Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 8 December 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Parents shocked by paedophile pictures
AD reported parents of victims of the swimming teacher Benno L who has been accused of sexual abuse and rape were shocked after seeing photos and films he made of their children Monday.
A computer repairman was the one who alerted the authorities after he discovered a film of a girl with Down’s syndrome on Benno L’s hard drive. When police raided his home they discovered tens of thousands of indecent films and photographs of children, many of them mentally handicapped.
One father took legal steps to seek permission to view the material. The request was first turned down by the police.
Eventually 51 sets of parents were invited to a viewing.
Experts in AD had advised against showing parents the pictures because of the traumatic effects. But one father said he wanted to “be able to help his daughter if she wants to talk about the abuse later”.
Dutch newspapers announce jobs cuts
Trouw and de Volkskrant report job cuts in their staff due to fall in advertising revenue. Most of the 131 jobs lost at the two papers will be among supporting staff. Only 20 jobs will be lost in de Volkskrant’s editorial office and 16 at Trouw.
Both papers saw the cuts coming but had hoped they would have more time to implement them. The jobs have to go by 1 April. “It is a controlled squeeze,” said de Volkskrant editor.
Ironically, Trouw announced the paper will become four pages thicker as it has a steady readership.
The emergence of freesheets and news on the internet have made it increasingly more difficult for newspapers to compete for advertisers and to attract readers in recent years.
Since the two papers were taken over by Belgian news organisation De Persgroep, the staggering debts of EUR 185 million have been reduced 120 million.
The organisation also plans to sell nrc.next and NRC Handelsblad – as ordered by the European competition authority to ensure there is no monopoly of the Dutch newspaper sector – to rid itself of the rest of the debt.
The Dutch Journalists’ Association fears more job cuts in the future.
One in four veterans suffers from guilt
A quarter of Dutch veterans suffer from feelings of shame and guilt, according to research by Natasja Rietveld of the Veterans Institute.
Trouw reported on the study, which included 1,100 veterans from 10 peace missions.
The research revealed soldiers often feel powerless and inadequate. They are also ashamed about the disrespectful behaviour of colleagues or the luxury they have at their base compared to the poor conditions endured by the people living close-by.
The research pointed out powerlessness can be experienced as a result of rules of engagement which fail to meet the challenges faced by troops. Examples are the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon in the early 1980s and UNPROFOR in former Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have less trouble with this emotion.
Feelings of guilt are often caused by loss of control over a situation. The 1995 fall of the Bosnian town of Srebrenica while under the protection of Dutch troops is a classic example. The soldiers could only stand by and watch while men and boys were separated from the women. About 7,000 of them were later massacred and dumped in mass graves.
Earlier studies linked posttraumatic stress disorder to depression, fear and anger.
Rietveld said the amount of depression, fear and anger depends on how veterans feel emotionally. Veterans who feel ashamed avoid remembering the events which took place during the mission, which leads to more depression, fear and anger.
Rietveld concluded that Dutch soldiers are “conscientious people” with well-developed senses of norms and values.
Amsterdam bids Ramses Shaffy farewell
The papers paid their last respects to Dutch chanson singer Ramses Shaffy who died last week at the age of 76.
Trouw headlined: “Shaffy in Carré for the last time”. Posters of the popular singer in his younger days hang outside the theatre on the river Amstel. Three thousand people queued outside Carré on Monday evening to file past his closed coffin covered in red roses.
De Volkskrant printed a picture of the queue winding around the corner. Flags were flying at half-mast as fans sang some of his hits.
Shaffy will be buried Tuesday following a private ceremony.
Blow up the cabinet fireworks on sale
While the annual campaign for firework safety begins, one company has come up with a novel idea for voters to vent their frustrations with politicians on New Year’s Eve.
“Are you tired of the Dutch government, blow it up” laughed entrepreneur Cees van der Horst, who is selling packs of rockets with dolls heads depicting cabinet members and other prominent MPs.
AD reported the packs can be bought at 30 outlets.
According to Van der Horst, prominent members of the conservative VVD opposition at a meeting in Breda were enthusiastic about the idea.
On a more serious note, Van der Horst is astonished by how few people actually vote and hopes more will do so.
It remained to be seen whether cabinet members will see the funny side. In the past, entrepreneurs have been forced to withdraw products in which images of ministers were used.
On Monday, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said they couldn’t comment as they had not seen the fireworks.
Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica