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Julie BindelLondon
Julie Bindel is a frequent visitor to the Netherlands. But she is unlikely to be on the Dutch embassy's Christmas card list from now on...

Remember the Harry Enfield comedy sketch with the gay Dutch policemen, Ronald and Stefan? In one scene they describe some elderly people complaining about having witnessed a public gay orgy. Ronald’s solution is to encourage them to join in. Those of us who do not like the Dutch way of doing things recognise that Enfield’s parody is close to the bone.

The Dutch are described on one website as “anxiety ridden tall fuckers who live below sea level.” However, they largely avoid criticism. “I hate the Dutch” entered into a newspaper database produced only three hits, compared to 667 for the French.

With their uber-libertarian attitude, the Dutch can seem the most grown-up and forward thinking in Europe. But look again: in 2012, the Dutch High Court ruled that a political party set up to support and promote the rights of paedophiles should not be banned because, "Freedom of expression, freedom ... of association, including the freedom to set up a political party can be seen as the basis for a democratic society."

Jobs in brothels are advertised in job centres, and the first “naked gym” opened in 2011.

Holland has long been a champion of those spurned as exploiters and abusers in other countries. Since brothel prostitution was legalised in 2000, pimps claim the right be treated as legitimate businessmen. The annual turnover of its sex industry is in excess of 500 million Euros, of which the government receives a proportion through taxation. Jobs in brothels are advertised in job centres, and the first “naked gym” opened in 2011.

As a frequent visitor to Holland I am often envied by colleagues. It is high time we took another look at the fairy-tale mythology about how wonderful Holland and its citizens are. I loathe Holland, and in particular, its cesspit of a capital city.

Copyright: Ellywa 2007

Libertarianism gone bonkers

Amsterdam is known as “the vagina of Europe”, due to its burgeoning and blatantly advertised sex industry. It is visited every year by two million British tourists, with the majority, according to the Netherlands Board of Tourism, looking for sex and drugs. As the Dutch peddle more and more propaganda as to how wonderful their policies are on decriminalising any crime difficult to deal with, Holland is increasingly being seen as an example of libertarianism gone bonkers.

Holland was the first country to legalise prostitution, having allowed it to occur under people’s noses for centuries. The government funds the Dutch Institute for Prostitution Issues, which proselytises the regime by sending its employees around the world in an attempt to convince other countries that their way is best. “The Dutch are great at telling everyone else how wonderful their ways are,” says Elsa Hill, a support worker for a UK-based anti-trafficking organisation, “it is high time more people started to challenge them on this.”

Since legalisation, Dutch cites have become inundated with sex tourists. There are now walking tours available around the red light area of Amsterdam - led by staff at the Prostitution Information Centre (where visitors can go to learn about what a fantastic job being a prostitute is). The brochure reads: "Begin with a drink at a Prostitute Information Centre where a former prostitute will explain the system and answer any questions you may have. Then head for the red-light district and see for yourself." The two-hour tour costs 12 pounds for adults and six pounds for children. Under-threes go free.

Although the Dutch constantly boast about how “their” prostitutes are “looked after”, the majority involved in the off-street sex industry today are foreign – trafficked into the country from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia by criminal gangs in order to meet the growing demand for sexual services. Not many Dutch women want to work in prostitution, despite the government promoting it as a viable career choice.

In Utrecht, there is a drive-through brothel where customers can pull up, make a selection from among the women, park in a stall with corrugated metal dividers, have sex, and then toss their condoms in specially provided waste bins, all without leaving their vehicle.

Recently, many of the window brothels in Amsterdam were sold off, and street tolerance zones closed down because of the links between prostitution and organised crime in the Netherlands. But still, the Dutch refuse to admit that its legalised sex industry is not a bed of roses.

Local authorities in Holland are not allowed to refuse to licence brothels on “moral or ethical grounds” – to do so would make them liable to prosecution. The government considers it a violation of the human rights of those who wish to work in and visit brothels if local government officials decide to “deprive” its citizens of the right to buy sex.

Despite the government’s propaganda, there is no evidence that legalisation has benefited prostitutes. Let us not forget that the Dutch were among the biggest slave traders, and the creators of Apartheid. The prostitution industry is the most reactionary, slavish, fascist and discriminatory system that has been created in the name of modernity.

No pimps in Holland

The way that the buying and selling of human beings in Holland has been normalised is shameful. By definition, there are no pimps in Holland. According to Dutch legislation, men who own the windows and brothels, and live off the earnings of prostitution, are "managers" or "facilitators". Each time I have visited Amsterdam, I see the streets around the window prostitution area teeming with pimps, traffickers and drug dealers.

Canadian journalist Victor Malarek has researched the role of the Netherlands in the growth of women sold as sex slaves in Europe. "Countries like the Netherlands should hang their heads in shame," he says. "They should hold their flag at half-mast for what their policies on the sex trade have done to thousands of young women. Traffickers have been given a red carpet to walk on in that country."

The Dutch government funds voluntary organisations to support its prostitution policies, such as the “sex workers” union, De Rode Draad (The Red Thread), of which only 100 of Holland’s 25,000 prostitutes were members prior to it losing funding and becoming largely inoperative. I and other feminist activists always considered it to be a respectable front for the largely unregulated and criminal sex industry. There are also unions representing pimps and customers. There is also, of course, a union for hard-drug users – The Junkie’s Union.

