« Back to overview

Pimps Discover Zuienkerke


Thousands of sex workers from Asia, Africa and South America are working in places like Zuienkerke, Mol or Zulte - in private homes, next to families and children. All the attention that is being given to terrorism in Belgium is playing into the hands of traffickers, warns Patsy Sorensen. "The fight against illegal prostitution is no longer a priority"



A prostitution insider drew our attention to this phenomenon. The man wants to remain anonymous because he has already received death threats. "The trade in women has never flourished so succcessfully as today," he says. "In the 1990s, you had women from the Eastern Bloc, but nowadays they seem to come from everywhere: Africa, Thailand, Cambodia, South America ... I see hundreds of women from Colombia, Brazil or Venezuela on specialized search sites. I estimate that there are at least a thousand women. Looking at some papers, he explains "Here you have a Cuban who receives men privately in Zuienkerke, somewhere between Bruges and Blankenberge. Or this one, a Brazilian named Mia, who works in Zulte. Here is another, a Russian, who receives men in Kortrijk. The list is endless. '



These ladies are no longer placed in clubs or bars, as was the case before. "No, they are now working in nonchalent terraced houses or villas. Sometimes on their own, sometimes with three or four at the same time. Last week, eight latinas were being received in a typical family house. How did they get in our country, I then wonder. Are they illegal? Or with a temporary visa? It is so well organized." Our source is sure that they are being trafficked. 'How else do they get here? Those women do not speak Dutch. In the past, you also had foreign women, but that was concentrated in Antwerp, Ghent or Brussels. Now they are spread all over the country. It is the pimps organizing that. Or do you really believe that a Brazilian knows where Zuienkerke is? "

"Most of these women have debts, so they dare not run away," says Patsy Sörensen



Criminal gangs make prostitution in this way intrusive to the court. An infamous neighborhood like the Schipperskwartier in Antwerp can still be controlled by the police. However, as soon as prostitutes work 'underground', like in the anonymity of a private home, it becomes much more difficult for the government. "Everything that the women earn is then blackmarket earnings," says our author. "They pay no taxes. So those who pay taxes, like the Belgian girls are getting ripped off. These Colombian and other foreigners work well below the market price. And they really do it all too. And all for half the price!  Apparently there are a lot of men who want to risk a sex disease for such a price. There are no standards and values in this environment. I know a Polish pimp who employs an eight-month pregnant woman at work. A certain kind of men like that. And all 'pure nature'. Disgusting!'



The information given to us by our insider does not surprise Patsy Sörensen. She has been fighting for human trafficking for many years as the founder of Payoke, a relief organization."That women are being dropped in smaller municipalities, we saw this a few years ago," says Patsy. "Thai girls had to work in remote farms, where their pimps had them in their grip. There they could monitor them much better than in a big city. "According to Patsy, these women are often stuck in the grip of traffickers: "Usually, they have huge debts with their trafficker. For example, they have paid thousands of euros for their trip  to Western Europe. Therefore, they dare not to flee. In addition, traffickers have usually forcibly seized their identity papers and passports. Only after years can they buy out. "



In the TV series 'Matroesjka', the gang of Ray Van Mechelen (played by Peter Van den Begin) leaves a trace of destruction. With such excessive violence, of course, you attract the attention of the authorities, and that is what the current traffickers now want to avoid. "Those criminals are going to work more sophisticated," says our insider. "But I'm sure they put 'their' women under pressure. You can also see their ads: those girls must do everything for the tiniest recompense. And often they have to work around the clock all week long. I am also convinced that these foreign pimps have Flemish accomplices. The ads on the internet are stee


« Back to overview

Latest projects


Referral of and assistance for victims of human trafficking in Europe

The Ministry of Interior of Hungary, the Ministry of Security and Justice of The Netherlands and Payoke vzw of Belgium submitted an application „Referral of and assistance for victims of human trafficking in Europe” (hereinafter RAVOT-EUR) for Action Grants under the Programme “Prevention of and Fight against Crime” 2012 ISEC General Call for Proposals of the European Commission.

Read more »

With the support of

Sponsor Payoke?

Click here

Payoke vzw • Leguit 4 • 2000 • Antwerp • Belgium • T +32 (0)3 201 16 90 • F +32 (0)3 233 23 24 •
Open from 09h00 till 17h00