Showing posts with label Netherlands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Netherlands. Show all posts

June 1, 2018

Dutch Court Ruling, 'It is Time To Recognize a Third Gender'


A Dutch citizen on Monday won the right for the first time to be allowed to register as neither a man nor a woman, with judges urging lawmakers to recognize a "third gender".
The Limburg District Court in Roermond ruled that the unnamed plaintiff can now be recorded in the Dutch birth register as "gender undetermined" as opposed to male or female.
"At birth in 1961, this person's gender could not be determined and the parents decided to register the person as male, to make things easier at the time," the court said in a statement.  In 2001 however, the plaintiff underwent medical treatment and changed gender to female.
"Eventually it also turned out that the female gender did not fit the person, whose personality is experienced as gender-neutral," the court said, "feeling neither like a man nor a woman."
Court urges parliament to allow registration of a third gender
Court urges parliament to allow registration of a third gender CREDIT: PICTURESBYROB / ALAMY
The plaintiff then asked authorities to include a third, gender-neutral entry in the birth register.
A similar request by a different person was turned down in 2007 by the Netherlands' highest court, the High Council.
But due to "social and legal developments, the time is ripe for the recognition of a third gender," the judges said.
"To enable the registration of a third gender 'X', a legal amendment is crucial. It's now up to the lawmakers," they added. Meanwhile "the court rules in favor of changing the person's gender in the birth register to 'gender could not be determined'," the judges said.
Activists hailed the ruling, saying it was another step towards recognizing the rights of the Dutch transgender population, estimated to be between 0.2 to 2.0 percent of the country's 17 million people.
Current Transgender Issues:


‘Transgender’ is the umbrella term for people who identify with a different gender from the one they were assigned at birth – often diagnosed as ‘gender dysphoria’. The term ‘transsexual’ refers more specifically to someone who has had medical intervention and is considered archaic.

Public awareness

The number of people being diagnosed with gender dysphoria is on the rise, as public awareness increases. When Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the July 2015 cover of Vanity Fair – her first photo shoot since coming out as a trans woman – Google searches of the word ‘transgender’ reached an all-time high worldwide.

Surgery and hormones

In the UK and most countries around the world, children need to wait until they are adults before they can undergo gender reassignment surgery, but they can be prescribed synthetic hormones to suppress puberty. The effects are fully reversible, so treatment can be stopped at any time.

Age limits

There is no specific age when puberty-suppressing drugs can be prescribed: it depends when a child goes through puberty. The US state of Oregon recently made it legal for 15-year-olds to undergo gender reassignment surgery; most countries that do allow such surgery (including the UK) require the patient to be 18 or older.

Military service

Under President Obama, legislation was introduced to allow transgender soldiers to openly serve in the military. His successor, Donald Trump has announced plans to rescind that policy. All branches of Britain’s armed forces welcome transgender recruits.

