Sharp increase in foreign men forced into prostitution in Netherlands: report

Stock photo teen on stone wall
Stock photo of a teen sitting against a stone Wokandapix / Pixabay

The number of reports of foreign men being forced into prostitution in the Netherlands doubled over the past year. The victims are often asylum seekers and refugees picked up by human traffickers, according to research by Radio Reporter, NPO Radio 1 reports.

The coordination center against human trafficking CoMensha received 68 reports of foreign men forced into prostitution last year, compared to 34 in 2016. "Trafficking in human beings is a hurdle crime. You have to go looking for it to see it happen", Ina Hut, director of CoMensha said to Reporter radio. The municipalities play a big role in this, she said. "But the number of municipalities that recognize human trafficking in their municipality - and invest in good care coordination for victims of trafficking - is low."

"It happens. Every day, every second. But it is the people that we do not want to talk about, the people we do not want to know about", a refugee that fell victim to forced prostitution, given the pseudonym Anando, said to Radio Reporter. Anando fled to Europe from Uganda. He first arrived in Italy, where he was sexually abused. "They did disgusting things to me. And when I came to the Netherlands, the same thing happened." In the Netherlands Anando ended up on the street, where he was picked up by a human trafficker and forced to have sex with other men.

Anando emphasized that he is not the only victim in the Netherlands. "But it's not about me, because I know that other men have worse stories", Anando said. And it isn't only asylum seekers and refugees that end up on the Netherlands' streets who fall victim to forced prostitution. People living in asylum centers also prostitute themselves, the care coordinator in Friesland and COC confirmed to the program. The COA, the agency for the reception of asylum seekers, also received signals of this, but would give Radio Reporter no figures. 

The asylum seekers who end up in forced prostitution often come from a vulnerable situation, with no permanent residency status. "Papers are taken away and they are put in dark rooms", Danielle van Went, who studied human trafficking for the Expertise Center on Human Trafficking and Prostitution, said to Radio Reporter. She and her colleagues spoke to 70 boys active in male prostitution in Eindhoven

A report by the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking from November last year sowed that 95 percent of Dutch municipalities do not have a policy on human trafficking. And 16 of the 35 responsible central municipalities haven't appointed a care coordinator - the first point of contact for human trafficking victims.