Loverboys are in the news again in the Netherlands these days, usually in pretty silly media stories. This term is meant to describe men who use ‘love’ to get women to feel attached to them and who then get the women to sell sex and hand over the money: so these are a variant on the pimp. The term is used by academic researchers in the following excerpts to describe one sort of trafficking situation. Some of those described here are women seduced by loverboys, others are sold by their families and some are kidnapped, but the majority have responded to job offers The dossiers mentioned refer to court cases the researchers analysed, who use a framework for analysing business and financial practices – a nice change from the usual personal and emotional focus on ‘the women’.
From Johan Leman and Stef Janssens, European Journal of Criminology, 5 (4): 433–45 (2008):
The Albanian and Post-Soviet Business of Trafficking Women for Prostitution: Structural Developments and Financial Modus Operandi
In several Albanian networks the trafficked women are girls within a loverboy network (18 dossiers) where they were first seduced. In other cases the girls were also bought: in two cases an Albanian girl was sold by her own family and in two dossiers Albanian girls claim to have been kidnapped. But the majority of trafficked women in our 62 cases were recruited through job offers (40 dossiers). This means that the majority of the trafficked women in our files are former potential migrants.
There were constant promises that they would earn a lot of money. For instance, one girl was promised a monthly wage of €3000 for a job as a stripper. In other dossiers, jobs as dancers were offered with promises of wages between €2000 and €6000 per month or daily wages of €450. In a number of cases there was also an explicit mention of prostitution. In a dossier involving a Russian network, a girl who had consciously chosen prostitution made an agreement with her recruiter on departure that she owed €2000 and that she would have to pay this back later through prostitution. Eventually, the woman had to buy her release in Belgium for €5000 or had to work as a prostitute for free for six months, which made her a victim.
Is there any subsequent space for agency? In 40 of the 62 court files there obviously was agency in the mind of the women at the very beginning of their contacts with the trafficking entrepreneurs. They wanted to start a new life as a migrant. In 38 dossiers it is apparent that no real agreements were made about subsequent employment, which is of course a weakness in the plans of the women, who nevertheless decided to embark on their migration project.
What happened later, between their departure and their employment as a sex worker, is not clear from our files. Occasionally the girls were forced to give their money directly to the bar operator or pimp, irrespective of whether or not they were recruited for the job. This situation occurs frequently in closed ethnic networks, as well as in various business networks. Another situation, however, is where women have made agreements with the traffickers but these have not been honoured. This is evident in 22 dossiers, where women became victims in this sense, a situation that one finds largely in the business and international networks.