is mostly a paper construction, as is has been decided not to apply regular labour and

social security law to sex businesses. This means that sex workers are considered as selfemployed

even if they actually work for an employer.

In the light of this situation, NGOs feel that the government disproportionately focuses on the

development of exit programmes for prostitutes who want to change profession. In addition to

its information in the 5th report (p. 62 / p. 116 in CEDAW/C/NLD/5), the Ministry of Justice has

allocated 15 million euro’s extra to fund these programmes. NGOs suggest that an active

policy should be implemented on reducing the power of pimps, improving working conditions

and enhancing the autonomy of prostitutes.117 This should be done in cooperation with

relevant state agencies, (organisations of) sex workers, other parties directly involved, and NGOs working in the field to overcome the barriers for prostitutes to claim their (labour) rights.

NGOs are interested to learn if the government is willing to spend at least the same amount

of money on empowerment activities for sex workers as on exit programmes.

3. Trafficking and exploitation in other sectors than the sex industry

Currently ‘labour exploitation’118 is not defined in the criminal law, despite a recommendation

of the National Rapporteur in her third report that this should be done. Consequently, it is left

to the judiciary to develop a definition through case law. Cases of trafficking for exploitation

outside the sex industry, for example in domestic work, seldom lead to a conviction. In

general, the main focus is still on trafficking for the sex industry, leaving victims of other forms

of exploitation unrecognised and unprotected. The NGOs subscribe to the recommendations

of the European Commissioner for Human Rights in his report of March 2009, in which he

urges the government to follow the recommendation of the National Rapporteur speedily to

end ambiguity, thereby enhancing protection for victims of exploitation outside the sex

industry.119

NGOs suggest that the Committee asks the government why it has not yet implemented the

recommendation to define ‘labour exploitation’.

104 See e.g. Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines (Vc), p. 263

105 ACVZ, 2009, p.31

106 In its answer to Q. 27-28 the government mistakenly states a number of times that there should be ‘evidence’ of trafficking for the police to

allow a (possible) victim the reflection period. This is not correct: in order to qualify for the reflection period B9 holds that there should be ‘the

slightest indication of the person being a victim of trafficking’, which is not the same as ‘evidence’.

107 Vc B16/7, resp Vb Art. 3.52

108 Art. 3.4 sub 3 Vb 2000.

109 Damen, 2004, pp. 292-298.

110 ‘Prostitution control teams’ of the Morals Police, Aliens Police, Royal Military Police at Amsterdam Airport, Labour Inspection / Social

Intelligence and Investigation (SIOD), IND staff in detention and refugee centres, lawyers, prostitution field workers, social workers and other

assistance providers.

111 BLinN, 2009, pp. 17-18.

112 BLinN, 2009, p. 52.

113 BLinN 2009; Van Vianen et al 2007

114 Parliamentary Papers II 2008/09, 28 638, nr. 39 p. 27.

115 National Rapporteur Mensenhandel 2008, p. 1

116 E.g. because they are undocumented or because they want to protect their privacy.

117 Wijers 2009, pp. 83-84.

118 In fact this is an inaccurate term as prostitution is also considered to be labour in the Netherlands.



119 Commissioner for Human Rights 2009 (a), p. 23, para 91



1 Schone Schijn, de signalering van mensenhandel in de vergunde prostitutiesector, Korps Landelijke Politiediensten, Dienst Nationale Recherche 2008.

2 De voorgestelde registratieplicht staat los van de registratie bij de belasting en een evt. registratie bij de Kamer van Koophandel als zelfstandig ondernemer of beroepsmatig zelfstandig werkende.

3 Zie hierover katern Nemesis 1993, nr. 2 en nr. 3.

4 De opting-in regeling is geregeld in de Loonbelastingwet per 1-1-2009 en komt er in het kort op neer dat ervan uit wordt gegaan dat prostitutiearbeid in een bedrijf in loondienst plaatsvindt, tenzij men voldoet aan een voorwaardenpakket; dan is het zelfstandig, beroepsmatig. Onderdeel van het voorwaardenpakket is dat via de zgn. opting-in regeling moet worden afgerekend, hetgeen inhoudt dat de prostituee via het bedrijf belasting en premie zorgverzekering voor zelfstandigen afdraagt.

5 Zie laatste evaluatie opheffing bordeelverbod, Prostitutie in Nederland na opheffing van het bordeelverbod, WODC 2007.

6 Beleidsbrief aan de Tweede kamer, betreft seksuele gezondheid: 27 november 2009.

7 Prostitutie in Nederland na de opheffing van het bordeelverbod/ WODC, 2007





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