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, a fine not exceeding 78 thousand euros ($93,600), or both. 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 thousand Aruban florins ($56,000). Authorities effectively prosecuted such crimes.
Safe Home, a knowledge hub and reporting center for domestic abuse with 26 regional branches, was the national platform that worked to prevent domestic violence and support victims. Safe Home ran a national multimedia campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence and to direct survivors to the proper institutions for assistance. The center operated a national 24/7 hotline for persons affected by domestic violence. The government supported the organization Movisie, which assisted domestic and sexual violence survivors, trained police and first-line 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 only women in the Netherlands who are victim of FGM/C are immigrants from countries where the practice is prevalent, according to a 2013 government-funded study. Eighty percent of these women are from Egypt, Somalia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, and Kurdish Iraq. An estimated 40 to 50 girls were at risk of becoming victims each year, but only when they returned to their home countries.
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, which functioned as a FGM/C knowledge hub for aid workers, law enforcement agencies, policy advisors, and others.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The National Expertise Center for Honor-Related Violence, part of the police force in the Netherlands, received 452 reports of honor-related violence in 2015. 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 and was enforced effectively. It requires employers to protect employees against aggression, violence, and sexual intimidation. Complaints against employers who fail 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, which can trigger a police response. In Curacao the law penalizes sexual harassment and it is enforced effectively. The Stichting Slachtofferhulp (Victims Assistance Foundation) assists the victims.
In Sint Maarten there is no central institution to handle 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, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
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: 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 instances of abuse they encounter to authorities, 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. Underage marriages were rare.
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 of the Netherlands continued to implement the 2015-18 National Program against Child Pornography and Child Sex Tourism. The government ran campaigns to encourage travelers to report signals of child sex tourists. A reporting website received 76 notifications in both 2015 and 2016.
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 travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The Jewish population in the Netherlands numbered approximately 30 thousand persons.
In April the NGO Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), the country’s main chronicler of anti-Semitism, reported fewer incidents (109) in 2016 (the most recent available figures) than the year before (126). The most common incidents included vandalism, verbal abuse, and hate emails. Vandalism and physical abuse were major concerns. The most common form of vandalism concerned swastikas scratched or painted on cars, walls, or buildings, in combination with a Star of David or texts such as “Heil Hitler,” specifically directed against Jews or Jewish institutions. Persons who were recognizable as Jewish because of religious attire were targets of direct confrontations.
CIDI called for more specific measures to stop discrimination and anti-Semitic chanting during soccer matches. Police registered 26 incidents in and around the soccer field.
Police registered 335 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, compared with 428 in 2015. A significant percentage of anti-Semitic incidents concerned “shouting.” For example, police officers, in particular, were frequently called “Jew.”
A Ministry of Justice civil servant, who tweeted “ISIS is a premediated plan by Zionists,” was suspended from her position, but was reprieved by a court, which found that she was penalized too severely, as her remarks are considered protected speech.
In 2016 the government-sponsored, editorially independent Registration Center for Internet Discrimination on the Internet (MDI) reported 162 anti-Semitic expressions on the internet. The center noted 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 discrimination on the internet. In consultations with stakeholders, the government also established measures to counter harassing and anti-Semitic chanting during soccer matches. 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 paid special attention to countering anti-Semitism in its national action plan, which emphasizes the role of Jewish and Muslim communities in promoting mutual dialogue.
Government ministers regularly met with the Jewish community to discuss appropriate measures to counter anti-Semitism. The government worked with youth and other NGOs on several projects. This effort included making anti-Semitism a subject of discussion within the Turkish-Dutch community, setting up a help desk, organizing roundtables with teachers on anti-Semitic prejudice and Holocaust denial, holding discussions with social media organizations on countering anti-Semitism among Muslim youth, promoting an interreligious dialogue, and renewing a public information campaign against discrimination and anti-Semitism. The NGO Bridgizz that promotes diversity developed a methodology for schools to support neighborhood networks.
