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Human trafficking in prostitution in The Netherlands


Prostitution is often associated with human trafficking, yet it is unknown exactly how many victims of human trafficking there are in prostitution in The Netherlands. There are many wild guesses about how many victims in prostitution there would be, but most of these are pure estimations based on no research whatsoever.

To get an indication about the size of human trafficking in The Netherlands therefore Dutch government appointed a Dutch National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking. The Dutch Rapporteur collects data from CoMensha, who collect reports on suspicions of human trafficking from officials, such as the Dutch police and Dutch Royal Marechaussee, among with many other health- and anti-trafficking organisations

These reports are collected by CoMensha, and form the basis for the anual report of the Dutch National Rapporteur Human Trafficking to report to the Dutch government on the annual amount of 'presumed victims' in The Netherlands, as a way to give an indication to the possible size of this problem. Presumed victims are therefore not by definition all actual victims, these are just people of whom there are slight suspicions that they might be victims according to the reporting organisation.
The number of 'presumed victims' in The Netherlands have been growing since 2005. However, this is mainly due to the fact that the definition of human trafficking has changed in The Netherlands. Before 2005 human trafficking was only related to prostitution, from 2005 and after human trafficking in The Netherlands regarded any form of financial exploitation or forced labor in any industry.

From around 2010 the number of 'presumed victims' in prostitution seem to have grown enormously. It is however unlikely according to the Dutch Rapporteur Human Trafficking that this steep rise is the result of a steep rise in human trafficking. A more realistic explanation would be that there is more attention for this problem, thus resulting in more organisations reporting more suspicions.
Source: Dutch National Rapporteur Human Trafficking 2000-2015

Although the number of presumed victims may seem a lot, comparing the most recent amount of presumed victims of trafficking in prostitution with the estimated amount of prostitutes working in The Netherlands this would only result somewhere between 8% tot 3% of all the prostitutes. Since it's unknown exactly how many prostitutes work in The Netherlands, we've compared all the 827 reported 'presumed victims' of trafficking in prostitution from 2015 to a total estimated amount of prostitutes ranging from 10.000 tot maximum 30.000 prostitutes.

Source: Dutch National Rapporteur Human Trafficking 2015

So even though the total number of presumed victims may seem like a lot, and every victim of trafficking is one too many, compared to the total number of estimated prostitutes in The Netherlands, they are only a small portion.

An interesting development of reporting presumed victims of human trafficking in prostitution is the rise of reports coming from the Dutch Royal Marrechaussee (KMar) since 2012. A huge majority of the reports of the KMar revolve around a part of the human trafficking law (273F 1.3) that does not require any form of exploitation of coercion, but solely sees the help of migration to a prostitute as human trafficking in itself.

But since a recent decision of the High Court in The Netherlands decided that this specific part of the human trafficking law does not literally state that any form of coercion or exploitation is required, but it should be implied, it is very likely most of these reports from the KMar are not victims of exploitation or coercion, but simply voluntary prostitutes that get help to migrate. Therefore the National Rapporteur Human Trafficking specifies these reports separate, as they are most likely not victims of human trafficking as defined by the High Court.
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