A small step into history
Restrictions for refugees
Developments since the Schengen Agreement
Illegalisation of refugees
New developments
Strategies of survival
Access to labour market
Illegalized Women
General resistance
Aliens Act 1994
A pet Turk
Gaining momentum
Relief work

In the last decade the Netherlands has been confronted with a problem that so far seemed to be considered an American-Mexican phenomenon: 'illegal' migrants and illegalization of refugees and other migrants. However, the phenomenon in itself is not new. What is new is the scale of illegalization and the reaction to it in society. [back to top]

A small step into history
Illegal migrants have been present in Dutch society for a long time. The first larger group of illegalized migrants became known during the sixties. In the decade before and during the sixties, a lot of labour migrants were invited to come to the Netherlands. They were invited to do work that Dutch people did not want to do: heavy labour in industrial and agricultural companies, necessary to build up the country again after the devastating World War II. In most cases it was unskilled labour. Educated people were not hired at the special offices that were opened in Turkey and Morocco. The labourers were not expected to stay in the Netherlands for the rest of their lives; they were called 'gastarbeider': 'guest labourers'. During the fifties they were housed in camps at the compounds of the factory they were working for. In the sixties it became clear that they were not planning to leave; more and more relatives migrated to the Netherlands in programs of family reunification. The growing awareness that they were here to stay led to the first restrictions in migration policy. Maybe it is better to speak of the construction of a migration policy: in the fifties there was no real policy. People were invited to come because they were needed as labourers, or for historical reasons (for example, Moluccans who were temporarily housed in W.W.II concentration camps, waiting for the promised independence of the Moluccas that never came).
At the end of the sixties it became quite clear that these migrants would not leave again. Laws were changed to make labour migration and family reunification more difficult. It only led to a shift in legal grounds on which one could obtain a permit to stay: the number of people applying for asylum started to rise slowly. Until then there was no need to ask for asylum if one was politically persecuted in the country of origin, because it was relatively easy to obtain a labour permit. The more restricted rules led to a growth in the number of people that came on a tourist visum and decided never to leave again. They found work, they were reunited illegally with their families. During the seventies there were smaller groups that were legalized after some years in Dutch society. A large group of migrants came after the independence of Surinam, a former Dutch colony. Surinamese got the chance to obtain Dutch nationality. Nowadays there are as many Surinamese in the Netherlands as there are in Surinam. [back to top]

Restrictions for refugees
A first major change in migration policy took place at the beginning of the eighties. It became official government policy that the Netherlands was not a country of immigration. From the start this was contrary to daily practice. The economic crisis at the end of the seventies was certainly due to this change in policy. However, in the same period larger groups of illegalized migrants were legalized. This stopped at the end of the eighties, when a more and more restrictive policy was introduced.
The growing number of people asking for asylum aroused concern in political circles. It was clear that the number of refugees was growing, not only because of conflicts arising from the end of the Cold War (which had been very warm in the South), but also because of growing mobility: it was simply easier to get to the West. The first thing that happened was to change the central reception of refugees. The reason for that was the growing number of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka. Instead of housing them in ordinary houses, they were put in special camps with a 'bed, bread and water' reception only. The violent protests of Tamils against this (during planned actions they burned down some of the camps they were staying in) shocked Dutch society. A completely new system of reception was constructed. The new reception aimed at discouraging the refugees that were already here, in the hope they would warn fellow-country(wo)men not to come to the Netherlands. Even today it is usual to stay in a camp for three or four years, waiting for a decision on an asylum request, with nothing to do but watch TV or play table tennis. More and more refugees decided not to wait for the decision and tried to find their own way in society by working. New legislation since the end of the eighties only aimed at diminishing the possibilities of surviving in society. The introduction of a social-fiscal number in 1991 was meant to shut migrants without papers out of legal ways to make a living. This sofi-number was followed by other legal measures to make life miserable for migrants: identification obligations, more street controls and control at work, linking of databases to trace 'illegals' and new laws in order to keep migrants out. The measures were generally accepted as 'necessary to fight migration'. In spite of all these measures, the number of people applying for asylum still grew - up to 50,000 last year. [back to top]

