Thursday, September 4, 2014

Country Overview: The Netherlands

It's so nice to finally have time to sit down and write a post about my time in the Netherlands! My first two meetings this week were rescheduled, unfortunately, so nothing much to report in that area. However, I have stayed extremely busy fighting jet lag and exploring the amazing city of Amsterdam.

During my 18-day stay in the Netherlands, I am living primarily in Amsterdam, but many of the organizations I will be visiting are spread out in different cities in this small country. Here's the overview of the country based on my research and first impressions.


The Basics:

The Rijks Museum


The Netherlands, as I said, is a fairly small country, with not even 17 million people (I've lived in a city with a larger population than that). Amsterdam is the capital city, but most government institutions are in The Hague. The official language is Dutch, but many people speak English as a second language with some proficiency - especially here in Amsterdam. The Netherlands is considered to have an extremely liberal and highly modernized society.



My Project and The Netherlands:

Prostitution has been legal in The Netherlands since the 1800's, but only recently, in 2000, was organized prostitution in the form of brothels legalized. Those working as prostitutes must have a license, and brothels are regularly inspected in order to combat health and safety risks. Trafficking and forced prostitution are illegal and punishable under the Dutch Penal Code

According to the 2014 TIP Report, The Netherlands has made significant improvements in the prosecution of perpetrators, protection of victims, and prevention of trafficking. Much of the aftercare is provided to victims by the government or through non-governmental organizations that receive some government support. However, non-governmental organizations report that victims may not receive all the aftercare services that they need if an individual decides not to press charges against the trafficker. These NGO's also reported a decrease in funding over the last year.

The Netherlands is an interesting case for my project. While the legalization of prostitution seems to have reduced the number of trafficking victims because of regulation, many people within anti-trafficking movements and organizations see this as a far more complicated issue. I am visiting many organizations in order to make more contacts for some of my other countries (as many organizations are headquartered here), as well as to ask these specific questions:

  1. In a country where prostitution is legal, what is the definition of "victim" of trafficking?
  2. How does the legalization of prostitution affect the incidence of trafficking?
  3. Do the regulations on prostitution effectively reduce sexual violence and exploitation?
  4. Are there any loopholes in the law that are being used by traffickers to exploit women here?
  5. How do people in The Netherlands react to news about sexual violence and exploitation?

I'm looking forward to sharing with you what I find!


First Impressions:

The first thing that I noticed here is that bikes absolutely rule the road. Everyone here owns a bike, and my host has generously allowed me to borrow hers while she is out of the country. Nearly every street has a seperate bike lane - often protected from traffic by a median. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing, because I don't know all of the rules. Most of it is pretty intuitive, though, so I am looking like I belong here more and more by the day. Since the weather has been incredible here, I've enjoyed seeing the city from a bike seat.

I absolutely love the canals that snake through the entire city. You don't have to go very far to find a beautiful view like this one. Some people live in houseboats on the canals. These waterways have made it pretty easy to navigate around the city, since you can follow them to your destination.

Finally, the Dutch people - especially those hosting and helping me - are incredible! I have felt very welcomed, and it's nice that people are willing to struggle with their English in order to communicate with me.

I can't wait to share more about this country!


1 comment:

Molly[Mae] said...

So cool to hear about your experience after having been there this summer! So excited about your research and all you'll learn! I love you and am praying for you!