Hotline receives 24 reports of teenage prostitution in just 6 weeks

A hotline set up at the start of last month to help teenagers forced in to prostitution has received 24 reports of teenagers selling their bodies. A report in Tuesday’s edition of the daily ‘Gazet Van Antwerp’ quotes the not-for-profit group Payoke that staffs the hotline as saying that “By far the most reports come from institutions that believe that believe that one of their girls has become a victim of a pimp”. 

24 reports since 1 January amounts to around 1 report every 2 days. Payoke’s Klaus Vanhoutte told the paper that “We had expected this”

"We knew that there was still a large ‘dark number’ made up of an unknown group of girls that had still not come forward”.  

The hotline was launched with funding from the Flemish Welfare Department. It is aimed at child care workers and teachers that suspect that something is wrong with one of the girls in their care.   

"When we receive a report we go into the field to start talking. We try and ascertain as quickly as possible away to what extent the person can considered to be a victim. That can take two to three weeks because it isn’t simple. However, in 80% of cases the teenager is involved in prostitution”, Mr Vanhoutte said.    

If a teenage is found to be involved in prostitution they are given counselling. If this is not they case the school will or institution will try and find out what is going on.

The vast majority of the victims are in care.

"Girls are recruited from Limburg to West Flanders. Most of them are put to work in Antwerp. It is good to see that the institutions are very alert and have clear got to know about our hotline”, Mr Vanhoutte added.   

Payoke is currently recruiting extra staff to help it deal with the reports it receives via the hotline.