Human Trafficking and Prostitution

Date: Wednesday 3 December 2014

Organisation: Prof. dr. Edward Kleemans and Drs. Edwin Kruisbergen

Location: Universiteit Utrecht – Raadzaal – Achter Sint Pieter 200 – 3512 HT Utrecht


The Netherlands has legalised prostitution with a view to preventing situations of abuse in the sector and in order to improve the fight against such abuse. Legalisation of this vulnerable sector has given the Dutch government great responsibility and has raised new questions regarding prostitution policy and the fight against human trafficking: How far should the government go in the regulation of the prostitution sector? What exactly should the government’s role be? What does this new reality mean for various forms of human trafficking and how to fight them? These and other questions will be addressed at this CIROC Seminar.


The morning session will focus on the situation in other countries. Professor Ronald Weitzer (George Washington University, USA) will use his wide research experience to address the results of the different approaches in various European countries regarding prostitution. Professor May-Len Skilbrei (University of Oslo, Norway) will then compare the situation in the Scandinavian countries, which take a very different approach to prostitution, with that in the Netherlands. What are the Scandinavian experiences with prostitution policy and human trafficking?


The afternoon session will concentrate on new questions regarding prostitution policy and human trafficking in the Netherlands. Machteld Boot-Matthijssen of the Bureau of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings

 and Sexual Violence against Children (Bureau Nationaal Rapporteur Mensenhandel en Seksueel Geweld tegen Kinderen) will describe the latest developments in the area of human trafficking in the Dutch prostitution sector and the fight against it. Maite Verhoeven of the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) will address various informal practices that occur in connection with regulated window prostitution, despite legalisation. These practices vary from ‘errand boys’ taking care of odd jobs, to pimps showing prostitutes how things work. To what extent do these informal activities undermine prostitutes’ independence?


Various parties have struggled with the question how to deal with prostitution and the risks of human trafficking. On a municipal level,  local authorities put flesh on outlining a policy on prostitution and combating human trafficking. But how will policy and enforcement turn out? Els Martens,  senior-public prosecutor regional office East-Netherlands, will elaborate on the stubborn actual practice.

Anke van Dijke and Linda Terpstra work for the FIER centre of expertise and treatment in the field of violence in relationships of dependence (FIER expertise- en behandelcentrum op het terrein van geweld in afhankelijkheidsrelaties). They interviewed 15 offenders (suspects) for their book entitled Mensenhandelaren (Human Traffickers). In their contribution to this seminar, the authors will present these stories.


Prof. Ronald Weitzer (Professor of Sociology, George Washington University, USA)

European Prostitution Policies & Trafficking

Prof. May-Len Skilbrei (Professor in Criminology, University of Oslo, Norway)

Linking Prostitution and Human Trafficking Policies: Nordic Experiences

Mr. dr. Machteld Boot-Matthijssen (Bureau Nationaal Rapporteur Mensenhandel en Seksueel Geweld tegen Kinderen)

De aanpak van mensenhandel

Drs. Maite Verhoeven (WODC)

Informele praktijken binnen de raamprostitutie

Drs. Anke van Dijk en Drs. Linda Terpstra (FIER, expertise- en behandelcentrum op het terrein van geweld in afhankelijkheidsrelaties)

Mensenhandel: daders aan het woord

Mr. Els Martens, senior-Officier van Justitie bij het regioparket Oost-Nederland

Mensenhandel: het gaat ons allemaal aan