Cold Facts – youth perspectives on sex and the sex trade

According to Cold Facts, youths are purchasing sex at an unmeasured rate; this is even though purchasing sexual services has been illegal for 14 years. Cold Facts documentary which aired on November 3rd 2013 called “Young, attractive and John” is about seemingly normal young men at the age of 18 to 25 who thinks it is acceptable to purchase sexual services and their perspectives on the sex trade.

More than 250 000 purchases of sexual services occur online in the Stockholm area alone. In the group of men whom have been identified a third is born in 1980 or later. Cold Facts documentary is based on a survey where approximately 6000 emails between “Johns” and prostitutes have been examined. The conversations between the people who sell sex and the people who purchase it depicts the development of a new culture. A third of all purchases of sexual services online are made by young men born in 1980 or later.

– “Simon” who was interviewed for the documentary describes how the first time he ever purchased sex was when he was a student at the Upper Secondary School. He says that it felt uneasy, almost as rape. The feeling was pretty easy to shake after a few visits. Since then “Simon” has continued to meet with prostitutes approximately once a month.

In the 6000 emails it appears as these young men treated the women in prostitution as they were dating them. The so called “escort sites” that Cold Facts has examined operates from various parts of Europe according to the police. Clients who visits these sites and writes the women likes to tells them about their lives and send “ego pictures” of themselves. Professor Sven-Axel Månsson, who has studied the sex-trade and its mechanisms since the seventies says that the “dating behaviour” which is prevalent among the young sex purchasers and prostitutes of today is a new occurrence which has developed through the internet/Facebook culture. What the young men are after can be described as “the Girlfriend Experience”.

Mikis Kanakaris, the president of 1000 Opportunities, often visits schools to talk to youths about sex and relationships and appeared on SvTs morning show, states that young men’s’ nonchalance in regards to the sextrade is largely due to the accessibility of pornography.

Inger Segelström (S), one of the advocates for legislation of the Swedish law regulating the sex trade, says that it is time to adopt a new perspective in order to sufficiently address the problems. The law regulating the sex trade has to be used the right way and the crimes have to be made public – one should not be able to only pay a fine. Such a change could possibly make young view purchase of sexual services in a new light and not only as “a fun thing”.

Even if the law regulating the sex trade is not fully applied, it is an important tool and it was ground-breaking when first implemented in the late nineties. The law is an important tool against human trafficking and has diminished the scope of the sex trade; compared to other countries Sweden has a significantly smaller market for the sex trade. Only 8% of the Swedish male population purchase sex whereas the number in Germany is 25%. Swedish purchases of sex mostly occur abroad where the access is greater and the trade has been normalised. RealStars thinks it is incredibly important to spread the law against the purchase of sexual services to other countries, but also to examine how we can better apply the law and stop the sex trade described in the Cold Facts documentary.

The youth’s attitudes regarding sex and female/male sexuality should be discussed and this is where organisations such as RealStars has an important role. Today we have several activities to involve youths, a task which now with these new facts at hand, should be multiplies. Not least do we hope that the online game”Fair Sex: nätverket” can make a positive impact.

The documentary by Cold Facts is available here