Victim in major child prostitution case claims she chose sex work herself
A then 16-year-old from Valkenswaard said that she entered prostitution at her own initiative in 2019. She used the ID of her 21-year-old sister from Rotterdam to mislead customers. This was revealed in the court in Den Bosch on Tuesday, where three of her drivers and 18 customers will stand trial in the coming days for human trafficking and the sexual abuse of the minor Sharella.
She stated during police questioning that she does not think it is fair that 21 men now have to appear in court because they have had sex with her, paid or not. "I feel like I'm cheating them. I misled the men myself; I'm a good liar," Sharella told the police. According to her, the three men on trial for bringing Sharella to the sex appointments weren't her pimps. "I made the appointments myself with the customers and managed the money. If I earned 500 euros, the driver would receive 150 euros."
She told the police that she had a good life because of sex work. "I made in a few days what people make in a month. The police found her through an advertisement on sexjobs.nl. An undercover cop made an appointment with Sharella and met her in a hotel in Eindhoven. When he asked her for ID, she could only show him a copy. That later turned out to belong to her 21-year-old sister. The police searched her parental home with her parents' permission and found expensive designer clothes and shoes worth 545 euros.
According to the judge, Sharella did not want to report her drivers and customers. "I have had no help and misled my customers myself. I have to carry this burden alone." She understands why the police intervened. She admitted that life as a prostitute is very hard for a 16-year-old. After three months of sex work, Sharella weighed just 44 kilograms. She is currently in a youth boarding school in Noord-Brabant.
The three drivers are suspected of human trafficking, exploitation and the sexual abuse of a minor. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) demanded prison sentences of 10 to 18 months against them on Tuesday morning. The fact that the girl started sex work at her own initiative in 2019 does not affect their culpability, according to the OM.
The harshest sentence was demanded against Samir A. (25) from Tilburg: 18 months in prison. He should have heeded all the alarm bells that she was underage, but he was only after monetary gain. Levent D. (29) from Oss and Gubert B. (35) had ten months unconditional prison sentence demanded against them.
According to the OM, the three did not do enough to find out Sharella's actual age. They suspected she was under the age of 21 that she pretended to be, but they didn't ask about it more than once. When they didn't get an answer, they left it at that.
On Tuesday, Friday, and next Monday, the 18 customers will also appear in court on suspicion of the sexual abuse of a minor.
Reporting by ANP