April 26, 2018

In The Netherlands Mentally Ill Criminals Are Treated In a Very Unique Way

In the Netherlands, criminals with mental illness are treated completely differently in many other countries. Melissa Hogenboom visits a Dutch prison to find out how.
When I arrive at Zwolle prison in the Netherlands, it’s initially hard to imagine that the quiet building, situated next to a fast-food establishment and a garden center, houses 400 or so inmates – including those with some of the most severe psychiatric disorders among the prison population. Though the car park is full, there is nobody around outside the building. It’s not even immediately clear which door will open for me, but when enter I see that cameras were already recording my every move.
Although I first enter into the staff area – separate from the prisoners by several locked doors, I am still subject to strict security checks. My passport, work ID, and camera are checked, and my belongings scanned before I may enter. It’s clear from the moment I pass through the heavy metal doors, that I am entering a prison.
About 124 men and 36 women live here, separate from the general prison population. A third of the women are in the “crisis ward”: the place where their condition is stabilized before they enter the general psychiatric ward.
There are 421 female prisoners in the Netherlands (Credit: Melissa Hogenboom)
Globally, this is rare. In countries like the UK and US, prisoners with mental health conditions often end up in the general prison population. But in the Netherlands prisoners are streamlined into specific segments following a charge. The idea is that this way, they can receive the proper, and particular, care they need.
I’m visiting Zwolle prison to understand what effect this segmentation has – and to what extent it helps those who are mentally unwell. My main focus is on how it affects women, following my in-depth piece last week looking at women with mental health issues in prisons. (Read more: Locked up and vulnerable: When prison makes things worse.)
Five levels of justice
One of the unique things about the Dutch criminal justice system is that a person can be judged to be responsible for their crime on five levels. “Dutch law differs from English law in that it recognises a sliding scale from full responsibility through to total lack of responsibility, with three levels in between,” explains one report in the journal Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health. While the diminished responsibility clause in the UK is similar, there is no such sliding scale.
Consider a situation where an individual takes drugs that contribute to a psychotic episode. If they then go on to commit a violent crime, they can be held responsible on some level, as they made the decision to take the drugs. But if the psychotic episode wasn’t drug-induced, they might be seen as less responsible for their crime.
At the Zwolle PPC, half the females have committed acts of arson
This means that mental illness among criminals is tackled quite differently compared with many other countries. If found to have a mental health issue, a convict can be sent to one of several different places. “They filter them at the beginning before they are even inside,” says Maud Verbruggen, a psychologist at Zwolle Prison. When a person first enters prison, they are again quickly seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist. At Zwolle, I meet staff who work with these prisoners, psychologist Verbruggen and psychiatrist Menno van Koningsveld.
 They tend to get beaten, abused, or get medication taken from them 
Those who have the most severe cases or those who refuse treatment can be sent to what’s called a PPC – short for a penitentiary psychiatric center. PPCs are separate from the general prison population, as is the case here in Zwolle.
In less severe cases, they can go to a place called the EZG(extra care facility), which is set up to “offer a quiet and stimulating environment”, according to the Dutch Ministry of Justice. There are also several places in general mental health hospitals for those who agree to voluntary treatment.
There are many benefits to this early streamlining, the team tells me. If you place people, especially those who self-harm, on a regular floor, “it would be a disaster,” Verbruggen says. They need more structure and need to be better protected – and they are also less predictable, she explains.
Psychologist Maud Verbruggen and psychiatrist Menno van Koningsveld
For instance, in regular jails in the Netherlands, it is becoming increasingly more routine for inmates to get their own keys to their cell. Not so at the PPCs. There the prisoners have less responsibility because they are more vulnerable, the doctors say. 
 Women who find themselves here enter when their world is falling apart 
“They tend to get beaten, abused, or get medication taken from them,” says van Koningsveld, who has worked in prisons for several decades. The inmates also may engage in antisocial behavior such as shouting at night. And intentionally or unintentionally, they may harm themselves: van Koningsveld says some of them “literally eat their own socks”, or pick plugs apart and try to swallow any small metal fragments they get their hands on.
There are 12 beds in the female crisis ward for those experiencing acute mental health symptoms, some of whom refuse medication. (In that case, van Koningsveld can step in and overrule an inmate’s refusal).
Zwolle Prison
Additionally, there are women who are kept separate for their own safety, such as the small number who have committed infanticide, a crime that can attract abuse or harassment from the other prisoners. These women typically also tend to be on suicide watch.
Women who find themselves here enter when their “world is falling apart”, Verbruggen says. The help they get gives them structure and a daily routine, as well as food, shelter and medical care. Many of these women did not have adequate access to these basic needs in the past, especially those who lived on the streets.
On the day I visit, there are 12 free beds in the women’s ward, a rare occurrence – usually, there is a waiting list as demand remains high. Although the Netherlands has seen dramatically declining prison populations year on year, with 19 prisons recently closed, van Koningsveld explains that this is large because of electronic ankle bracelets and an increase in community sentencing.
Criminal Myths
A special series about the factors that shape crime
At a time when prison numbers are rising throughout the world, BBC Future is exploring several misconceptions about criminals and crime.
If some of our ideas about criminals are wrong, this has lasting implications, both during prison and when they re-enter society.
