Police have shut down a number of brothels in Eindhoven in a large-scale operation against international human trafficking. Police say they have serious indications that human trafficking is rife in the city’s red light district on the Baekeland square. Around 300 police officers and 50 civil servants are involved in the operation.
The prostitutes have been taken to the town hall to be interviewed by special investigators aided by interpreters and social workers. Punters, passers-by and pimps have been asked to show their IDs and whether they have seen any signs of human trafficking. The neighbourhood has been informed about the operation by letter.
Although the prostitutes often say they are working out of their own free will, the Public Prosecution Office says they have information indicating the contrary. It is believed that many are being exploited, offered drugs and under-age prostitutes are coerced into becoming sex workers.
The women are also thought to have to sleep in the same beds where they receive customers, which is against the regulations for prostitution. Most of the prostitutes on the square come from abroad, half of them are from east European countries like Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.
The brothels are also being checked to make sure they meet health and safety and fire regulations and are licenced. The joint operation involved the city council, public prosecution office, regional police, Europol, the
Immigration and Naturalisation Service, public health services and human trafficking expertise centres. It is headed by Mayor of Eindhoven Rob van Gijzel.
Tackling human trafficking has become a top priority in the Netherlands according to the ANP. A year ago, a similar operation was held in The Hague.
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