25 September 2008

praying for the women in the windows (4)

people sometimes ask about the nationalities of the prostitutes. the answer usually given is a variety of different nationalities, and not so many dutch women. the amount/concentration of different nationalities changes over time - certain countries like Columbia, Romania, and Poland are pretty high. in the 1990s, a large number were from Eastern and Central Europe. before that many were from Latin America. and before that Thailand and the Philippines.

and it's hard to know the numbers - and the official ones are bound to be faulty. beside the women who work illegally or are trafficked (and thus are not recorded), many women move around a lot - to different places and different kinds of prostitution. the types of prostitution in the Netherlands were:
Form Percentage
Women in the windows 20
Streetwalkers 5
Brothels and clubs 45
Escort services 15
Service at home 5
Other* 10
Total 100
* Hotels, bars, massage parlours etc.
(numbers from 2000 - taken from the 2005 report on Prostitution published by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FAQ on Prostitution, as found on their website).

but i also wonder how much it matters about the numbers or nationalities. numbers can skew things - or separate us from the situation. numbers do not give faces or stories. numbers cannot give a picture of how many of the women are free to choose a different life, irrelevant of nationality. numbers do not give how many speak dutch - nor how many women have been here (legally) for years, even becoming dutch citizens. nor do the numbers, even of foreign women, give an idea of how many women speak neither dutch nor english - and so, irrelevant of how much help they could claim from the government, it does not share how difficult it must be for the women to communicate - with the entire world outside of their window/house/club and with those who pay them. and the numbers cannot say how many of the women have friends - or know where to go or who to turn to when things are bad - or when they want to leave.

and information (numbers and statistics) can be a good way of separating ourselves from this world, but information can also provide a means of opening our ways to things we had not seen before. and that is why i have written these blog entries on prostitution: in the hopes that people may see another picture - and be able to do something, including and especially praying.

and in terms of the Red Light District here: although i would argue that legalization of prostitution is generally a more positive situation for the women involved in prostitution, i would argue that legalization also has problems - like a demand that encourages prostitution or of not asking what unhealthy attitudes are allowed to grow if prostitution is accepted as normal. And even as the government talks about cutting down on the criminal elements related to prostitution, there are still a lot of problems with trafficking and coercion, as noted by Shared Hope, which has a video and a document (entitled Demand, found as a pdf file on the website) on the Red Light District and trafficking.

this is all that i am writing about the Red Light District for now - if i read too much or think about the situation too much, i am overwhelmed and sad by all of it.

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