chapter  5
Why Make a Difference? Migration Policy and Making Differences Between Migrant Men and Women (The Netherlands 1945–2005)
Pages 21

This chapter looks at differences between migrant men and women in Dutch migration policy in the period from 1945 to 2005. In some cases differences were made between men and women in laws, but mostly the differences were the outcome of indirect discrimination whereby a gender-neutral law impacted differently on women and men, to the distinct disadvantage of one or the other.1 Generally, governments are reluctant to change laws, but ordinances and circular letters, which fi ll in the details of laws, are easier to change and they create room for fl exibility.2 At that level policymakers can respond to outside pressure and the media coverage of migration issues. It is at the level of application that indirect discrimination occurred. In this chapter I look at how policies were infl uenced by the media coverage of migration issues. Under what conditions did policies change? The chapter seeks to show that policymakers were receptive to the presentation of migrant men as a threat and migrant women as at risk, because it helped them to justify restrictive migration policies.3 I focus on fi ve migration issues that led to heated debates: citizenship, dependent residency, worker status, deportability and prostitution. I examine who profi ted from creating differences and in what ways. The chapter starts with a section on how migration was presented as problematic in government policy and media coverage, followed by a discussion of the fi ve issues.