Laws to stop human trafficking are not being adequately enforced, leading to hundreds of victims staying under the radar for years, campaign organisation CKM has warned.
The group said it was contacted by 229 people via its online support platform Chat met Fier in 2022, 40% of whom were under 18.
The Dutch parliament recently passed a law making it an offence to pay for sex if the client knows or has good reason to suspect that a sex worker is acting under duress. The maximum jail term is four years, or six if the sex worker is underage.
But CKM says nobody has been prosecuted under the law since it came into force at the start of 2022. It blames the lack of “pro-active policies” to prevent human trafficking and break the cycle of exploitation.
“We are concerned that our reports show that victims are often exploited for years and nothing has changed,” spokesperson Shamir Ceuleers said.
“That is why are are urgently calling on the cabinet not to wait any longer with firm measures, now that tackling human trafficking has not been declared controversial [for the caretaker government].
“Chat with Fier shows once again that it is possible to reach this invisible group, but high visibility is essential for our online support services. This underlines the need for structural investment.”
Exploitation by parents
CKM also said it was concerned about the high number of underage children being sexually exploited by their parents. In the last four years it has been made aware of more than 100 cases, one-third of which involved children under the age of 16.
“Despite CKM identifying parents as a major group of perpetrators for three years in a row, firm action to deal with this appalling problem is lagging behind,” Ceuleers said.
“The vulnerable position and young age of these victims demand direct intervention.”
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