If you are enjoying this story, take a look at the other pieces in our Criminal Myths series, including: Locked up and vulnerable: When prison makes things worse.
For psychiatric patients, particularly women, prison populations are actually increasing. That is true both in the Netherlands as well as worldwide, research shows. It’s not immediately clear why. It might be due to a shift in society, van Koningsveld guesses. Social structures are not as closely-knit as they used to be, and he believes that people have become more individualistic. “When you start shouting [on the street] there’s rarely anybody who says – do you want something to eat. Instead they call the police.” Research backs this up. A 2017 study on 78 countries found that individualism has increased in “most of the societies” tested.
The prison population in the Netherlands is declining (Credit: Melissa Hogenboom)
As of April 2018, there were 421 women among the roughly 8,000 prisoners in the Netherlands, according to the Ministry of Justice. This is down from 547 in 2016. The director of the prison service, Angeline van Dijk, told the BBC On Assignment programme in 2016 that aside from the increase in the use of ankle bracelets, one reason for such a stark decline is that jail is largely used for dangerous and vulnerable individuals. But those who commit less severe crimes can be sentenced in the community. (Others blame cuts to the police force for the decline, instead).
The average stay for women entering the Zwolle PCC is about four months. It’s often a holding place before they get sentenced, or sometimes even released. If a judge lets them go free, it can leave little time for a mental health programme to be effective.
This is one of the reasons that repeat offenses – and psychiatric relapses – remain common. Verbruggen and van Koningsveld also explain something I did not expect: inside, prisoners are more likely to get psychiatric care than they are on the outside. This is attributed to a shortage of psychiatrists for the general population. Another point is that the inmates tend to be “problem patients”, who can be aggressive and often require immediate help, rather being placed on typically long waiting lists.
Violent crimes 
Those who commit the most serious violent offenses can be detained in a forensic institution called the TBS(terbeschikkingstelling), which means “at the disposal of the government”. They can be held there until they are no longer deemed a risk to the public – something that is reviewed every one or two years.
The sign here reads "entrance for inmates" (Credit: Melissa Hogenboom)
Vivienne de Vogel works as a forensic psychologist at one of these TBS hospitals in Utrecht, specializing in violent female offenders. She tells me that if the risk of reoffending is high, the inmate’s stay can be extended for several years beyond their original prison sentence (both a prison and TBS sentence can be given). The average stay is between six and seven years and the aim of TBS is twofold: to protect the public as well as rehabilitate those who are there.
 Risk-assessment tools have been developed for men and are tested on men 
In 2007, researchers noted that this system has “been a pragmatic and successful way of reducing reoffending of high-risk offenders in the Netherlands,” and that the UK could learn from the Dutch. The UK, in fact, did open a similar institution inspired by the TBS in 2001 but it was seen as ineffective “in managing those whom it was primarily targeting and may not have been cost-effective,” according to a 2010 report. It was “decommissioned” in 2011.  
Still, one weak point that the Dutch system shares with prisons elsewhere is that it was developed largely with men in mind. For instance, risk-assessment tools have been “developed for men and are tested on men,” de Vogel says. Yet she has found that women who commit violent crime show a patterned history of complex problems that are different from men.
This is especially the case for some of those who commit very serious crimes, such as one woman with a history of psychopathy who ordered the rape of another with whom her boyfriend had been unfaithful. Probing a little deeper, de Vogel quickly noticed that these women almost always had troubled backgrounds. Taking into account their full life history does not excuse their offenses. But she found that it does help to treat their mental illness and to rehabilitate them.
That’s why de Vogel has developed a gender-specific risk assessment tool, not yet widely used, which takes into account risk factors like a history of prostitution, difficulties raising children, teenage pregnancy and low self-esteem – the latter of which has been found to be a risk factor for female reoffending, but not for men.
Lighters, food, cigarettes are not allowed (Credit: Melissa Hogenboom)
De Vogel hopes that society at large will understand that these women can and should be “treated” as well as convicted – something that will help prevent reoffending in the future, she says. (The approach seems to work; few women who leave TBS reoffend).
 They also feel because they are in prison they can’t go any lower, and need to change 
When I looked at mental health in the prisons system, particularly in the UK, I found that individuals struggle to receive the help they need. It’s often left to charities to step in. In Zwolle, Verbruggen says that isn’t the case – at least not when they enter prison. As well as the resources that the Dutch system provides, there is the sense of having hit bottom. “They also feel because they are in prison they can’t go any lower and need to change,” she says of the inmates. As in the UK, though, psychiatric care outside prison also can be harder to access.
That’s not to say there is enough time to address a patient’s needs before they are released. It’s telling that the aim of PPCs is “stabilization”. Even the average stay of four months does not necessarily leave enough time to treat other underlying conditions or to begin to think about rehabilitation.
When they leave prison, people can find themselves in the same chaotic social structures that they were before – on the margins of society, meeting the same individuals that contributed to their trouble in the first place.
As I leave Zwolle prison through a metal detector that beeps as I pass, two large blue metal doors close behind me. I know I am unlikely to be back any time soon. Unfortunately, this may not always be true for the inmates who leave the same way once their sentence ends.
Written By Melissa Hogenboom
Criminal Myths is a new series curated and edited by Melissa Hogenboom. She is @melissasuzanneh on twitter. Are there other factors or questions you think we should explore? Let us know your opinions on the social links below, or share your thoughts with the hashtag #criminalmyths. 

