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This week 21 men are on trial in the court of Den Bosch for human trafficking and fornication with the minor Sharella. The now 18-year-old from Valkenswaard says in court that in 2019, at the age of 16, she chose to go into prostitution. She used the identity document of her 21-year-old sister from Rotterdam.

During police interrogations, Sharella states that she does not think it is fair that 18 men have to appear in court because they had paid sex with her. “I feel like I’m screwing them over. I misled the men myself, I’m a good liar,” Sharella said in the police interrogation.

Today three drivers from Sharella are on trial who took her to sex appointments. The young woman also says that they had nothing to do with her work and that they are therefore not loverboys or pimps. “I made the agreements with the customers myself and managed the money. If I earned 500 euros, the driver received 150 euros,” she says.

This makes the case a lot more complicated for the court because there is no question of human trafficking. Nevertheless, Shamir Ceuleers, spokesperson for the Center against Child Trafficking and Human Trafficking (CKM), thinks that Sharella did not just roll into work. “Very often we see that vulnerable girl more often end up in sex work. They often already have a history with youth care, or they are slightly mentally handicapped, or they have to deal with an unstable home situation. You don’t just come to such a place, You are not going to do this just like that”, he tells AD.

Are you a victim of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation and do you need help?

Sexual Violence Center offers professional help to anyone who has recently experienced an unwanted sexual experience. You can also contact Victim Support. They can offer you emotional support or help you file a report. You will also find a community here where you can talk to fellow sufferers.

The police found Sharella after an advertisement on sexjobs.nl. An undercover agent made an appointment with Sharella and met her in a hotel in Eindhoven. When he asked her for ID, she could only provide a copy. That later turned out to be from her 21-year-old sister.

Although Sharella previously stated in a police questioning that she had a good life thanks to her sex work, she later admitted that life as a prostitute is very hard for a 16-year-old. Sharella made a lot of money at a young age, but after three months of sex work she weighed only 44 kilos. She is currently staying in a youth boarding school in Breda.

Of the 18 men on trial this week in the case, only one man asked for Sharella’s ID. That is why Shamir Ceuleers believes that the suspects deserve a punishment, despite Sharella’s statement. “The law says that you are always punishable if you pay for sex with a minor. It doesn’t matter if you knew it or not, you are always punished. Unfortunately, in practice, we see that these men often get away with a day in jail and community service. We say it is the customer’s responsibility to check it. If you don’t even ask or make the effort to check it, it shows that you are not taking responsibility,” the spokesperson told the AD.

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