Victims of 'loverboys' not taken seriously by Dutch police
The youth movement of the Dutch socialist party (ROOD) says victims of so-called loverboys need to be taken more seriously and their protection and assistance need to be improved.This conclusion was drawn from ROOD’s investigation including 21 interviews with girls who were between 12 and 24 years old when forced into prostitution by their ‘boyfriends’.
Loverboys operate through romantic relationships with young impressionable girls. Once they win a girl’s trust, they blackmail or charm her into prostitution. Victims worked in the Netherlands, Belgium, but also in Paris.
ROOD mainly asked questions about victims’ experiences with reporting the crime and victims’ trust in the police. The stories are upsetting and the way the police deals with victims can also be horrible, says ROOD.
Victims who have the courage to report the crime are often not taken seriously and are sent away. “I reported my case six times at different police stations. I was sent away every time,” says one of the girls who was interviewed.
ROOD wants all obstacles to reporting a crime to disappear because victims often find it hard to report what happened to them. ROOD calls on the police to inform girls about the procedure for reporting the crime and asks police not to let contact with victims fade.
“The police can’t wait and see, they need to take action so that evidence can be collected,” says Jamila Yahyaoui, spokesperson of ROOD. “The police should be receptive to the girl’s complaints, we can not ignore them. These girls are forced into prostitution and are seriously being abused by their pimps,” she adds.
Besides the schooling of detectives in human trafficking, ROOD also wants other police personnel such as counter and desk staff, who are the first to talk to the victims, to get adequate training.
In May 2009, Dutch writer and victim of a loverboy Maria Mosterd claimed 74,000 euros in compensation from the Thorbecke school, her former high school in Zwolle, in the north west of the Netherlands. Ms Mosterd says that the school failed to provide a safe learning environment and ignored her frequent absences.
In 2008 Maria Mosterd, who detests the euphemistic word ‘loverboy’, wrote the book ‘Real men don’t eat cheese’ in which she describes how at the age of twelve she was captured by a loverboy and the subsequent struggle to cut herself loose from him. In April 2009 she wrote ‘Bindi’ a follow up to her debut which describes how she is coping after four years of being captive to a loverboy.
How to spot a loverboy
The municipal health service in the Gooi and Vechtstreek, a region north of Utrecht, made a plan for education about and prevention of the problem. The plan specifically targets professionals who work with groups of girls.
It specifies what could be signs that a girl is a victim. Among those listed are; frequently running away, low self esteem, behaving like an adult in a sexual manner, absence from school and getting expensive presents. The website also helps girls to recognise loverboys. It lists questions that ask whether he has expensive things, deals in drugs or weapons or talks negatively about the victims close friends.
Loretta van der Horst
Photo credit: aforero