This documentary was recommended by a classmate and it was on the almighty Netflix, so of course I spent an hour of my life watching it this afternoon. I only attached the trailer to this blog post, but I would highly recommend finding time to watch the full documentary. I have no regrets.
“Meet the Fokkens” is about 69-year-old identical twins named Louise and Martine. These twins, however, have spent over 50 years of their lives as prostitutes in Amsterdam’s famous red light district. While Louise has retired since she can no longer “life one leg over the other” due to arthritis, Martine continues to work to support herself economically. While the documentary does give insight into the explicit daily work of the red light district, the sisters bring fun to their story when they reflect on their past experiences in Amsterdam. The two best-friends sit there reminiscing on their past stories and clients of the past from the sex industry. They go to a sex shop, paint many phallic paintings together, and belly laugh with each other about rabbi, priests, and foreigners that have visited them in the past.
This documentary also goes into the stories of how the red light district came to be their home. Martine’s ex-husband was actually the one who forced her into the industry. He threatened to leave her and their children if she did not begin making money, but he didn’t want her working anywhere but the sex industry. He manipulated her and abused her and eventually caused her to turn her back on her own children, which she deeply regrets today. She has immense hate for her past husband and blames him for her life troubles. Martine tells us that if she had the chance to go back in time, she would never have entered the red light district; she would make do with little to no money and hope that her family could help her. She would never wish her children to enter the sex industry.
I think that this documentary helps you see that you don’t have to be picked up off of the street by a pimp or an abductor to be pulled into the sex industry. This poor woman was given no other option for the safety of herself and her kids. The age of the women in the red light district is ridiculously low compared to Martine’s and Louise’s early days in Amsterdam. Girls are being trafficked and sexed up at a much younger age, and society and the male consumers seem to cast a blind eye to this. Abuse is a common thread among those who end up in the sex industry, and Martine is a prime example of this. Yes, she is willingly selling herself on the streets today, but she was not always in control. Young girls and women are forced to succumb to this industry; whether they are tricked into it or not, it is nearly impossible to escape.