MailOnline 23 Nov 2012
Thousands of other young Dutch girls, some only 11 or 12 years old, are still in the power of the prowling gangs after a controversial social experiment to legalise brothels. In a chilling parallel to the scandal sweeping Britain’s towns and cities, where a multitude of girls have been lured into sex-for-sale rings run by gangs, the Dutch pimps search out girls at school gates and in cafes, posing as ‘boyfriends’ promising romance, fast car rides and restaurant meals.
The men ply their victims with vodka and drugs. They tell them lies: that they love them and their families don’t care for them. Then, the trap set, they rape them with other gang members, often taking photos of the attack to blackmail the girl into submission. Befuddled, frightened, and too ashamed to tell parents or teachers, the girls are cynically isolated from their old lives and swept into prostitution. So dangerous are the gangs that the girls at the safe house never venture out alone, and when they have a coffee together in the back garden they are not allowed to talk about their past in case neighbours overhear.
Anything-goes Amsterdam has long been hailed as a sex mecca. The red-light district attracts thousands of customers, many of them tourists, who walk through alleys where half-naked prostitutes prance in the windows of some 300 brothels illuminated with scarlet bulbs. A century ago, the brothels were banned to stop the exploitation of women by criminal gangs of Dutch men. But gradually the sex establishments crept back, with the authorities turning a blind eye. In 2000, after pressure from prostitutes (demanding recognition as sex workers with employment rights) and Holland’s liberal intelligentsia (championing the choice of women to do what they wished with their bodies), the brothels were legalised. The working girls got permits, medical care, and now there are 5,000 in the red-light district. But things went badly wrong. Holland’s newly legal sex industry was quickly infiltrated by street-grooming gangs with one target: the under-age girl virgin who can be sold for sex.
…Lodewijk Asscher, 38, a leading politician, says: ‘Hard-line criminal behaviour is happening behind those windows. Girls are physically abused if they don’t work hard enough. It is slavery, which was abolished a long time ago in the Netherlands.’ He has championed new rules in Amsterdam’s red-light district from January. Prostitutes will sign a register and the minimum age for sex workers will be raised from 18 to 21, to try to stop girls being forced to work by the gangs.