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Network of human traffickers forced women into prostitution in Amsterdam

DutchAmsterdam.nl — With the arrest of five pimps and four operators of window brothels in Amsterdam’s Red Light District the Netherlands’ Public Prosecution Service believes it has captured an international network of human traffickers.

Enforcing their demands with brute violence the gang forced a large number of women to work as prostitutes.

Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reports the women, recruited in both Hungary and the Netherlands, were constantly monitored and were ferried between their home and work. They were not allowed to have social contacts outside of the network.

Three of the pimps are women from Hungary. The two men are from Hungary and the Netherlands. The brothel operators are Dutch, two of them of Turkish origin.

Loverboys: Manipulative Pimps

The Hungarian women were tricked into coming to Holland with promises of well-paid jobs.

Most of the women are from the Roma community. That includes the female pimps, whom the Justice Department considers to be victims as well. Gang members used the threat of violence to force them into befriending women who were then encouraged to seek their fortune in the Netherlands — were they were subsequently pressured into slavery.

According to De Volkskrant prosecutors think it is likely gang members used the so-called loverboys approach in which a vulnerable woman is manipulated into becoming psychologically dependent on her pimp.

British newspaper The Guardian last summer described the phenomenon as follows:

Loverboys, often in their 20s, single out insecure, underage girls in schools, coffee-shops, outside care homes, and woo them as “boyfriends”, promising love, clothes, status and excitement. Then they start to run them as prostitutes, drug-mules and gun-runners, or extort money from them, isolating them from their friends and families.

The girls, emotionally and financially dependent on their loverboys, find themselves locked into a cycle of abuse, sometimes made to work in windows in official red-light districts or being handed from flat to flat in several cities.

Amanda de Wind, who manages a project that runs the Netherlands’ only anonymous shelter specifically for escaped victims of loverboys, said: “I think this kind of thing is happening in every country, such as England, Germany, Russia, and accounts for 99% of the prostitution of young girls.”

In most of the cases she saw the girls had mental health problems; many had previously been victims of sexual abuse. “A loverboy can easily spot and target someone who has been raped,” she said.

Often a loverboy would take a girl with him to watch while he beat up someone else, she added. “The girls are told: ‘If you run away, I’ll go after your sister, your mother’.” Recently loverboys have branched out into drug-running and extortion, which is harder for the police to spot. “We have seen loverboys making the girls take out bank loans when they turn 18 and hand over the money, or register cars and insurance in their name,” De Wind said.
– Source: ‘Loverboys’ child prostitution scandal back in Dutch spotlightoffsite, Angelique Crisafis in Amsterdam, The Guardian, Tuesday 18 August 2009

In the year-long investigation prosecutors have thus far identified 13 victims.

The pimps were arrested between August and November last year; the brothel operators — both henchmen and actual owners — in recent weeks.

Charges will include human trafficking, rape, and assault and money laundering.

The first pimp is expected to face a judge in a few months. Other cases will take more time to prepare due to legal interaction with Hungary.

Crackdown on Crime in the Red Light District

Amsterdam’s Red Light District has come under closer scrutiny in recent years. It is one of the focus areas for Project 1012 — a large-scale approach designed to spruce up downtown Amsterdam.

Part of the project involves a crackdown on crime
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