RNW Press Review – Wednesday 12 March 2008

12th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.

RNW Press Review – Wednesday 12 March 2008 – by Nicola Chadwick

Most of the papers print photos of the opening of the 73rd Dutch Book Week yesterday evening in Amsterdam. Dresscode was silver grey, although the honorary guest and author of this year's freebee book J Bernlef seems to have not been told. He arrives with his whole family dressed in black and white. A graffiti artist cheekily points a silver spray can in their direction.

Forever young
This year's theme is an ode to the over-60s and is entitled "The third age and literature". The traditional ball marking the opening of the event was dubbed "forever young". The ten-day book week was introduced in 1932 to promote books and reading. Although the Dutch need little encouragement. According to AD, in 2007 records were broken with 45 million books being sold.

Human trafficking
There are shocking statistics in Trouw on the increase in human trafficking. According to a report by the Coordination Centre for Human Trafficking for the Lower House, most of the victims of human trafficking in the Netherlands were actually born here and hold a Dutch passport. In fact the number of Dutch victims in 2007 actually increased by 5 percent compared to 2006. "We used to think that this sort of thing did not go on in the Netherlands" says the author of the report.
These are just the official figures; the true statistics are probably much higher, says the paper, because many victims do not go to the police.

Victims are forced to do hard work for a pittance. They are made so dependent that they are unable to choose freely to leave.

The number of male victims rose from 30 to 49 in 2007, most of them being forced to work in the construction industry and agriculture with just the odd one being forced into male prostitution.

The figures for women are much higher at almost 700, with more than half being forced into prostitution, many of them by loverboys, who lure young girls into working for them by showering them with gifts.

Eco house
Trouw and AD report on a protest against the demolition of an eco house in the Dutch town of Steenwijk. Six Green Front protesters chained themselves to the heating system in the wooden "woodland hut" or "prairie house" as its creator engineer Jan Husslage likes to call it. Riot police had to be called in to remove the protesters. A judge had ordered the deconstruction of the building after neighbours complained about construction noise.

Mr Husslage says there was a hate campaign against his low-energy home in the neighbourhood. The neighbours are concerned that the eco house could lower the value of their own homes as it is out of key with the rest of the street. Engineer Husslage remains optimistic saying he knows, "someone who is willing to have the house on their farmland."

Coffee corners
De Volkskrant reports that mayor of Maastricht has lost a court case to have coffee shops relocated to three "Coffee corners" on the edge of the city. Every day around a thousand drugs tourists come from far and wide to Maastricht to buy marijuana. A judge ruled that the mayor had not given sufficient grounds for granting building permits for the new coffee shops, after neighbouring councils complained that he was shifting the problem their way. They fear the coffee shop customers will increase criminality in the area.

The mayor of Maastricht however is determined to get his way and has placed portocabins near the new locations instead.

Cartoon crisis
The Netherlands has got its own cartoon crisis, but this time in Christian circles. Protestant Christian daily Trouw reports on the commotion caused after a free local paper printed a cartoon showing a vicar holding up a glass saying the words: "Drink this orange squash, for it is my blood".

The paper received 40 complaints directly after publication. Its editor says, "That is a lot for a paper like ours". Once the national media got wind of the story, hundreds of complaints started coming in from all over the country. Not just from Christians who felt insulted, but also in support of the cartoon. The local supermarket even decided not to distribute the newspaper for a week. Its manager says, "Freedom of speech is a great ideal, but Wereldregio just went too far".

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]

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