Amsterdam to focus on new approach for helping sex crime victims
Amsterdam will focus more on tailor-made and individual-based aid for girls and young women who were victims of a sex crime like gang rape, sexual exploitation, or sextortion, the city said in a press release.
The municipality is thereby following advice from the National Raporteur on Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence Against Children. At the request of Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema, Rapporteur Herman Bolhaar investigated how to better protect and help these girls and young women.
Bolhaar analyzed the cases of 10 Amsterdam teenage girls who became "entangled in a web of sex, street culture and violence", the municipality said in a press statement. This sometimes included sexual contact in the gray area between consent and rape. There were sexual contacts in exchange for money, drugs, or expensive clothing, sometimes involving multiple girls and multiple boys and men. The girls were also blackmailed through social media.
The Rapporteur concluded that successfully helping these girls is only possible through good cooperation between the various professionals, including youth care, police, judiciary, medical professionals, the municipality, and if necessary youth protection, the rehabilitation service, debt assistance, and compulsory education. If a girl is identified as needing help, all these parties must make a plan on how to do so and work together.
"Every case requires customization, you have to treat every girl as an individual. That may sound obvious, but unfortunately, it is not always the case in practice. Patience is essential," Bolhaar said.
Bolhaar also called for more focus on identifying girls who need help. "The research shows that accessible help can be an entry point to reach them. Think of meetings about self-image and self-confidence, focused on your positive qualities, with a culture-sensitive and unbiased attitude. From a relationship of trust, it is possible to speak of letting go of the violence situation"
Amsterdam will strive to follow these recommendations, mayor Halsema said. "The research has shown how incredibly complex this problem is. Sexual violence seems to be increasingly part of mainstream youth culture under the influence of street culture and social media. But sexual assault is never acceptable. Sexual autonomy for all Amsterdam girls is our goal."