Police harassment irks Liege-based African prostitutes

Brussels- Belgium (PANA) -- African prostitutes working in Liege (Belgium) have lodged a complaint against the city's mayor and the Belgian Interior Minister for "police harassment," judicial sources have said in Brussels.
A lawyer for the prostitutes is demanding 2,500 euro (2,500 dollars) for any act of police harassment against the night ladies.
The women are complaining of the almost permanent presence of policemen in front of the store windows where they display themselves to customers.
As a result, they said, customers have been avoiding them in fear of the police, resulting in low turnovers.
Liege's burgomaster Willy Demeyer told journalists that the police kept watch in front of the prostitutes' studios in order to lie in wait for pimps (procurers) who exploit the girls.
According to police reports, a prostitute is obliged to give all her daily income to her pimp who gives her a small percentage as reward.
The pimps said they hang near studios to protect the prostitutes against violent customers.
Many prostitutes are victims of aggressive customers.
Cases of strangling-attempts are not rare after a sexual act.
Other customers simply refuse to pay the prostitute.
In such a case, the prostitute calls her nearby procurer for help.
Prostitutes who display themselves behind store windows are generally legal in Belgium, unlike those who wait for their customers in the streets and who run away as soon as they see the police, as they are illegal immigrants.
According to a police list, African prostitutes based in Liege are from Congo, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
They arrived in Belgium as asylum seekers before getting into prostitution networks.

22 november 2002 13:26:00




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