Developments since the Schengen Agreement
When the number of refugees started rising at the beginning of the eighties, there was already a slight restriction in the migration policy. The real change, however, came after 1985, due to the Schengen Agreement. The possibilities created by this agreement led to some political panic in the Netherlands. There was a fear of other Europeans coming to the Netherlands to 'profit from social services and benefits', but above all there was the fear that the number of migrants would rise as soon as the internal borders disappeared. In 1989 a special commission was created to investigate what measures could be taken for more effective control over 'aliens' when border controls were abolished. The commission came to its conclusions in 1991. It advised, amongst other things:
- to carry out controls in a more administrative way, in those institutions implementing social security regulations;
- to introduce a 'restricted form' of identification requirements;
- to introduce new legislation to exclude illegalized migrants from the social security system;
- more active control behind the borders, especially in bigger cities, and therefore more man-power for the aliens police and military police.
This last task resulted in the formation of the MTV (Mobiel Toezicht Vreemdelingen - Mobile Surveillance on Aliens). 1,200 new jobs were created to conduct checks, together with the 1,000 police officers already working at Schiphol Airport and at the borders, on anyone entering the Netherlands. In 1998, another 200 police officers were added, and since then sea and river harbours are also controlled. The emphasis, however, remains on border controls on railways, highways and roads from Germany and Belgium into the Netherlands. In 1996, according to official statistics, almost 800,000 people were checked; 26,000 'illegalised' were arrested or sent back. The static control at the borders, that had to disappear due to the Schengen Agreements, has so been replaced by flexible control behind the borders.The selection of cars that are stopped behind the borders is first of all made according to the colour of the people inside them, but also numberplates and the amount of luggage are used as criteria. The MTV-teams are usually formed by two motor drivers, two small buses and a transporter equipped with a computer terminal and generator. Officers in civil cars also are part of the controls on the highways. Cars that are selected are directed towards parking places beside the highways, where the transporter with the computer is waiting. The majority of those who are undocumented will be deported straight back to Germany or Belgium, some of them after being fined for 'illegal trespassing'.
Controlling migrants in a more administrative way required good administration, something that the government had been working on since the beginning of the eighties. There were two important administrative developments. The first was the computerisation of the register of population into the 'Municipal Base Administration Personal Data' ('GBA'), the second was the computerisation of the registers of the aliens police into the 'Aliens Administration System' ('VAS'). In 1991 it was decided to link up the two systems. It would take three years to make the link operational.
A third very important development was that the Dutch 'social- fiscal number' (sofi-number, a social security number) was used more and more as a general identity number in all kinds of registers. Until November 1th 1991, it was possible to obtain the sofi-number by simply proving identity at the tax-collector's office with a passport. The sofi-number made it possible to find legal work. Legal work made it possible to pay taxes and social security contributions. In that way illegalised migrants could live an almost legal life. The fact that they paid taxes and contributions made it possible for them to collect unemployment benefits, children's allowance, etc. In November 1991, it became impossible to obtain a number without the permission of the foreign police. This meant the first actual restriction of access to the formal labour market for illegalized migrants. The second restriction followed in 1992, after a plane crash in a densely populated area in Amsterdam. The local authorities were convinced that many illegalized migrants were living in the apartment blocks that were destroyed at the crash, they feared over 200 people dead. From that moment on, it was also impossible to register at the local register of population without permission of the aliens police. Other cities decided to do the same. This measure made it almost impossible to become registered, and therefore meant restricted access, for example, to the cheaper part of the housing market, where it is absolutely necessary to be registered.
In 1994 an Identification Law came into force. The law introduced identification requirements in 25 different other laws (for example fiscal and social security laws). Moreover, the law deternined what kind of identification papers were legally accepted. The law practically aimed at restricting illegal labour and denying 'new' illegalized migrants access to social security. Psychologically it was meant to prepare the Dutch for other laws to come.
A person of Surinamese origin is stopped by police in the street, maybe for crossing a red light on his bike or maybe for no reason at all. The person does not have his/her passport with him/her, gives his/her name, and says that he/she has a Dutch nationality. The police - doubting if the person is indeed Dutch - checks the name in the VAS, which contains the data of all registered and known foreigners. However, the person is not registered. In the view of the police officer there are two possibilities: either the person really is Dutch, or illegal. To make sure of the true identity of the person, the police can arrest him or her. That person can be placed in detention for two days just for identification purposes (checking fingerprints etc.). If the identity has not been ascertained after this, or if there is still uncertainty as to the legal status of the person, longer detention is possible - up to ten days in a police cell.
In the same year, a new Aliens Act came into power and the link between GBA and VAS was now operative. Now that the administrative conditions were fulfilled, the way was paved for what the government would later refer to as the keystone of a restrictive migration policy: the Linking Act. The Linking Act, which came into force in 1998, is a law that excludes illegalized migrants (and in the future possibly also legal migrants) almost completely from social security. In the first draft of the law it was proposed to exclude all migrants without a so-called 'perfect residence permit', which would have meant the majority of all refugees that came to the Netherlands over the last 5 years, and other legal migrants in some kind of legal procedure waiting for a final decision. After a lot of protest, the draft was changed. The law that came into force on July 1st 1998 excludes migrants without any residence permit, and divides the others into about 18 categories: depending on their kind of permit, they will have no access, some access or ordinary access to social security provisions. The Linking Act (which links access to social security to the residence permits of the applicant) is being executed by all kind of civil servants, local authorities, schools, health insurance companies etc. All insitutions have to consult the GAB/VAS regularly to check the status of applicants and clients. Changes in status are automatically exchanged. Alltogether, a system has been constructed that could be referred to as an administrative apartheid system. [back to top]

