Speaking in schools in the Netherlands

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One of the things I (Jane Lasonder) really love doing is speaking in schools and for teenage groups in churches and clubs. Teenagers are very vulnerable to the influences around them.

The reason I decided I wanted to speak in schools and universities is because when I was talking with the women who were forced into prostitution and standing behind the windows in Amsterdam, to my horror I saw groups of school children with their teachers walking around, laughing in the faces of the women. From the other side of the windows, I saw the women, looking ashamed and sad. They told me: "We know the pimps and criminals who put us here are bad, hit us and keep us prisoners, but the school kids and teachers who come and laugh and ridicule us hurt our hearts the most." This broke my heart. I even heard one teacher saying: "This is our culture, and the women chose to work here themselves." What a lot of rubbish, what they were really doing was allowing their pupils to laugh and be rude to women who are being forced into prostitution. Kidnapped women who are beaten and raped many times a day for many years, kept isolated in bad conditions. This cannot be right, can it? Children look up to their teachers, and if their teacher tells them it’s okay not to respect the women, it will stay with them for all their lives.

I have also heard stories of school girls that have been approached by pimps and lover boys in the red light district. They asked the school girls which school they went to, and a few days or weeks later the men came and waited outside the school until they saw the girls, and invited them out. Some girls have been tricked by these lover boys and ended up behind the windows. All because the school brought them to look at the women behind the windows.

I told Gert-Jan Segers, a member of the Dutch parliament about my idea to ban the schools from bringing the classes to the red light district. He was really brilliant and agreed with me. He has now sent a letter to many schools telling them of the dangers of human trafficking and forced prostitution, and that they should not bring the children there. They could ask for someone to come and give a presentation on this subject.

Many teenage girls are vulnerable to lover boys, and I want to go around schools and teenage groups to tell them about the dangers. Tell them stories, show them films and photos and give them information that can keep them out of danger. I want them to become aware of what is happening and that it’s not funny to go around the windows and laugh. They need to learn how they can help the women by taking a stand not to treat them with disrespect and by raising money to help rescue these victims. Together we can be strong. So please invite me to your school or group to give information and a presentation, I’d love to come!