July 31, 2017

Trump Sends A Gay Hater to a Gay Friendly Country

 Netherlands who previously had a gay ambassador

Take a quick peek at President Trump's ambassador appointments. Most are pretty ordinary by American standards, a mix of big-time Republican donors (many with at least a little foreign policy experience) and GOP politicians like former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.) and Jon Huntsman Jr., an experienced ambassador and former Utah governor.

There's one name that is causing a stir, however: Pete Hoekstra.

Hoekstra was tapped to serve in the Netherlands, where he lived until he was 3. The eight-term congressman from Michigan (Fun fact: His district, home to Holland, Mich., has one of the highest concentrations of Dutch people in the country) established the Dutch Congressional Caucus in the House. “His personal memories of the Netherlands are minimal, but he feels the cultural connection with our country really strongly,” journalist Wouter Zwart told the Netherland Times. He “combines rich political experience in America with a lifelong love for the Netherlands, because that is where his roots are.”

So far, so good. But some of his positions put him deeply at odds with the Dutch.

Hoekstra is one of the founders of the tea party movement. He is also a fervent opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion rights. While in office, he co-sponsored nine anti-LGBT bills, including the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. He has also backed efforts to restrict same-sex adoption and refused to adopt a nondiscrimination policy against LGBTQ people in his own office. 

He's a strong advocate of the death penalty and an immigration hard-liner. He has spoken at meetings of the anti-Islam American Freedom Alliance (so has Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders) and once blamed a “secret jihad” for the “chaos” in the Netherlands, saying, “Cars are being set on fire. Politicians are being set on fire … yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”

That doesn't sit well with the Dutch, who see their country as one of the most progressive in the world. The Netherlands was the first country to approve same-sex marriage, and it boasts a fairly open immigration policy.

The Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant took aim at Hoekstra, observing that Trump “put a Dutchman in the Netherlands — but it is a Dutchman from the Netherlands of the '50s.” Of the appointment, liberal politician Sophie in ‘t Veld said, “We are looking forward with interest to cooperating with Mr. Hoekstra. We will certainly remind him his roots lie in a country that values tolerance, equality and inclusion … we expect the representative of our friend and ally the United States to fully and wholly respect our values and to show that respect in all his acts and words.”

And, experts say, it's fairly unusual to appoint someone so at odds with a country's politics, particularly when it's an ally. “Generally speaking, presidents do not consciously nominate people who would tend to raise hackles within the host country,” said Stewart M. Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Usually, presidents only do that when they're trying to make a point to a problematic regime. He pointed to Smith Hempstone, a journalist who served as ambassador to Kenya between 1989 and 1993. Hempstone was an “effective, aggressively undiplomatic critic of the country's ruler, Daniel arap Moi.” He was credited with helping shepherd Kenya toward multiparty elections. 

