Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law in all parts of the kingdom criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. The penalty is imprisonment not exceeding 12 years or a fine not exceeding 83,000 euros ($95,000). In case of violence against a spouse, the penalty for various forms of abuse can be increased by one-third. In Aruba the penalty is imprisonment not exceeding 12 years or a fine of 100,000 Aruban florins ($56,000). Authorities effectively prosecuted such crimes.
On July 21, a man committed a violent rape on a 20-year-old Indonesian exchange student on a street in Rotterdam. The woman was seriously injured. Police arrested a suspect three days later and he remained in custody. Hundreds of people participated in a silent march in the community where the victim lived, protesting sexual violence and intimidation.
The government continued funding for Safe Home, a knowledge hub and reporting center for domestic abuse with 26 regional branches, as the national platform to prevent domestic violence and support victims. The center operated a national 24/7 hotline for persons affected by domestic violence. The government supported the organization Movisie, which assisted survivors of domestic and sexual violence, trained police and first responders, and maintained a website on preventing domestic violence.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): In the kingdom, the law prohibits FGM/C for women and girls; the maximum penalty for FGM/C is 12 years in prison.
The Royal Dutch Medical Association has recommendations for doctors on how to report FGM/C cases to Safe Home and how to provide care to the victim. The Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport continued funding for the Pharos Center of Expertise on Health for Migrants and Refugees to run a project to prevent and counter FGM/C. Pharos also operated Focal Point, a FGM/C knowledge hub for aid workers, law enforcement agencies, policy advisors, and others.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Honor-related violence is treated as regular violence for the purposes of prosecution and does not constitute a separate offense category. Laws against violence were enforced effectively in honor-related violence cases, and victims were permitted to enter a specialized shelter.
Sexual Harassment: The law penalizes acts of sexual harassment throughout the kingdom and was enforced effectively. The penalty is imprisonment not exceeding eight years or a fine not exceeding 83,000 euros ($95,000). It requires employers to protect employees against aggression, violence, and sexual intimidation. In the Netherlands complaints against employers who failed to provide sufficient protection could be submitted to the NIHR. Victims of sexual assault or rape in the workplace can report the incidents to police as criminal offenses. In Curacao the Stichting Slachtofferhulp (Victims Assistance Foundation) assists the victims.
In Sint Maarten no central institution handles sexual harassment cases. According to the law, substantive civil servant law integrity counselors must be appointed for each ministry. These integrity counselors advise the civil servants on integrity issues. It is up to the responsible minister to act on the complaint.
Aruban law states the employer shall ensure the employee is not sexually harassed in the workplace. Employers are required to keep the workplace free from harassment by introducing policies and enforcing them. Sint Maarten and Curacao also have laws prohibiting stalking.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: Under the law, women throughout the kingdom have the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. There were reports of discrimination in employment.
Birth Registration: Citizenship can be derived from either the mother or the father. Births are registered promptly.
Child Abuse: There are laws against child abuse. The penalties depend on the details and context of the case, and can range up to 12 years in prison. A multidisciplinary task force in the Netherlands acts as a knowledge hub and facilitates interagency cooperation in combatting child abuse and sexual violence. The children’s ombudsman headed an independent bureau that safeguarded children’s rights and called attention to abuse. Physicians are required to report child abuse to authorities.
Aruba has a child abuse-reporting center. In Curacao physicians are not required to report to authorities instances of abuse they encounter, but hospital officials reported indications of child abuse to authorities. In Sint Maarten, the penal code addresses serious offenses against public morality, abandonment of dependent persons, serious offenses against human life, and assault that apply to child abuse cases.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18 in all parts of the kingdom. In the Netherlands and Aruba, there are two exceptions: if the persons concerned are older than 16 and the girl is pregnant or has given birth, or if the minister of security and justice in the Netherlands or the minister of justice in Aruba grants a dispensation based on the parties’ request.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Throughout the kingdom, the law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children as well as production, possession, and distribution of child pornography, and authorities enforced the law. The minimum age of consent is 16 in the Netherlands, Curacao, and Aruba and 15 in Sint Maarten. The Netherlands is a source country of child sex tourists. The government ran campaigns to encourage travelers to report suspicions of child sex tourism. A Dutch offender can be tried in the Netherlands even if the offense takes place abroad.
International Child Abductions: The kingdom is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.
The Jewish population in the Netherlands is approximately 30,000 persons.
In April the NGO Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), the country’s main chronicler of anti-Semitism, reported approximately as many incidents (113) in 2017 (the most recent available figures) as in 2016 (109). Common incidents included vandalism, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and hate emails. The most common form of vandalism was swastikas scratched or painted on cars, walls, or buildings, sometimes in combination with a Star of David or texts such as “Heil Hitler.” People recognized as Jewish because of their religious attire were targets of direct confrontations. A significant percentage of anti-Semitic incidents concerned calling somebody a “Jew” as a common derogatory term. CIDI reported half a dozen anti-Semitic statements by politicians by the pro-Muslim DENK party and the local Hague Unity Party in particular. In May CIDI filed a complaint with the police against a tweet by Hague Unity Party council member Arnoud van Doorn saying, “May Allah destroy the Zionists.”
In December 2017 a Palestinian refugee from Syria smashed the windows of an Israeli restaurant in Amsterdam and stole an Israeli flag. The perpetrator, diagnosed with post-traumatic syndrome disorder, was convicted on July 12 for vandalism and theft. He was sentenced to six week’s imprisonment and ordered to receive treatment for his mental condition.
