RNW Dutch Press Review - 21 March 2008

21st March 2008, Comments 0 comments

A review of today's press from Radio Netherlands.

Today's De Telegraaf reports that 40 to 80 percent of the people who volunteer for medical trials "know nothing" about the objectives of the scientific research they are taking part in.

In its latest edition, the Dutch Medical Journal writes that volunteers more often than not have no idea what the trials are about, and therefore have no way of weighing the risks and possible consequences for their health. The journal argues that the documentation provided to the volunteers is unintelligible to most people.

"Many volunteers believe the medical trials are treatments tailored to their needs, while they are in fact intended solely to gather scientific data".

The journal argues for introducing standard procedures to ensure that volunteers are provided with adequate information about the purpose of the trial they are about to take part in.

Hate crimes  
De Volkskrant writes that Dutch police in Amsterdam and Nijmegen have launched a campaign against hate crimes. People who have been abused, assaulted or intimidated, or been confronted with vandalism because of their sexual orientation, religion or race, can file a report via a web site; anonymously if necessary.

The campaign is intended to give police better insight in the number of hate crimes. A police spokesperson says that the number of reported racist and anti-gay incidents is "Unacceptably low". Police also believe that a larger number of reports will provide points of departure for prevention and the prosecution of perpetrators.

Amsterdam police Project Manager Pierre van der Steen says that many gay people are uncomfortable talking about their experiences:

"They are ashamed, they have little confidence in how the police handles their reports. The police are regarded as a macho organisation".

The paper writes that quite often gay people don't think it important to report abusive behaviour. Mr Van der Steen says: "It's brushed aside because they feel it's part of their lives. You take a risk when you're walking hand in hand with your boyfriend. Maybe they've developed thick skin because of what they've already been through".

Lover boys
Today's Trouw features a front-page article on lover boys, who reportedly are "increasingly targeting mentally handicapped girls".

The most recent report from the People Trafficking Coordination Centre also shows that an increasing number of Turkish and Moroccan women are kept at home as slaves. Trouw writes that there has been a clear increase over the past few years, even though exact figures are not yet available.

Lover boys, who target mentally handicapped girls because they are more vulnerable, choose their victims at special schools and open care facilities. As soon as the girl has fallen under his spell, the lover boy forces her to prostitute herself.

The paper writes that some of these girls become addicted to drugs and many of them are being beaten. Data from the People Trafficking Coordination Centre also show an increase in the number of forced marriages.

In most cases these marriages involved Turkish and Moroccan men who buy a woman from their country of origin. These women are considered property and kept at home as slaves. Most of these women have no residence permits and have nowhere to go. Last year, 716 cases of people trafficking were reported in the Netherlands.
Most of the victims and perpetrators (254) had Dutch nationality.

Juvenile delinquency
AD reports on a court in the town of Dordrecht, which wants to "put the spotlight on juvenile delinquents". In a remarkable plea, the presiding judge emphasised the importance of openness in juvenile criminal cases because they get relatively little attention in the media.

Most of these cases are tried behind closed doors and the Public Prosecutor's Office usually gives out little information. The judge said that "Juvenile criminal law remains hidden, even though 40 percent of all crimes are committed by youths under 18." Her plea was prompted by the trials of youth gangs in the towns of Dordrecht and Zwijndrecht, where teenagers copied the behaviour off US gangs.

In the next two weeks, 18 young teenagers will have to stand trial for numerous acts of violence, vandalism, robbery, intimidation, the illegal possession of firearms and theft. One of the suspects cannot be convicted because he is younger than 12.

Conservative MP Fred Teeven supports the court's plea: "If from now on all juvenile criminal cases would be tried publicly, it might work as a deterrent for other youths. At present, there is this notion that sentences are generally mild."

Polar bears
Also on the front page of AD, a picture of a three-month-old polar bear cub and his mother at Ouwehands Zoo in the town of Rhenen.
The cub, which will be given a name on 6 April, was enjoying his first trip into the big outdoors. His mother, named Freedom, gave birth to two cubs in December, one of whom died after only a few days.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]

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