Festival during the 2015 World Skiing Championships in Falun – the dark side of the sex trade

Last night Swedish TV4 news featured the increased incidence of prostitution and probable sex trafficking in Falun during the festivities around the 2015 World Skiing Championships. The police and authorities have tried with the help of the tourism industry and the public’s help to tackle problems in a proactive manner. However, they still face criticism by the local Social Democratic women for not having prepared the participants and spectators sufficiently.

“This sort of criminal activity is difficult to access and then prove. Regarding the Sexual Purchase Act, we need to apprehend the culprits in the act,” said Dalecarlia Police spokesperson Stefan Dangardt to DN as early as February 13, 2015.

That prostitution does increase when large groups of men gather in an area is something that government agencies and community organizations do expect. We can therefore ask ourselves why the Swedish organizers of the World Skiing Championships did not take the opportunity to actively distance themselves from prostitution by providing information from the Swedish Sex Purchase Act. Realstars suggests that information should have been printed on official invitations, tickets, information sent from the tourism industry, digital information screens, etc.

It is obviously not the ski industry’s fault that prostitution has increased in Falun, but everyone has to take responsibility. It is known that a large number of people will come to Falun watching or playing sports, and many intend to buy sex. Therefore, it is also the organizers’ responsibility and interest to inform the public about the Swedish Sex Purchase Act. This is something that politicians in Falun raised awareness of in the media. Preventive action at the big event is in line with the Realstars new initiative for the tourism industry. This project, “Innovation Against Trafficking”, is currently under way as a pilot project in western Sweden. The project is funded by Vinnova and gathers key players for interdisciplinary collaborations for a trafficking free tourism industry.

By highlighting the issue during major events like the World Skiing Championships in Falun, that human trafficking for sexual purposes is not accepted, we can distance ourselves from trafficking, both as individuals and as a society. If rape of local women at major events had shown an equally large increase, attitudes and resources to tackle crime in question would have been quite different.