Länsstyrelsen in Stockholm recently released the report Prostitution in Sweden 2014 – A mapping of magnitude. We have read it and can once again conclude that prostitution and human trafficking are closely linked issues. More active and preventing work that works against sex purchases is also needed. The knowledge gaps that are highlighted in the report is also something RealStars welcome for mapping of in future reports.
Länsstyrelsen in Stockholm have mapped how prostitution in Sweden have developed during recent years. Around 7.5 percent of Swedish men between 18 and 65 years old have purchased sexual favours some time in their life. Most of them have done it before they turn 35. 0.8% of Swedish men have purchased sex some time during the last year. Both of the above numbers have been relatively constant over time. The support for the Swedish sex trade law is still strong, 72% of the Swedish population is positive towards it.
They have identified knowledge gaps and new trends. The aim of the report “has been to create knowledge that makes development and relevant policies, as well as adequate efforts for those who are affected by prostitution possible. Länsstyrelsen hope that this mapping of magnitude will offer a clearer picture of the magnitude and provide a better platform for making decisions on future efforts against prostitution.” (p. 14)
As previous studies have shown, street prostitution in Sweden has decreased while online ads for prostitution have increased. In eight years, the number of escort ads targeting men that buy sexual favours from women have increased dramatically, from 304 to 6965 ads. (p. 10) More individuals are being sold and buying is now more easily accessed then ever. However, this does not mean that the number of individuals involved in prostitution has increased. The dramatic increase in number of ads creates a need for more discussion regarding what norms this accessibility of escort ads is creating.
Magnitude mapping like these also bring large knowledge gaps with them. One example would be that a large amount of the statistics used is taken from population research. This research is used to access figures on the number of people purchasing sex, prostitutes, and so on. A big issue with this research is that not everyone active within prostitution in Sweden is Swedish citizens. Therefore, they are not included in the research. This also applies for women in institutional or criminal care, as well as women with intellectual disabilities.
As Länsstyrelsen highlight in their report, it is necessary to understand that prostitution sometimes can be interlinked with human trafficking for understanding both the magnitude as well as the change in prostitution. Here are also large knowledge gaps that must be mapped soon. Among other things, there are facts that indicate that refugee children that travel alone make up an increasingly larger risk category in terms of being exposed to prostitution and human trafficking. (p. 31)
One of the many conclusions of the report is that “there is still a need for systematic follow-ups, a need that also increases at the same speed as international movement and the fast development of communication, for example over the Internet and via social media.” (p. 32)
This is something RealStars see as crucial on the future agenda regarding active work against the purchasing of sex and human trafficking. We want to see more mapping of the sex purchasers in this type of research. We also want to see how the online sex purchasing is made, who is behind it and how different actors in the community can work together to stop this.
Read the whole report, its conclusions and recommendations (in Swedish) here.
Here is a summarising movie. (in Swedish)
(The pictures are featured in the report)