The bulk of anti-Semitic expressions reviewed by the prosecutor’s office National Expertise Center for Discrimination in 2017 related to anti-Semitic statements and chants by soccer fans, mostly about the Amsterdam soccer team AJAX, whose fans and players are nicknamed “Jews.”
In 2017 the government-sponsored but editorially independent Registration Center for Internet Discrimination on the Internet reported 236 anti-Semitic expressions on the internet. The center maintained that criticism of Israel’s policies and appeals to boycott the country readily turned into anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, and expressions of wishing Jews dead.
The government entered into agreements with major social media networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to counter offensive language on the internet, including anti-Semitic statements. The government also established measures to counter harassing and anti-Semitic chanting during soccer matches in consultations with stakeholders. The Anne Frank Foundation managed government-sponsored projects, such as the “Fan Coach” project to counter anti-Semitic chanting and the “Fair Play” project to promote discussion on discrimination.
The government of the Netherlands assisted local projects to combat anti-Semitism by providing information and encouraging exchange of best practices among key figures from the Jewish and Muslim communities.
Government ministers regularly met with the Jewish community to discuss appropriate measures to counter anti-Semitism. Government efforts included making anti-Semitism a subject of discussion within the Turkish-Dutch community, setting up a help desk, organizing roundtables with teachers, reaching out to social media groups, promoting an interreligious dialogue, and a public information campaign against discrimination and anti-Semitism.
The Jewish populations in the Dutch Caribbean were small. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts there.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
Laws throughout the kingdom ban discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. In the Netherlands the law requires equal access to employment, education, transportation, housing, and goods and services. It requires that persons with disabilities have access to public buildings, information, and communications, and it prohibits making a distinction in supplying goods and services. The law provides criminal penalties for discrimination and administrative sanctions for failure to provide access. Government enforcement of rules governing access was inadequate. Despite continued progress, public buildings and public transport were not always easily accessible, lacking access ramps.
The NIHR acts as supervisor of the country’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2017 it ruled on 124 cases (30 percent of total number of cases) in which plaintiffs requested an opinion on alleged discrimination on grounds of disability.
In the Dutch Caribbean, a wide-ranging law prohibiting discrimination was applied to persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, health care, transportation, and the provision of other government services. Some public buildings and public transport were not easily accessible to persons with physical disabilities.
Human rights observers from UNICEF noted that in Curacao persons with disabilities had to rely on improvised measures to access buildings, and parking areas, and to obtain information.
Not all schools in Sint Maarten were equipped for children with a range of physical disabilities, but the government reported that all children with physical disabilities had access to public and subsidized schools.
The laws of the kingdom’s constituent territories prohibit racial, national, or ethnic discrimination.
Various monitoring bodies in the Netherlands reported that the largest percentage (41 percent in police statistics) of registered incidents of discrimination in 2017 had to do with a person’s origin, which includes color and ethnicity. According to the NIHR, discrimination on racial and ethnic grounds occurred in virtually every sphere.
There were reports of discrimination against minorities with regard to employment. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the minority unemployment rate during the year was approximately twice that of the native Dutch workforce, while the unemployment rate among minority youths was almost three times as high as among native Dutch youth.
Police received training on avoiding ethnic or racial profiling, and the government put into place more effective procedures to process reports of discrimination and assist victims.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
In the Netherlands the law prohibits discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons (LGBTI) in housing, employment, nationality laws, and access to government services such as health care. The government generally enforced those laws.
On July 3, the parliament adopted legislation that explicitly prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex characteristics, gender identity, and gender expression. The law previously only prohibited discrimination on grounds of gender and sexual orientation.
Dutch law allows for higher penalties for violence motivated by anti-LGBTI bias. There were hundreds of reports of anti-LGBTI violence. On March 9, two men were convicted for attempted manslaughter and severe mistreatment of two gay men in Amsterdam and sentenced to 40 and 28 months imprisonment respectively. On August 15, a third person was convicted for the same offense and sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment.
The main national LGBTI organization, COC Netherlands, reported an increase of incidents of anti-LGBTI violence during the year but stated this could have been due to a greater willingness among LGBTI persons to report such incidents.
The Transgender Network Netherlands (TNN) worked with authorities and NGOs to advance the rights of transgender persons and to combat discrimination. The TNN specifically promoted an action plan to increase labor participation of transgender persons.
Police had a nationwide network of units dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTI persons. The city of Amsterdam’s informational call center dedicated to addressing LGBTI issues aimed at increasing safety and acceptance of homosexuality. The Ministry of Security and Justice sponsored a campaign in LGBTI-oriented media to encourage victims to report incidents and file complaints with police. Education Minister Van Engelshoven tightened adherence to the mandatory curriculum to promote respect for sexual diversity.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
In the Netherlands the Muslim community of approximately 900,000 persons faced frequent physical and verbal attacks, acts of vandalism, discrimination, and racism, as did members of other minority and immigrant groups.
On January 8, a local PVV politician said in a radio interview about a mosque in Utrecht, “We prefer if it was burned down. We are truly against mosques. We do not recognize Islam as a religion. It is an ideology.”
In March 2017 the Third Monitor on Muslim Discrimination, a report by Ineke van der Valk of the University of Amsterdam, reported 72 incidents of acts of aggression against mosques in 2016, the highest number since monitoring started in 2005.