Illegalisation of refugees
A considerable number of illegalised migrants is formed by the group of refugees outside the legal procedures. They had no access to the asylum procedure (safe country of origin, undocumented, 'asylum shopping','wafer-thin asylum story' etc.) or they were not recognised as refugees and were not admitted on humanitarian grounds. Over the years 1990 - 1997, 20% of asylum requests resulted in refugee status, 30% in a permit on humanitarian grounds and 45% in an order to leave the country. Over the years 1994/1995, 3,000 refugees were actually deported annually (under escort by border police); 2,000 have left 'under supervision' (which means they have been dropped at a train station near the border with a ticket to Belgium or Germany - no one checks if they really get on the train); 9,000 were not found when the foreign police checked the address they were staying at. In the official policy towards rejected refugees the starting point is that the refugee him/herself is responsible for his/her return: they came by themselves and can leave by themselves. There is a special program in which specific groups of rejected refugees can get help from the IOM to return, but hardly any of them use the program. Those rejected are expected to cooperate in their 'return'. Those who refuse to cooperate are - if not detained - dumped in the street with the order to leave the country within 48 hours. This means that refugees who refuse to cooperate in their own return are completely excluded from all forms of reception in the Netherlands. Most refugees do not wait to be dumped or deported: they go into hiding. They do not report to the foreign police any more and usually leave the house or reception centre they were living in. In 60% of the cases in which the foreign police visit addresses to take refugees away for deportations the refugees have already left. In the official figures they are counted as 'expelled', but it is very likely that they are still in the Netherlands. The number of refugees being 'expelled' in this way is growing rapidly. A smaller group of refugees who have been illegalised by the government is the group that can not be deported for 'technical' or 'policy-related' reasons: refugees from countries with no central administration, from countries that refuse to take back their natives, or from countries with no administrative ties to the Netherlands (e.g. China, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Angola and stateless Palestinians). 6% of all refugees rejected for those reasons cannot be expelled and will finally be dumped in the street. [back to top]

New developments
Apart from the arrival of migrants asking for asylum, there is a relatively new development in migration. More and more migrants do not apply for asylum anymore; they succeed in entering without being registered. Another group that is growing rapidly in number is the group that is deliberately illegalized by the government. It consists of refugees at the end of their legal procedure who are expelled from the central reception centres and are ordered to leave the Netherlands within 48 hours. Most can't leave and are forced into illegality. A research project by the University of Utrecht published in 1998 estimated the number of illegalized migrants at around 40,000. This university has been doing research into the illegalized population for some years now. Earlier they did research into parts of the labour and housing market and the access of public services for illegalized migrants. The number of 40,000 was the result of an investigation by the university into the relationship between (specific forms of) crime and illegality. It was the first scientific research into the number of illegalized migrants. The method used is the same method that scientists use to count the number of deer in a forest; in this case, all the basic figures came from police records on the years 1995 and 1996. The number of 40,000 is far less than the government estimation of over 100,000. Of course, the number of 40,000 will have risen by now. [back to top]

