Because I have quite a lot non-dutch reading followers on twitter now (and most dutch people read english anyway) I think its time to write something in english about Sekswerknieuws.
Sekswerknieuws is this blog and the twitteraccount (bio: “Freedom for prostitution, stop the witchhunt against sexworkers and their clients”) made by (me,) Wessel Koopmans (homepage in dutch). I am a client of sexworkers, but not yet out & proud enough to tell my personal story. (I am not ashamed, but its complicated.)
All the opinions of Sekswerknieuws are mine, but not all my opinions are the opinions of Sekswerknieuws.
This is what Sekswerknieuws stands for:
1 Its a human right of adults to have consensual sex with other adults. This is called self-determination. Others including the state have NO RIGHT to interfere with that. If money is paid for sex this doesn’t make this right any less valid.
Also people have the right to choose the profession of their preference and to exercise that profession, including sexwork.
2 The “legalised” prostitution system in the Netherlands is demanding that sexworkers either have a permit, rent a workplace from an owner with a permit, or to work for a company with a permit. For independent sexworkers as well as for new businesses it is nearly impossible though to get a permit. As a result a large proportion of the market is at this moment “illegal” as the state calls it (though thats not exactly true legally). Though “illegal” prostitution is not criminalised (yet) there are many ways the state can punish sexworkers and business-operaters working without a permit including enormous penalties and huge tax-bills, outing people towards neighbours and towards landlords to have them kicked out, alerting “youth-protection” services to have their children taken away etc. So “legalised” my ass. The requirement of a permit that can not be obtained still makes that sexworkers are punished. So this requirement should be abolished. Sexwork must be allowed everywhere both in residential and in commercial zones. Starting with a sexbusiness should be the same as for instance a beautysalon.
3 “Human trafficking” is a messy legal category that throws many different crimes and NON-CRIMES (like assisting sexworkers to migrate) on one big heap. Massive propaganda campaigns outright LIE that many sexworkers are forced to work without any evedence to support that. Even though this crime is rare it is true that it is an evil crime that has to be taken very seriously, as extortion and violence. To prevent, detect and prosecute these crimes they should not be mixed up with non-crimes. Under (dutch/EU) human trafficking laws ALL (personal and/or business-)partners and friends of sexworkers are at risk of prosecution for human trafficking. Because of that the police and other authorities are more a threat to sexworkers then protectors, as they should be. Human trafficking laws must be abolished. There are already better laws against crimes as abduction, violence, threats, rape, extortion etc etc.
(Suspected) DOMESTIC abuse / violence should NOT be handled in another way if the (suspected) victim is a sexworker, then if she*) had any other occupation. Domestic abuse / violence in general can not be ended until the victim WANTS too end it. Sexworkers are not more often victim of domestic abuse / violence then other people so this is NOT relevant for sexwork. Authorities say they are looking for “signs of trafficing” to protect sexworkers but its all bullshit. First they dont want to protect them, but harass them, second, the “signals” are without any value, not even usefull a little to detect domestic abuse / violence, let alone real forced prostitution which, I repeat, is VERY rare. If the numbers were as high as the state and anti-prostitution organisations claim (like “50 to 80%” without any evidence, or even if it was like “more then 10%”) there would be something to say for such an intrusive approach, but even then it wouldn’t work to treat all sexworkers as suspected victims and take away their rights to privacy and selfdetermination.
*: The state is only looking for female victims of “sextrafficking”
4 Two new lawproposals are threatening to make the situation even a lot worse. The WRP will criminalise 18, 19, 20 yr old sexworkers and their clients, and criminalise sexworkers without a permit, that will be even harder to get. The other lawproposal criminalises clients of sexworkers who “should have seen” the “signs of trafficing”, but still had sex with a sexworker who f.ex. has a tattoo or bruises. It is said that this law is NOT to criminalise ALL clients but to make them aware they have a responsebility to report suspicions. (But this obligation is not mentioned in the lawproposal at all!) In fact any client can be criminalised. Read the link about the signs of trafficking. This is bullshit! The law proposal is the ‘Swedish model’ in ‘Russian Roulette’ version, because a client can not tell how to stay on the good side of the law.
The lawproposals must be stopped. Only sexworkers and clients can do that by saying loud and clear (with actions and meetings and so) NO and by demanding our HUMAN RIGHT of sexual and professional self-determination.
Both sexworkers and clients are already very scared to be outed. The big problem is how to organise. Demonstrations can be done with masks, but to make it work we must have discussions in person and even open meetings at some point. It is taking a huge risk because the reason for our fear is VERY REAL. But if we do nothing we can be SURE the anti’s will win.
5 Sekswerknieuws believes that sexworkers should take leadership. They have the prime interest in this fight so their core organisation must be an SW-only association (Union). But without mobilising the clients sexworkers will not win. There are not enough of them for that. But even with 0,1 % of the clients supporting the fight it can be won!
Sekswerknieuws also believes that allies who are in the system (like social- or health workers, scientists, legal advisors etc.) are on the one hand usefull and important, but on the other hand can not be trusted completely. Also politicians can not be trusted. ALL politicians in the Netherlands are doing very harmful things to sexwork. They will only change position under pressure. Sexworkers and allies who are still talking with politicians or even speak at their meetings are making a huge mistake. This makes only sense if one can make a fist.
The liberation of the workers can only be the work of the workers.
As for the clients I believe many clients would want to help. Of course most of them will not risk everything, but some may be in a position to speak out. (Openly, or semi- or ‘absolute’- anonymous.)
As an outsider I cannot tell sexworkers what to do, but of course I can and will give my opinion about what would or would not work. I didn’t cover everything in this article but my times up for now. I must get this out.
ps. Sekswerknieuws has NO position on feminism. Sekswerknieuws wants to be allied with everybody who recognizes sexworkers human-rights and full decriminalisation.
But PERSONALLY I really do not get why someone who stands for equal rights and selfdetermination would call him/herself a “woman-ist”. In my opinion all the good goals are covered under the HUMAN rights banner. And because many of the bad guys (people who want a witchhunt on sexwork) are feminists I think it would be better for all the pro human rights people to get out of that bad company and STOP calling themselves feminist. (Like Marijke Vonk did.)
Best recources (I know) in english on the Dutch situation:
Zondares: Dutch Model (1) , (2) , (3) , (4) , (5) , (6)
Zondares: National Rapporteur on Trafficking
Felicia Anna: Behind the Red Light District