Nationwide network for prostitution exit programmes

Prostitutes will soon be able to obtain help and support throughout the Netherlands if they want to stop being involved in prostitution. This is being made possible through a subsidy provided by Ivo Opstelten, Minister of Security and Justice, for so-called exit programmes for prostitutes. A contribution of €3 million per year will provide for a nationwide network of twelve regions over the coming four years.

This is shown in a letter from Minister Opstelten to the Lower House. The SGP and Christian Union parties had last year expressed their concerns about the availability of exit programmes for prostitutes. In 2008, exit programmes for prostitutes were set up in various municipalities with the help of funding from the State, municipalities and welfare organisations. That did not, however, provide for a nationwide network.

According to Minister Opstelten, municipalities can offer useful support to prostitutes wishing to get out of prostitution. A report from the 2013 regional plan indicates that around 1,750 prostitutes had availed themselves of the help and support offered since the launch of the exit programmes, with over 1,000 of those taking part in the programmes ceasing to be involved in prostitution in the meantime.

Giving up prostitution means changing one’s life and all that this involves. The place of residence and the social network are often strongly linked to working as a prostitute. The taboo that weighs on a prostitute makes it difficult to change the course of one’s life on one’s own. In the search for work, it is difficult to mention one’s old job, for example, and it cannot be included in a CV. In addition, it is often not only a case of providing support in practical matters, such as finding an apartment and work; help is also needed to resolve psychosocial problems, addiction and debts.