Strategies of survival
The Linking Act, together with the implementation of computerised personal data registrations, has sealed off most forms of formal strategies to survive for illegalised migrants. Those forms were already restricted by other measures - especially the introduction of the status check when applying for a sofinumber - but even now there are illegalized migrants who can survive in formal structures. However, those structures have lost their legal character. The Linking Act does not make an end to the twilight zone between legal and illegal structures, but other laws - such as the identification requirements - try to do so. The Linking Act put an end to the phenomenon that illegalized migrants could live a 'legal life'. The law therefore had unexpected opponents. One of them was the Amsterdam police: they feared that relatively open and transparent migrant communities would seclude themselves from society and that illegalized migrants would be forced into complete illegality - neither open nor transparent. In the grey area between completely legal and completely illegal a lot is still possible, in spite of attempts by the government to make the distinction between legal and illegal complete.
It is, for example, still possible to 'lend' your sofinumber to someone else; it is possible to obtain valid documents, but prices have risen; there are still employers that don't ask for identification papers - the biggest right-wing newspaper in the Netherlands, 'de Telegraaf', could not be distributed if there were no illegalized migrants willing to do so early in the morning. However, those forms of survival cannot be referred to as 'formal'. Formal strategies, leaving aside some exceptions, are history.
Undocumented migrants are definitely placed outside the formal legal structures. They form a mobile and heterogeneous group of migrants with an inferior status, because they are classified as illegal and therefore are excluded from the formal labour market and the welfare state. They can't fully base their existance on the sale of their labour and can't call for the social rights that the welfare state offers. At the same time, their illegal status leads to an inferior position within their own ethnic community. As a result, they also have a very marginal position on the matrimonial and (informal and illegal) labour market. In those two components we could define their position as different from the 'underclass': their illegal status and precapitalist labour market position.
A third characteristic is the social and psychological effects that come from the legal labeling process. Illegal status is a 'master status', that overshadows all other social characteristics. It is an invisible status that migrants try to hide from others that could exploit this information. Illegality as master status has very important consequences for the way they construct their lives. They have to tell lies in specific circumstances, have to learn how to move in public places and learn how to behave towards officials and authorities.
Some illegalized migrants use the only formal strategies left to survive: they try to get legalized by getting involved in lawsuits against the rejection of their application. Only nationals from countries that signed the European Treaty concerning social and medical protection (for example Turkey) have the same rights as Dutch people. For those that applied for asylum, some kind of state reception is offered, but provisions are becoming worse and worse and a growing number of asylum applicants is denied (longer) access to reception.
That means that illegalized migrants are nowadays completely at the mercy of informal structures in order to survive. Four main strategies can be followed:

Criminal activities
One strategy is to resort to criminal activities. Research has shown that the idea that illegalized migrants are almost forced into criminality is untrue. According to police records in Rotterdam, the great majority of illegalized migrants (84%) arrested during 1995 was not involved in any criminal act. The same records, however, show striking differences: illegalized Turkish migrants are hardly involved in small or serious offences (0% in Rotterdam, 1995) or drugs related offences (1%). For Moroccans the percentages were 37% and 28%, for Algerians almost the same. The differences can partially be explained by priorities in policy by local police and local foreign police.
The emphasis is mostly on fighting illegalized immigrants who cause inconvenience or show criminal behaviour. However, it does not explain the systematic differences between ethnic groups in trouble with the police. This can only be explained by differences in chances that people have: the level of access to formal structures, the level of access to informal structures and the level of access to criminal circles. For some illegalized migrants,criminality (especially drugs trafficking) is the area that can offer them the financial means they need for their stay in the Netherlands. Most of those migrants work as drug runners - one of the riskiest activities within the drug scene concerning chances of arrest.

The use of social capital
Illegalized migrants depend more and more on support by members of their own ethnic community, not only for their migration, but also for housing, food, health services, etc. The most important strategy of survival is an optimum utilization of the support potential that a certain ethnic community has to offer. There are differences in the extent to which migrant communities are able and prepared to give support to illegalized migrants. The less illegalized migrants are imbedded in the community, the more they are at risk. This partially explains the higher participation of illegalized Moroccans in criminal circles.

Manipulation of one's own identity
Making one's own identity invisible by destruction of identity papers or by using a false identity is an important strategy for staying in the Netherlands. Denying one's own identity is important, because the awareness of one's illegal status can be exploited by employers or landlords. Workers without residence permits are paid less. A better strategy is to obtain somebody elses documents (health insurance card, social fiscal number, passport), or to get professionally made false papers. The circuit that produces these papers has become very important to illegalized migrants.
The number of migrants arrested because of false documents has been rising quickly. The importance of making it impossible to be identified becomes clear from the paradox within the expulsion policy: more illegalized immigrants arrested for criminal offences manage to stay in the Netherlands than those who committed no crimes.

