Man seems to be an animal whose capacity for lies is only equalled by his credulity; it does no good to let battalions of cats out of bags, to produce whole harems of naked facts, people eat the same three meals daily deception, and are always ready to turn with fury upon the purveyors of bagless cats and facts undraped. – John Dos Passos
For some time now, anti-sex politicians have been working to undermine the Netherlands’ legendary tolerance of sex work. Using the “trafficking” hysteria as an excuse and branding almost any male who has a relationship with a sex worker a “pimp”, these stealth-prohibitionists have made it much more difficult to get a brothel license, and in 2006 tried to revoke the licenses of 30 established brothels. In September of 2007 the city closed more than a third of the famous windows (by buying the buildings) and commissioned a study, which was published in 2010; it’s 232 pages long and available only in Dutch, but here is the conclusion and summary in English. Among its more interesting findings: underage prostitution is essentially nonexistent in Amsterdam, as are coercion and other wrongs among the roughly 20% of whores who are independent escorts and the roughly 40% who work from clubs or private incalls. It estimated the fraction of window prostitutes who were coerced to be 8%, and the fraction of the entire sex worker population involved in “wrongs” of any kind to be about 10%.
Of course, prohibitionists insist that this is a lie (or the result of “brainwashing”, “Stockholm syndrome”, “false consciousness”, etc), and proclaim (without any evidence whatsoever) that a whopping 90% of all Dutch whores are somehow coerced, exploited or otherwise harmed. Thanks to their efforts a massive police raid in search of “trafficking victims” was launched in April 2011 and found…none. Not a single blessed one, despite the detention and interrogation of 157 women. But prohibitionists never let little things like facts stop them, so they continued to push for “reforms” and “action”, all the while desperately searching for any kind of flimsy rationalization for their demands. But then they got what must have seemed like a godsend:
In the Fall of 2011, Parool and Algemeen Dagblad published the first stories of prostitute “Patricia Perquin”. She described the ways of the Amsterdam Wallen from the inside. It is her “true story”, as she later stated on the cover of her book…In revealing articles she led her readers into a world of sex, violence, humiliation, and exploitation…[she described herself as] tall, slim, blond [and] D-cup…[and] says she got into prostitution after having built up a 150,000 Euro debt due to shopping addiction. She…managed to pay it off in four and a half years…working through ten thousand clients. Her record is thirty-one in one day.
Patricia Perquin’s articles made a deep impression. Publishing house Prometheus contracted her for a book. In March 2012 the bestseller Achter het raam op de Wallen (“Behind a Window in the Wallen”) was released…[and soon] producer Talpa developed a TV series…The stories attracted the attention of Amsterdam Alderman Lodewijk Asscher, now the Deputy Prime Minister…[who was] very busy with [a project to] clean up the Wallen area. He took Patricia so seriously that he had a number of long conversations with her. “If one wants to get a realistic picture of what is happening in the Wallen all you need is to read Perquin’s book,” he said. Her tale strengthened him in his mission: stricter actions against exploitation. Perquin penetrated deeply into the world of Amsterdam policymakers…meeting with Mayor Eberhard van der Laan. “Her book moved me and it gives a very clear picture of what is happening on the Wallen,” he said in the Senate in June 2012, pleading for a quick introduction of a new prostitution law…
Perquin was instrumental in developing some of the “reforms” I’ve recently reported, such as raising the legal age of prostitution to 21 and demanding fluency in the Dutch language of the 70% of sex workers who are not Dutch nationals (thus dramatically expanding the illegal hooker underclass and facilitating exploitation). Needless to say, the Amsterdam sex work community wanted to know who this prohibitionist shill really was:
The first cracks in her story begin to show when prostitutes call Metje Blaak, former spokeswoman of the prostitution advocacy organization, De Rode Draad. “Nobody had ever heard of her. They asked me where Patricia worked. They wanted to work where she worked because she made such good money. She had sometimes seven clients in one day, whereas if you do well on the Wallen, you might get four.” There was also suspicion on Hookers.nl…
Of course, the politicians couldn’t be bothered to check up on her; if they had, they might not have been so quick to lionize her. After giving a lengthy radio interview, she was recognized by people who knew her in the past not as a sex worker, but rather as a disgraced journalist named Valerie Lempereur:
Lempereur…has worked in both the Netherlands and Belgium, among others for Nieuwe Revu, Story, TV Family, and Het Laatste Nieuws. Many…well-known people…accuse her of lies and deceit. In the Nineties Lempereur was fired on the spot by crime reporter, Peter R. de Vries, on account of “fraud and deceit, committed more than once,” he wrote in an open letter to Trouw…She was born [in Zeeland] as Daniël…[and] had [gender-reassignment] surgery many years ago…she was addicted…to heroin…for eight years…and…sentenced to prison for several months, for drug theft…[after she] sneaked into hospitals…to steal the goods, dressed as a nurse…A well-known window owner who wants to remain anonymous, says he knew Valérie around 2000 as a prostitute in the Singel area. That contradicts the [claim] that Lempereur began working only five years ago, in all innocence. From the four and half years she [allegedly] worked in the cribs, she also managed for two years a publishing company in Belgium. It’s not clear how she did that with simultaneously working ten thousand clients on the Wallen. Her book also doesn’t say a word about the effect of her transsexuality on her work in the crib…
Though the story has been building since March of last year, it was only broken at last by the newspaper De Volkskrant on March 9th, with the following note:
De Volkskrant has repeatedly asked Valerie Lempereur for a reaction on the veracity of her book and articles. She has neglected our requests. Instead, she applied twice for a temporary injunction to prevent the revelation of her identity. Friday night…the judge decided that De Volkskrant can publish this article.
And a good thing, too; the anti-whore momentum has been building so strongly that a socialist representative named Myrthe Hilkens has even been able to start pushing for the Swedish model. Will the exposure of this fake be able to stop the descent of the Netherlands into prohibitionist madness, or will the busybodies just find a new sock puppet (perhaps they can borrow Justine Reilly from Ruhama?) Only time will tell.
(I wish to express my deep appreciation to regular reader and die-hard sex worker ally Frans van Rossum, who not only called these articles to my attention but also invested a great deal of time and effort in preparing English translations for me. Thank you so very much, Frans!)