In July Jewish and Muslim organizations signed an agreement with the government and slaughterhouses that fine-tunes a 2012 accord allowing ritual slaughter in an attempt to better articulate each stakeholder’s interest.
In April city workers in Amsterdam removed and relocated a small plaque placed near the entrance to a residential house commemorating a Holocaust victim who had lived there. A couple living in the house sued the city to have the plaque removed altogether saying it placed emotional burden on them and attracted visitors, compromising their right to privacy. After public uproar the couple decided to withdraw the case and explained the plaque reminded them too much of their deceased child but they valued the commemoration of all Holocaust victims.
The Jewish populations in the Dutch Caribbean were small. There were no official or press reports of anti-Semitic acts.
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. Despite continued progress public buildings and public transport were not always easily accessible, lacking access ramps. The law provides criminal penalties for discrimination and administrative sanctions for failure to provide access. Government enforcement of rules governing access was inadequate.
In the Dutch Caribbean, a wide-ranging law prohibiting discrimination does not specifically mention, but 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 in the Dutch Caribbean.
Although discrimination is illegal in Curacao, UN Children’s Fund human rights observers noted that persons with disabilities had to rely on improvised measures to access buildings, parking spots, and 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. In the Netherlands members of minority groups, particularly immigrants and Muslims, experienced verbal abuse and intimidation and were at times denied access to public venues such as discotheques.
In the Netherlands the Muslim community of approximately 900 thousand persons faced frequent discrimination, intolerance, and racism, as did members of other minority/immigrant groups, particularly in public venues and with regard to housing and 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.
Various monitoring bodies reported that the largest number of registered incidents of discrimination in 2016 had to do with a person’s origin, which includes color and ethnicity, with the largest percentage of incidents (45 percent) related to the victim’s skin color. According to the NIHR, discrimination on racial and ethnic grounds occurred in virtually every sphere.
The government of the Netherlands in consultation with stakeholders updated its National Action Plan against Discrimination that includes measures aimed at prevention and raising awareness. The plan encourages victims to report discrimination; seeks to improve registration, investigation, and prosecution of discrimination; enhanced law enforcement; and supports the use of education to counter discrimination. Additionally, police received training on avoiding ethnic or racial profiling.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
In the Netherlands the law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including in such areas as taxes and allowances, pensions, inheritance, and access to health care. The law also prohibits educational institutions operating on a religious or ideological basis from engaging in discrimination on the basis of homosexuality. When courts find acts of violence against LGBTI persons to be motivated by bias, they can provide higher penalties to perpetrators. There were reports of anti-LGBTI violence. For example, on April 1, five individuals on a bridge in Arnhem beat two gay men holding hands. The underage perpetrators were prosecuted. The main national LGBTI organization, COC Netherlands, reported 1,500 incidents of anti-LGBTI violence in 2016 but only nine convictions.
The government increased efforts to counter discrimination against transgender individuals. 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.
Research by the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht found that, of 300 transgender persons, more than 40 percent claimed to face discrimination in the workplace. A quarter said they were fired or not hired because of their orientation. For that reason 20 percent remained silent about their identity.
The 2016-20 National Action Plan to Counter Discrimination outlines specific measures to counter discrimination and homophobic violence. Police had a nationwide network of units dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTI persons. The city of Amsterdam had an information call center for LGBTI persons aimed at increasing safety and acceptance of homosexuality. The Ministry of Security and Justice sponsored a campaign in the LGBTI-oriented media to encourage victims to report incidents and file complaints with police.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
In March 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.
The anti-immigrant Pegida and Identitair Verzet movements regularly staged anti-Muslim protests. On September 2, demonstrators displayed banners at the building site of a new mosque in Venlo with texts such as “No mosque in our neighborhood” and “No Jihad in our street.” On September 4, two demonstrators displayed a banner from the roof of a new Islamic secondary school in Amsterdam saying “those who sow Islam harvest Sharia.”