Using public places
Another strategy is learning to live as an 'illegal alien'. Most important aspect: reducing the risk of being arrested in public. In the Netherlands this explains the geographical concentration of illegalized migrants. They live near to specific groups (family, fellow countrymen) or institutions that offer some protection (churches, support groups). They hardly travel. This strategy leads to forms of social protection from society. Many illegalized migrants have created systems of controlled information in order to avoid unwanted contact to others.
Those illegalized migrants that have no access to the formal labour market survive in the Netherlands by using (a combination of) strategies as mentioned above. However, not every migrant has equal chances of having one of those strategies. Illegalized migrants from outside Europe who can join a more or less established migrant community have an advantage over new groups of migrants, consisting mostly of (rejected) refugees. [back to top]

Access to labour market
For many illegalized migrants, wage labour is the main source of income, apart from financial contributions by family members or people of the same social group. The last groups are mainly organized on national or religious grounds. Within these migrant communities, possibilities are sometimes offered for work. An example of this is the Ghanaian community in Amsterdam. Most of them live in Amsterdam South East. About 5,000 of them are living with a residence permit. Estimations by police suggest a number of 5,000 Ghanaians without residence permits in the same area. The overall community is well-organized through churches, shops and markets. Over decades a parallel economy has grown, in which a lot of illegalized nationals have found jobs. The community is very closed, difficult to approach and isolated from other migrant communities. Another example can be found within the Turkish community. A lot of Turkish migrants that came in the sixties and seventies found jobs in the garment industry, jobs most of them had already had in Turkey. What happened to the garment industry in Amsterdam is a good example of connections between formal and informal structures.

Garment industry
The garment industry has a long history in the Netherlands, going back to the Industrial Revolution that reached the country in the second part of the 19th century. From the start, the garment industry was concentrated in the east, around Enschede, and the west, in Amsterdam. During the twentieth century this industry almost disappeared in the Netherlands, but kept a firm base in Amsterdam in very small garment factories. At the end of the eighties there were about 900 small 'factories' were still running. In those 'sweat shops' many illegalized migrants, especially Turks, were working, heavily underpaid and in very bad labour conditions. At the beginning of the nineties the local government decided to start a campaign against those 'illegal garment factories'. Special 'intervention teams' (police, aliens police, tax offices, social welfare offices) were formed and started raiding the garment factories. The raids were flanked by new legislation that made heavier fines possible, not only for employers but also for the actual customer. The consequences of the ongoing raids were dramatic: within a few years most of the illegal garment factories were dismantled. Some 250 legal factories were therefore cut off from supplies and orders. The town council asked the authorities to slow down the raids in vain. The garment production was partially transferred to Turkey, Poland and Bulgaria. Customers made very complicated legal arrangements to avoid fines. Within a couple of years a complete industrial sector almost disappeared from Amsterdam. What is left now is still partially based on 'illegal' activities; customers are out of legal reach due to legal constructions and the fact that the time between the orders and the delivery of the manufactured goods has become extremely short. In the meantime, labour conditions in the industry have become even worse and more flexible; most of the illegalized migrants that were arrested during raids and deported came back within a few weeks. Some of them picked up their old - 'illegal' - profession, but found that their wages had fallen. During the last year parts of the industry are again beginning to rise in Amsterdam, because customers want production to be close by. Besides the garment industry, there are some specific areas in which illegalized migrants have been easily employed so far, all out of economic interest and a very one-sided supply of labourers on the Dutch labour market.

Cleaning sector
One of the first sector areas confronted with a 'clean sweep' was the cleaning sector. Cleaners were in general accused of employing many illegalised migrants, 'black' payments and tax evasion. This industrial sector had such a negative image that, at a certain point, the branch itself took action to make the image more positive. Years of strict police control were followed by years of hard self-control. The sector managed to improve its image, but it has become almost impossible for illegalized migrants to be employed there any longer.