Gangs in the Netherlands appear, according to law enforcers, to be trafficking drugs throughout Europe. This has not endeared the Dutch to countries with stricter drugs policies. In Amsterdam, heroin addicts injecting themselves in public are a common sight. The Dutch are proud, however, of the fact that cannabis can be bought and smoked freely in any of the thousands of coffee shops in the country.

“We are not repressed like people in your country. We give our children proper sex education.”

Holland is drowning in hard-core pornography. The many sex shops dotted around the city have private booths in which customers can view samples of hard-core pornography whilst masturbating. I see what looks like a family in one of the shops – husband, wife and two teenage children. I ask if this is a regular thing for families to do together. The father tells me, “We are not repressed like people in your country. We give our children proper sex education.”

Copyright: Tourke, 2010. Because we couldn't show you a picture showing anything in the below paragraph...

The shops sell rubber dolls with protruding mouths, anuses and vaginas. During my recent visit to Amsterdam I called at a local newsagent. As I reached for a newspaper, I noticed I was inches away from huge photographs in the window of a woman being penetrated in her mouth, anus and vagina by no fewer than five men. The picture was advertising the vast array of gratuitous pornography on sale in this cute-looking corner shop. As I was leaving, a group of school-children came in to buy sweets.

The Paedophile Party

Child abusers are known to seek refuge in Holland. Over the past 15 years, police have uncovered paedophile rings and individuals hiding in Amsterdam to take advantage of easily accessible child pornography and trafficked children. Dutch legislation on the age of consent permits sex between an adult and a child between 12 and 16 “if the young person consents”. Twelve-year-olds are able to go anonymously to a clinic and be given contraceptives, with no questions asked. “How police can ascertain that a child has given consent is beyond me,” says one child protection expert I interviewed (he did not wish to be named).

Paedophiles in Holland even have their own political party. The Party for Neighbourly Love, Freedom, and Diversity (PNVD) was set up three years ago with an aim to campaign for the ‘rights’ of men who want to have sex with children. It seeks to have the legal age-of-consent officially lowered to 12, and, in the long run, completely eliminated; legalise private use of child pornography; and overturn laws which outlaw sexual contact between animals and humans.

In 2001, Holland became the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia. ‘Live and let live’ is a favourite Dutch expression, which can be easily adapted to ‘live and let die’. There are parallels between the way Holland has dealt with the issue of euthanasia and prostitution. Doctors had been, for some considerable time previous to the law being passed, killing patients who were terminally ill. Some were investigated but none ever convicted. The legislators’ response? Rather than look at ways in which the law could be implemented, they get rid of the law altogether. Child pornography – images of actual child sexual abuse - has been produced in Holland for decades. The government response? Allow a political party to campaign for the right to abuse children.

Dutch pride in their liberalism seems to disappear on occasion

Despite the Dutch bragging about their tolerance and multiculturalism, harmony seems to be cracking. Anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim attacks are on the rise, and the government is taking a firm line on those coming to live in Holland from other countries. Since 2011, immigrants have been required to pass an exam on the history and culture of Holland. To prepare, they are shown a film about windmills, tulips and architecture, as well as interviews with policymakers explaining the country’s liberal laws on drugs, prostitution and homosexuality. A “clean” version is shown to those from Islamic countries with scenes from a gay wedding, and topless women sunbathing removed. Dutch pride in their liberalism seems to disappear on occasion.

Devil's Advocaat

Is there anything positive to say about Holland’s culture? The Dutch invented pole vaulting and, apparently, introduced the character Santa Claus to the US. Pickwick tea comes from Holland, as does the notorious Christmas drink, Advocaat.

The food is pretty dreadful, unless you like pea soup or dairy en masse. One dish is literally named ‘mice’ (muisjes), which is apparently a sandwich filling; another is sour buttermilk (karnemelk). Beer is served with a two-inch coating of foam filling up the glass, which bar staff tell you “keeps it cold”; and, wine is served in thimbles and will cost you a small fortune.

Copyright: Jorge Royan, 2008

Whilst cyclists seem to treat each other with utmost courtesy, they are the bane of pedestrians’ lives. It would seem there is nowhere out of bounds for the Dutch cyclist. It is impossible to walk more than five yards before having to jump out of the way of a speeding bicycle.

We often allude to the Dutch without realising. The phrase ‘going Dutch’ probably originates from the fact that they are internationally known as scrooges, which is why, when two people go out to eat together, both are reluctant to pay for the other. Other examples include ‘Dutch courage’, meaning having to be pissed before speaking out; ‘Dutch uncle’, an allusion to the sternness and sobriety; and ‘Dutch wife’, meaning a prostitute, sex doll, or hot water bottle. One famous phrase in Holland is “If the sky comes down, we'll all be wearing a blue cap”. Then there is Van Gogh, wooden clogs, tulips and windmills. For me, the bad far, far outweighs the good.

In the 2002 Austin Powers Goldmember film, Nigel Powers says to Dutch baddy Goldmember: “There's only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the Dutch.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Main image copyright: Stevthethief 2011

#Netherlands, #Amsterdam, #Prostitution, #Austin Powers, #Polemic