The Politics of Trafficking: The First International Movement to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Women

By Stephanie A. Limoncelli | Go to book overview

5
International Abolitionist Federation
Reformers and the Dutch Movement

THE MOVEMENT OF DUTCH WOMEN FOR Prostitution was not a particularly salient issue for officials in the Netherlands compared to other countries of the time. It was an emigration country in the late nineteenth century, though small compared to other European countries such as Italy. Dutch emigrants went to neighboring European countries, such as Germany, and then moved increasingly to the United States and later to the Dutch East Indies, South America, and South Africa after 1895.1 Single Dutch women were a growing proportion of this migration, which peaked in the first two decades of the twentieth century, and they, like single men, went increasingly to colonial areas.2 Despite this growth in the numbers of Dutch women emigrants, they were rarely noted as being involved in migratory Prostitution. Neither international voluntary associations nor state officials at the League of Nations found a pattern of Dutch women in Prostitution abroad or in neighboring countries.

The Netherlands was mainly a transit, and to some extent a destination, country for Prostitution. Rotterdam was especially notorious as a transit point. German women were said to be trafficked through the Netherlands to other destinations and to the Netherlands through Poland.3 The League's 1927 trafficking report also noted the interwar presence of Belgian and German women in Prostitution, especially in Rotterdam and the Hague.4 The latter, Dutch officials claimed, caused problems with Dutch women in Prostitution who then alerted authorities to their presence.5

As it had been in so many other imperial countries of the time, women's sexual labor had long been a concern of Dutch state officials in metropolitan and colonial areas and they sought to organize it in various ways. The Indies

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