Patrick said, though, that presidents generally appoint people whose political views line up with their own. And he suspects Hoekstra will not struggle to build bridges with the Dutch government, particularly if he avoids lighting rod social issues. (Hoekstra, for his part, suggested in a 2006 interview that he'll do just that. “It is clear that the Netherlands has made a different choice in a number of areas than the USA,” he said. “You must respect that as a foreign politician, even though you have a different opinion.")

And Patrick noted that Hoekstra has a strong policy background and familiarity with national security issues, “even if some of his prescriptions are different than those that the Dutch government itself would be leaning toward.”

“It's not as if in this case the president is appointing someone who doesn't know where the country is,” Patrick said.

That is, more often than not, the problem with political ambassador appointees. About a third of all American ambassadorships go to political appointees, a highly unusual system that allows presidents of both parties to reward political allies with cushy assignments in glitzy capitals or glamorous locations. (The rest are career Foreign Service officers, steeped in regional knowledge and trained in the art of tough negotiation.) That has led to some embarrassing confirmation hearings.

President Barack Obama's appointee to Norway, hotel magnate George Tsunis, was slammed for displaying a “total ignorance of Norway,” in his confirmation hearing. In one flub, he categorized one of the nation's ruling parties as extremist. Obama's nominee to Argentina, Noah Bryson Mamet, had never been to the country and was not fluent in Spanish.

The Washington Post

October 15, 2013

Netherlands Gay marriage and Davey Wavey

31 Days Of Davey Wavey: The Time The Netherlands Legalized Gay Marriage

October is Gay History Month but we always stunk at history, so we called on YouTube sensation Davey Wavey to fill us in on some of the accomplishments of the LGBT community through the ages. Of course, Davey’s no Ken Burns either, so take what he says with a grain of salt.
Today, Davey Wavey and YouTub sensation Taryn Johsnon recount the historic passage of marriage equality in the Netherlands, the first modern nation to embrace same-sex nuptials. Of course it was the Netherlands—even their unattractive people are 8s.
sven franken by Martijn Smouter
Photo: Martijn Smouter

Take Sven Franken here—a Dutch model and a finalist in this year’s Mr. Gay Netherlands contest. Actually don’t take him—we want him for ourselves, to have and to hold.
posted on and by NewNowNext Staff

October 5, 2013

Netherlands Takes Legal Action Against Russia in Greenpeace. Russia Retaliates

Let me first tell you about the Russian retaliation since at the moment consist of one step hurting Russian babies without parents and couples not able to adopt. The Russians could not find a more human hurting action than cutting off the Netherlands from adopting Russian babies.
Adam Gonzalez
 Russian security services abseiling from a helicopter onto the Arctic Sunrise and seizing the ship at gunpoint following an attempt by Greenpeace activists to climb the 'Prirazlomnaya' oil rig
MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti) – The Netherlands has taken legal action against Russia, saying it illegally seized a Dutch-flagged ship and its crew during a Greenpeace protest against a Gazprom oil rig in the Arctic.
“We’re asking Russia to release the ship and the crew,” Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Friso Wijnen told RIA Novosti.
The Netherlands has launched the arbitration procedure under a United Nations convention on maritime law that compels the two countries to choose a third party to settle the dispute, Wijnen said.
“If there is no progress, then in two weeks’ time we will submit [the case] to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg for a provisional measure,” the official said.
Russian border guards seized the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, on September 19 following an attempt by several activists to climb up the state-owned rig, the first commercial offshore oil well in the Arctic.
All 30 people aboard the ship – including the crew, activists and two freelance journalists – are in Russian custody and were charged earlier this week with piracy, punishable with up to 15 years in prison.
“Russian officials will now be called to explain their actions before an international court of law, where it will be unable to justify these absurd piracy allegations,” Greenpeace lawyer Jasper Teulings said in comments posted on the group’s website.
Greenpeace is planning protests in 45 countries on Saturday to decry the arrests. The group maintains that an offshore spill in the Arctic would be impossible to clean up using today’s technologies.
The Gazprom oil rig, situated on the vast Prirazlomnoye deposit, is due to start commercial extraction by the end of the year, its operator said Friday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has not yet commented on the Dutch legal action. No one at the ministry returned a telephone call for comment after regular working hours.

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