Another economic area known for employing illegalized migrants is a specific part of agriculture: the horticulture in glasshouses. It differs from the garment industry and cleaning business because it is of great importance to Dutch exports. It is concentrated in the 'Westland', roughly the area between Den Haag and Amsterdam. Work in the glasshouses is unskilled and hard. The main economic activity in the west of the Netherlands - and therefore the supply and demand of labour - is the service sector, which requires highly skilled labourers.
However, there is a large pool of labourers available in this part of the country: illegalized immigrants. A part of the employers in the Westland had no other opportunity than to employ illegalized migrants. There are numerous examples of employers who were actively involved in attempts to legalize their illegalized employees because of the interest they had in keeping those employees at work.
There are numerous examples of employers who paid their illegalized employees the same as their legal employees. But there are also examples of employers that exploited illegalized migrants in a shameless way. There are examples of employers that tipped off the police that in such-and-such a company (of course their own) illegalized migrants were working, so that the police raided the company just before pay-day. After the raid the employer hired new illegalized migrants for the job. Fines are so small that it can be worthwhile to do this a couple of times.In this branch of the economy there has been no coordinated police activity as there has been against the garment industry. An explanation for that lies in the economic importance of the branch. However, over the last two years there have beencattempts to exclude illegalized immigrants from this section of economic activity as well.
On the one hand this is done by making it possible for migrants from outside the EU to work as seasonal workers. The eyes of policy makers in this field are directed to the east, especially nationals from countries that are about to become EU-members and are prepared to work for far more lower wages under special circumstances concerning social security provisions. On the other hand there are more and more policy makers that defend the idea of employing refugees in the asylum procedure. At this moment they are not allowed to work, a fact that leads to very tense situations within the reception centres. It is clear that the government is looking for ways of making it impossible for illegalized migrants to work in this branch, without damaging the sector itself too much.

Hotel, restaurant and catering industry
In this field we can see the same situation as in the garment industry until the nineties. Since the identification requirements at work were imposed, we can see a growing pressure on employers in this sector as well. It should be kept in mind that the phenomenon of illegal labour in hotels etc. is greater than the group of illegalized migrants: in general this is a branch with a lot of 'black work' done by students and people who are in need of extra money. It has often been said as a kind of joke, that if local authorities or tax offices decided to raid this sector as they did the garment branch, it would soon be impossible to have dinner in a restaurant because most of them would disappear. The general impression is that this is not such a weird joke: official estimations based on tax office information in 1992 suggests a percentage of 40% of the workers in this branch working 'black', many of them illegalized migrants working as dishwashers or cleaners. The authorities in bigger cities have chosen a 'soft approach' to the employment of illegalized migrants in this branch. In this approach the tax offices play an important role. More and more, wage administration is checked by tax officers. For those controls no raids are necessary: they are carried out by individual officers who pay visits to companies. According to identification requirements since 1994, employers are obliged to keep copies of the passports of their employees within the wages administration. Each missing copy and each copy of an unvalid passport can be fined by a special assessment. It is very difficult to defend yourself against such an assessment, which is in most cases very high. Assessments can be prevented by firing illegalized employees after the first and before the second visit. It is clear that employers have done so, but there has been no research as to the scale on which it has happened over the last years. [back to top]

Illegalized Women
Most of the information in this article is based on our own experiences with illegalised refugees and other migrants. A part of it is based on research that was done at the Universities of Utrecht and Rotterdam, which resulted in some publications on illegalised migrants. However, our experiences, as well as the research projects, are mainly based on men. There has been no specific research into the position of illegalised women.
In general, we assume that illegalised women face more problems than illegalised men. To begin with, there are some general major problems that women face from the moment they arrive in the Netherlands. The first problem concerns women that asked for asylum: there is no real attention for gender specific grounds for asylum. The second problem concerns the fact that most residence permits for women depend on the one issued to their husband.

Women that apply for asylum have bad luck: there is no gender specific approach from the start (the first interview). Women's political activities are usually seen as marginal or supporting. It is no guarantee that female refugees can tell their story to a female official of the Ministry of Justice and a female interpreter. This certainly doesn't do justice to the asylum stories of women, certainly not in the case of sexual violence, abuse and discrimination based on gender. Women are often embarrassed about this kind of persecution, they hardly dare to talk about it. Being interviewed by a man only makes this worse. In special job instructions for officials in the Immigration and Naturalisation service, special requirements are formulated concerning tactfulness; amongst others, having female officials and interpreters at the int