Amsterdam, The Netherlands
“We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.”
The city of Amsterdam became world famous for its legalized prostitution and red light district in the year 2000. Over 400 windows line the district streets, with a woman on display behind each one. It has been estimated that over 75% of the city’s 8,000-11,000 women in prostitution are from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. Many are victims of trafficking; others were lured in at a young age by pimps, called loverboys, through an intentional scheme that moves them in to prostitution. Many remain out of fear for their own safety or that of loved ones, or victim of sizeable debts they must repay to a pimp. Those who want to leave struggle to find options that will enable them to escape safely and empower them to support themselves in an alternative line of work.
In 1987, Tot Heil des Volks launched Scarlet Cord, an outreach program for women in prostitution. Aimed at relationship building, Scarlet Cord includes a staff of fully trained social workers available to them for a variety of needs including counseling, financial assistance, safe-housing, and job assistance.
In addition, Scarlet Cord addresses the issue of prostitution through a prevention program aimed at high risk teen girls aged 12-15. The program has been accepted into over 30 secondary schools throughout Holland to raise awareness of the methods and dangers of loverboys. Through an interactive workshop that fosters discussion and exercises aimed at warning signs, activities also promote self-esteem, self-respect, and the dynamics of a healthy relationship. In a current climate where the majority of teens in Amsterdam are sexually active prior to the age when they have their first kiss, the prevention program offers an alternative to young girls immersed in a cultural norm that leaves them unaware of both other options, and the psychological and physical harm associated with these high-risk behaviors.
Wellspring International aims to provide $15,000 USD toward the outreach program and $10,000 USD toward the prevention program for a total grant this year of $25,000 USD.
Please contact us for more information concerning this significant project.