The RealStars volunteer Gabriella is writing about why she wants to be a volunteer for RealStars.
The rain is pattering on the windows of a house in Värmdö. A dim lamp lightens up an otherwise dark room where two of my friends and I are sitting on the sofa eating crisps. We’re talking about the kind of things you only talk about in the early hours. After a while, we start talking about prostitution and sex purchase, when one of my friends says: “If I was really desperate, I could see myself travelling to Berlin or Amsterdam in order to buy sex”. He tells us that in Berlin, people in prostitution have collective agreements and rights just like everyone else. He would never buy sex off a trafficking victim – “but that’s something entirely different”.
I get angry and prepare myself to tell him off, but I contain myself. Instead, I start to explain to him what I’ve read on the internet and learnt at seminars. I tell him that trafficking and prostitution go hand in hand; in the Netherlands in 2005, one in five identified trafficking victims were exploited in the legal prostitution industry. Three quarters of people in prostitution in the Netherlands are migrants, often from Europe’s poorest countries. I explain that nine out of ten people in prostitution want to quit and almost seven out of ten meet the criteria for PTSD.
After ten minutes, my friend has changed his mind: he doesn’t want to buy sex anymore. It took ten minutes to prevent a possible sex purchase; a possible exploitation of another human being.
92,5 percent of Swedish men have never purchased sex. That means that a large majority don’t buy sex, but it also means that one boy in every school class has bought or will buy sex. It took ten minutes for me to change my friend’s mind of possibly buying sex. What if once a year, every school class were to spend ten minutes discussing prostitution and sex purchase. What if preventing sex purchase – and thereby preventing the exploitation of another human being – was seen as equally important as learning the difference between “you’re” and “your”. What if one boy in every school class could be zero boys in every school class.
I want to spend more of my time for that utopia to become reality. I want to encourage discussion about prostitution and sex purchase, focus on the sex buyers and prevent exploitation of human beings. I believe in the power of discussion and knowledge, and I hope that my blogging for RealStars will inspire those things.
Gabriella Kärnekull Wolfe
Sources and further reading:
Farley et al, Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, (https://www.prostitutionresearch.com/pdf/Prostitutionin9Countries.pdf), 2003 Levenkron,
The Legalization Of Prostitution: Myth And Reality, (https://hotline.org.il/wp-content/uploads/The_Legalization_Of_Prostitution_English.pdf), 2007
Länsstyrelsen Stockholm, FAQ: “Prostitutionen i Sverige 2014 – en omfattningskartläggning”, (https://www.lansstyrelsen.se/stockholm/SiteCollectionDocuments/Sv/publikationer/2015/faq- prostitutionen-i-sverige-pdf.pdf), 2015
TAMPEP, Sex work in Europe, (https://tampep.eu/documents/TAMPEP%202009%20European%20Mapping%20Report.pdf), 2009