Illegal prostitutes (without license and/or registration) have become more active in the border communes of the city of Rotterdam and also in the Eastern provinces of the Netherlands: Overijssel and Gelderland. In Rotterdam illegal prostitution has been on the decline since new strong measures by the Dutch government have been implemented. Illegal prostitution and the accompanying crime are now moving to Vlaardingen and Ridderkerk, located 30 minutes away of Rotterdam.
In the last few years’ dozens of properties have been closed in Rotterdam. The properties usually stand in normal residential areas. In the illegal brothels one generally finds bad working conditions and exploitation of the women who work there. Neighbours have to deal many hindrances because of the visitors during the day and night. Whore hoppers stand in their streets and sometimes, by accident, in front of their door.
Schiedam, Vlaardingen, Ridderkerk, Nissewaard and Capelle aan den Ijssel have al started closing down their illegal brothels. Other municipalities in the Rotterdam region, such as Barendrecht and Maassluis, state that they are unfamiliar with illegal prostitution.
Zoomed into the Dutch cities Vlaardingen & Ridderkerk, just outside of Rotterdam.
All these facts came to light after stock-taking done by Dutch newspaper Het Algemeen Dagblad who got the information after applying for a Dutch version of a freedom of information request. According to many persons involved, municipalities still underestimate the problem. Illegal prostitutes offer their services on multiple online platforms specifically for sex or even on Dutch versions of Ebay, like Speurders.nl. Who searches for a random municipality will almost certainly find active prostitutes. A segment of them do it by the book, the others illegally.
Rotterdam has been clamping down on the sex industry in the last few years. It saw the number of in-home workers increase significantly after it closed the tippelzone (hustle zone: prostitutes can offer their sex services on a designated street outdoors or indoors) on the Keileweg. It wants to stop the uncontrolled growth.
Maria Scalei, director of SHOP (Social Workers for Prostitutes and Victims of Human Trafficking), warns against the ‘waterbed-effect’. She argues that; “Criminals will start operating in the areas where the chances of getting caught are the lowest”. Municipalities with a plan/ procedure against illegal brothels check every sexual advert. They also receive reports from the anonymous crime report hotline in the Netherlands.
Last year Rotterdam handled a total of 66 cases concerning illegal prostitution. 30 of them were about the closure of illegal prostitution brothels – including 10 massage parlours – and 29 non-compliance penalties. A total of 5 warnings were also handed out. Two times, after further study of the case, Rotterdam refrained from sanctions. By comparison: the combined number of cases for 2014 and 2015 was just 39. Documents also show that illegal prostitution isn’t just confined to problem areas, it happens in every quarter of Rotterdam.
In the eastern provinces of the Netherlands, Overijssel and Gelderland, illegal prostration has been on the increase according to the Dutch Prostitution Surveillance Team from East-Netherland. The special police team reported 100 cases of illegal prostitution in the last year alone. Three-quarters of the cases were about prostitutes working from home without a permit. In most of the cases their pimp provided the housing. In 43 cases the prostitutes had debts. They were trying to get out of debt by doing illegal prostitution. 7 times the police found cases of human trafficking.
The number of legal brothels in Gelderland and Overijssel has decreased in the last few years from 85 to 68. The surveillance team of the police checks about 1200 adverts per day so the increase of illegal prostitution is quite obvious.