10 October 2013

A death gone relatively unnoticed

If a woman working as a prostitute tragically dies, it is likely related to the work that she does for a number of reasons. Perhaps it is a question of money - prostitutites are expected to make a lot and have a lot of cash available. Perhaps it is a crazy who finds it easier to harm those who are looked down in society and/or whom he considers to be less human. Perhaps it is a problem of relationship, whether that be a difficulty with a partner (something that overcomes many women whatever their work or situation) or an unhealthy relationship related to the work (e.g., pimp or traffickers). Sometimes the tragedy is continued in the lack of acknowledgement of her death, as if the media has judged that people are not interested in hearing about her - unless it makes a sensational story (cf. the death from a number of years ago).

Through a number of informal sources, I have heard that a woman from Bulgaria working in prostitution, passed away in a fire about 2 weeks ago. I had heard about it first through a blog from Van der Beer, a boyfriend of a prostitute: Brand! This was then later confirmed by someone doing outreach/rescue work for prostituties: Frits Rouvoet. Others from the Salvation Army vrouwenpastoraat had also heard about her death, including that she had died from smoke inhalation.

The woman who passed away was relatively young and from Bulgaria. Statistically speaking, both her age and, more so, her nationality are stronger indicators that she may have been a victim of human trafficking. Her tragic death also raises questions about how freely she had been here working. Rouvoet has assumed the worst; whereas Van der Beer argues that his girlfriend knows that she was there freely. I don't know; I assume I didn't know her. And even if I met her via the Salvation Army vrouwenpastoraat, it is hard to learn all the factors that led her to working behind the window. I expect the only thing we can say with certainty is that she had come to the Netherlands in the hope of a better life, and that hope has died with her.

It makes me sad that her life has ended so soon, and that her death has generally been ignored. On the one hand, I am thankful that her work has not been used to make a sensation from her death. However, it also seems that she, through a lack of acknowledgement, has been treated as less worthy of the respect that I believe we ought to give all persons, irrelevant of nationality or work.

update: Shortly after publishing this, the police provided a report about her death on 25 September, indicating that she was the victim of a crime for whom they have arrested someone. The article (in Dutch): http://www.politie.nl/nieuws/2013/oktober/10/05-overleden-vrouw-bij-brand-door-misdrijf-om-het-leven-gebracht-verdachte-aangehouden.html 

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