The Netherlands has long been seen as open and liberal when it comes to sexuality. Prostitution is legal, and the nudity and sex scenes on television and in movies hardly raise eyebrows.
But allegations of widespread sexual misconduct engulfed a popular Dutch TV talent show that recently highlighted how that permissive culture can allow sexual issues to be ignored. consent, gender and misconduct.
Gerda de Groot, coordinator at the Center for Sexual Assault, a national organization dedicated to helping victims of abuse and misconduct. “Really talking about consent is very difficult.”
Since allegations of sexual misconduct spread on the TV talent show “The Voice of Holland”, which came to light this month, involving a number of known celebrities most in the Netherlands, Dutch organizations say they have noticed an increase in calls to report sexual abuse.
Janke Dekker, head of the board of Mores, an organization that helps victims of sexual misconduct in the cultural and creative sectors of the Netherlands, said: more registrations in three days than in all of 2021. “That says something about the massive wave that has been unleashed.”
On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered in Amsterdam to raise awareness about issues of sexual misconduct, calling for a broader change in Dutch society, with the slogan “don’t blame, but change”, and experts say the scandal is forcing the Netherlands to take into account topic.
“In the Netherlands, we have not experienced #MeToo like in France or the US,” said Sara Alaoui-Dekker, president of Together We Rise, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting victims of sexual violence. . “It mostly skimmed past us, like it wasn’t in our own backyard. I think people are just starting to realize what #MeToo is now. ”
The sexual misconduct allegations against four prominent cast members of “The Voice of Holland,” a show that originated in the Netherlands and spawned versions are now broadcast around the world, are first reported by BOOS, an online program from the public broadcaster BNNVARA.
Since then, allegations – from anonymous victims, showrunners, detailing sexual assaults and routine misconduct – have dominated news broadcasts. and Dutch talk shows and fueled debate around the country.
The men accused of misconduct include two famous singers who served as coaches on the talent show. The show’s bandleader, Jeroen Rietbergen, admitting inappropriate behavior and resigned this month after the allegations came to light. An unnamed director who denied the charges against him with a Dutch newspaper, was also charged with adultery. No charges have been filed against the men by the police.
The show’s creator, John de Mol, later caused outrage by saying that women had to report misconduct and appeared to blame the victims.
Mr. de Mol, who oversaw “The Voice of Holland” for almost a decade, until 2019 and remains a powerful media executive, said: “I hope they have learned to ring the bells. immediate alarm. “Women seem to have some sort of shame. I do not know what it is. I want to inform myself about that. “
After the comments aired, female employees from his production company, Talpa, approached him in a one-page advertisement in a Dutch newspaper. “Dear John,” ads read, “It is not the fault of the women. Best of all, the women in your company. ”
Mr. de Mol later said in a statement that he did not intend to blame the victims.
The “Voice of Holland” allegations scandal is not the first time sexual abuse has caused a stir in the Netherlands. A prominent Dutch selection director was accused of widespread sexual misconduct in 2017. And the country has also seen less prominent cases in recent years, including in the world of dance and gymnastics.
But no case has resonated as much as the “Voice of Holland” scandal, Mores’ Ms Dekker said, in part because it involved celebrities.
“We found that the readiness to fight was huge – this sense of being, ‘They’re not going to run away from this anymore,’ ‘” Ms. Dekker said, adding that many victims People are still afraid to speak out. As the scandal has consumed Dutch society, she said, social media is filled with support for the victims as well as harsh criticism and comments.
Together We Rise’s Alaoui-Dekker says her organization has also seen a dramatic increase in the number of women reporting allegations of misconduct since reporting on “The Voice of Holland.” ” aired.
In the Netherlands, a country of about 17.6 million people, more than 100,000 people are sexually assaulted every year, according to government figures, 90% of whom are women. A total of 1.6 million people reported some type of sexual misconduct, including things like unwanted stares and online harassment.
Ms Dekker said the government had been working in recent years to tackle sexual misconduct and make people more aware of the problem. Last year, the government started an advertising campaign focused on conversations around consent and in 2020, the Attorney General at the time, Ferd Grapperhaus, proposed modernizing and sharpening laws against sexual violence, including abuse online and sexual intimidation, among other things. The law is expected to go into effect in 2024.
“Inappropriate sexual behavior also occurs in the Netherlands. In that sense, it’s nothing new,” said Willy van Berlo, program director at Rutgers, a Dutch center dedicated to researching and supporting young people on sexual rights and health. “But ‘Dutch Vocals’ was a huge breakdown,” she added.
Part of the solution will be to foster more discussion about consent, gender and respectful behavior as a larger part of sex education programs in schools, van Berlo said. Curriculum often focuses more on contraception and other parts of sexuality.
Aspects of that education have proven successful, she says, citing the low rate of teenage pregnancy in the Netherlands. According to government data, the number of teenage mothers has dropped by about 50% between 2010 and 2020, to less than 1,200.
“We are very proud of that,” van Berlo said, “but respectful behavior and consent are not getting enough attention.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/world/europe/metoo-voice-holland-netherlands.html #MeToo Scandal at a Dutch TV show sparked a rebound sexual assault