Less crime, more spending power, more jobs: the Netherlands is getting better

Less crime, more spending power, more jobs: the Netherlands is getting better

The quality of life in the Netherlands has shown improvement over the past 25 years, with crime rates falling, life expectancy increasing, people having more money to spend and educational standards improving, according to a major new report. And, despite the apparent rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, attitudes to 'foreigners' have softened, with 31% of people thinking there are 'too many people with other nationalities' in the Netherlands today, compared with 49% in 1994. The government's socio-cultural think-tank SCP publishes its 'state of the nation' round-up every two years but this year has compared the situation in 2017 with that of the Netherlands 25 years ago. The report shows that every group in society has progressed since then. Women are more likely to have a job, the number of people with a college or university degree has doubled to 26% and people feel themselves to be safer. Some 85% of people are generally satisfied with their lives, a similar proportion to 25 years ago. At the same time, there are 'tough problems to crack and inequalities', the researchers say. The Netherlands is a wealthy country but the number of people living in poverty has risen from 5.7% in 1990 to 6.6% today. And, the SCP says, the problems facing a group of some 700,000 people, largely single parent families and immigrants living off welfare benefits, remain serious. 'The task for the future should be to ensure as many people as possible are able to participate fully in society,' the SCP said. 12 reasons to be cheerful about life in the Netherlands  More >

Hungarian girl rescued from prostitution

42 flats evacuated in carbon monoxide scare in Leiden Three men have been remanded in custody for forcing a 13-year-old girl to work as a prostitute in Roermond in Limburg province. The men, one Dutchman aged 48 and two men from Hungary aged 49 and 51, were arrested last Friday after police found the girl at a property in Roermond. They have been charged with human trafficking. The men are thought to have taken the girl from an orphanage in Hungary and brought her to the Netherlands, the police statement said. She was found following a tip-off. Over 6,000 people in the Netherlands are the victims of human trafficking every year, two-thirds of whom are coerced into the sex trade, according to a report from the national reporter on trafficking in human beings and sexual violence in October. The maximum penalty for human trafficking was increased to 12 years in 2012 but  the average sentence was 585 days. Just five suspects last year were jailed for more than 1,500 days and almost a quarter of suspects are eventually found not guilty, the NRC said earlier this year.   More >

Winter puts paid to Zwolle ice festival

42 flats evacuated in carbon monoxide scare in Leiden This year’s edition of Zwolle’s annual ice sculpture festival is in doubt after the roof of the giant marquee where the sculptors work collapsed under the weight of snow. The show should be held from December 23 to March 4 but organizer Marc van Aalst told local broadcaster RTV Oost it will now be very difficult to stage. The ice sculptors, many of whom have come from abroad, are now unable to complete their projects in the 50 ice chambers which were housed in the tent. ‘We hope to know whether the event will go ahead in a couple of days,’ Van Aalst said. ‘It’s a drama, but we’ve not yet given up.’ A spokesman for marquee hire firm Kontent Structures said the tent had caved in because of the combination of rain and heavy snow. The ice festival bills itself as the biggest in Europe, and says 275,000 kilos of ice and 275,000 kilos of snow are involved in creating the sculptures.  More >

Sexual abuse in sport affects one in eight

Sexual abuse in sport affects one in eight youngsters, commission finds Sports clubs have to do much more to prevent the sexual abuse of their young members, which is far more prevalent than thought, according to a special commission set up by the Dutch sports body NOC*NSF. The commission, led by former minister Klaas de Vries, says that one in eight children and teenagers have experienced at least one incident of unwanted sexual attention and 4% say they have been assaulted and raped. The commission bases its conclusions on hundreds of incident reports, expert opinion and interviews with 30 victims. In particular, the commission looked at 686 cases of sexual intimidation and abuse which were made to the sports association’s various hotlines between 2001 and 2017. That showed 60% of victims were under the age of 16 and in 70% of cases, the attacker was coach or team leader. Most incidents took place at football clubs, followed by swimming and gymnastics clubs. Register The commission says sports clubs should be required by law to register all reported incidents. This would mean that incidents which are not criminal offences would have to be dealt with by the clubs themselves, rather than ignored, the commission said. The current official blacklist of coaches includes just three names, the commission pointed out. The NOC*NSF was prompted to launch the investigation after hundreds of footballers came forward in Britain to talk about being abused by trainers. And last December, Dutch cyclist Petra de Bruin told Nieuwsuur she had been abused by her trainer for years.  More >

More pay for Dutch women's football team

Dutch women’s football team reaches deal with FA on more pay The Dutch football association KNVB has reached a deal with the women's national football team on more pay, which it says will allow the internationals to focus more on their sport. The deal runs until the end of the 2019 World Cup. This summer Oranje won the European title. 'Our players deserve this,' director Jan Dirk van der Zee said. 'It is in recognition of the position which the Dutch women are now in.' 'If they are selected for an international, they will get a bigger stipend and the bonuses for qualification and progression in tournaments has also been increased sharply,' Van der Zee told website Nu.nl while declining to name amounts. The team have also become more interesting to sponsors since winning the European title and talks are underway with several companies, the KNVB director confirmed. 'We've also agreed a contract with Talpa to broadcast their games... a few years ago it cost money to organise a women's international,' he said. Equal pay Last month, top Dutch player Vivianne Miedema called for the KNVB to pay equal fees to players who are called up for the men’s and women’s national teams. The Arsenal striker pointed out that the women’s team won the European championships last summer whereas the men have failed to qualify for the last two international tournaments, yet are still paid more. Miedema said in a reaction to Tuesday's news: 'They were tough discussions at times but we are very happy with what has been agreed. We are going to do our absolute best to make 2018 a successful year and qualify for the 2019 World Cup.'  More >