Conference about the sex trade in Sweden

During Monday October 12th, RealStars participated in a conference about the sex trade in Sweden, arranged by the nonprofit organization “Talita”. The day presented a busy schedule with many prominent speakers such as Beatrice Ask, Simon Häggström, Caroline Engvall and Björn Sellström. In the text below follows a few trends we observed during the day.

Beatrice Ask opened the conference with a few points regarding the Swedish legislation and the political climate. She addressed the question which is often asked; has the Swedish legislation worked? In the evaluations conducted the following have been stated;

– Street prostitution have been halved, but the amount of advertising of prostitution on the internet continues to grow (however, not at all at the same rate as in other countries where purchasing sexual services have been legalized).

– Human trafficking is closely tied to other forms of organized crime.

– By counteracting demand through legislation Sweden is not an appealing country for human traffickers.

– The legislation is highly supported by the population.

The day was continued by Caroline Engvall who talked about ”Children and youths who are being abused in prostitution”. She told us about how she has received approximately 2000 separate emails from young girls and boys who have been abused in some way. But the number of unrecorded cases is great. Caroline’s opinion is that it is imperative that adults take the time to listen while not judging youths. It is a part of adolescence to be curious and explore one’s own sexuality. At the same time, the numbers and facts speak for themselves;

– 25% of all young girls have been sexually abused (7% of boys)

-10% of the girls have been severely sexually abused (3% of boys)

– Almost 50% of all cases of abuse take place between youths

– 1.7% of boys in upper secondary education have sold sexual services for payment (1.2% for girls)

The fact that adults are looking for children and youths on the internet is becoming more common and during the last few years a number of “grooming cases” have been exposed. These conversations often start innocently but quickly spiral into something that children and youths cannot control. They are lured and threatened into committing virtual rape towards themselves. Throughout the day several speakers highlighted the children’s perspective; among those were Björn Sällström, a police officer from Nationella Operativa Avdelningen. Björn described, in detail, the efforts made by police regarding documented cases of child abuse. He also described the great need of documenting the abuse of children in Sweden and around the world. That these cases become increasingly severe and that what these children are subjected to is macabre.

During the day we also received a report from Simon Häggström, from the prostitution group in Stockholm. The report pertains to the trends that policemen in the field are experiencing. The police is experiencing that those who purchase sex are found to be increasingly younger, that they purchase sex as a “fun thing to do with their friends” and that those who get caught do not understand that they have committed a crime.

Realstars thought the day was very rewarding and at times very emotionally strenuous.

The fact that those who purchase sex are found to be younger and younger is worrisome, and pre-emptive measures have to be directed towards youth at an early stage. To talk about the sex trade, trafficking and the fact that those who purchase sex are inciting this form of organized crime is important. This is something that we, on a daily basis, observe to be appreciated when we visit schools.

If we could make a wish in anticipation of future similar events it would be to have a more significant focus on pre-emptive measures directed towards youths.

To round the day off, several of the myths that prevails about prostitution were addressed. The fact that big, influential organizations chooses to label a life in prostitution as “sex work” is something that we all agree on to be detrimental and that it implies that we slowly are demolishing human rights and the inherent value of humans in the most vulnerable groups in our society.

Realstars would like to thank Talita for a well-conducted day.