SHARE
COPY LINK

PROSTITUTION

Rip up prostitution law, says top Oslo politician

Norway should rip up a law that criminalizes sex buyers, Oslo’s social affairs chief believes, as a new report shows a marked rise in violence against prostitutes working in the city.

Rip up prostitution law, says top Oslo politician
Photo: Heiko Junge/Scanpix (File)

Anniken Hauglie (Conservative Party) called for the law to be scrapped after the city’s official help centre for prostitutes, Pro Sentret, released a report on Friday detailing deteriorating conditions for sex workers in the capital.

”The reality is that the law has made it more difficult for women in prostitution,” Hauglie said.

”It’s our political responsibility to take this feedback seriously. In my view, the sex buyer ban should be repealed, and I think the parliament should at least evaluate the effects of the law.”

The 2009 prostitution law prohibits the purchase but not the sale of sexual services, with legislators seeking to stymie the trade by targeting demand.

But the Pro Sentret report indicates that the law has in fact made prostitutes much more susceptible to violence at the hands of their clients as the sex trade moves further underground.

What’s more, prostitutes have become less inclined to seek help since the law came into force, with many now perceiving that they too are viewed as criminals, the report says.

Many of the women also said the new law had scared off many of their more reliable customers, while troublesome and violent clients were relatively undeterred.

According to the study, titled Farlige Forbindelser (Dangerous Liaisons), 59 percent of prostitutes in Oslo have fallen victim to some form of violence in the last three years.

”Violence against women in prostitution is brutal and frequent,” said Ulla Bjørndahl at Pro Sentret.

”Often the violence is extreme. Eleven people have faced death threats, many have been threatened with weapons, or have been exposed to robbery, rape, or were threatened into participating in non-consensual sex,” Bjørndahl told newspaper Dagbladet.

Anniken Hauglie said she was appalled by the report’s findings.

”It’s heartbreaking to see the violence they are subjected too, only to then learn that many of them don’t report (the crimes). That means the aggressors walk away and are free to endanger others.”

The report is based on interviews carried out from January to March this year with 123 prostitutes working on the streets, out of apartments, and in massage parlours offering sexual services.   

In a similar study from 2008, 52 percent of prostitutes said they had been the victims of violence.

The prostitutes who participated in this year’s study came from 16 different countries. Fifty were from Thailand, 24 from Nigeria, and 21 from Norway.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

PROSTITUTION

Human trafficking in Norway is ‘risk free’

Organized crime groups involved in illegally bringing sex workers to Norway are so seldom caught or prosecuted that they view the activity as a risk-free business, according to the sex-worker support charity Rosa.

Human trafficking in Norway is 'risk free'
Prostitutes are a common site on Karl Johans Gate at night. Photo: Claudia Regina/Flickr
"They look at Norway as a risk-free and profitable market, because there is a lot of money in circulation, high demand from men who want to buy sex and no risk of getting caught.” Mildrid Mikkelsen, the head of ROSA, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK
 
Only 36 cases of human trafficking for prostitution were reported in Norway last year, and of those cases, only two led to a trial. 
 
”They [the police] have been working with such limited resources that it has been virtually risk-free for organized crime in Norway," she added. "We know of specific cases with evidence that have been dropped. It is simply an untenable situation.”
 
Harald Bøhler, head of the organized crime unit within Oslo's police, defended the police's record, arguing that cases of human trafficking and prostitution were notoriously difficult to bring to prosecution.
 
”The crime is often reported some time after the offence has occurred," he told NRK. "Witnesses and others involved don’t stay here in the country, making investigations difficult." 
 
According to Rosa, victims of human trafficking often view reporting the crime to the police as futile, given the proportion of reported cases which make it to court. 
 
Often those who report cases risk being deported, while only those whose cases make it to court receive any police protection. 
 
Frequently, human trafficking victims are returned to Italy under the Dublin Agreement, because that is where they are first registered as asylum seekers by the Nigerian-run human trafficking organizations based in the country. 
 
“When the women return, they are punished by the traffickers for reporting them to the police," Esohe Aghatise, an Italian expert on human trafficking told NRK. "They are forced to make money through prostitution to make up for lost income.”