The Swedish Institute puts focus on the sex buyer

Who pays for sex? I have asked it myself and discussed it with my friend.

– A man with a white mesh shirt and an unbearable stench of alcohol. A filthy guy who don’t get laid, a friend jokes.
Maybe that ”humorous” character is an exaggerated caricature of how people think the “typical sex buyer” looks like. A haggard, dirty pariah.

The personification of the sex buyer in Kajsa Claude’s ”Targeting the sex buyer. the Swedish example of: Stopping prostitution and trafficking where it all begins”, shows a different picture of who buys sex.

Claude has read the Swedish National Council for Crime prevention’s report from 2008. It states that sex buyers are not a homogenous group. Sex buyers come in different age groups, from teenagers to 80-year olds. But most common are men between 30 and 50, half of whom come from an academic background and have a good job. Every other buyer is in a relationship or married and four out of ten have children. According to the book, a sex buyer can be anyone – any age or class. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to find them. But I want to criticize the book a bit because it scares the reader. It says that it could be someone you know, a friend or a neighbor.

I think we must trust that those closest to us don’t commit these crimes. But we must be aware when it actually happens.

What’s important instead is to work to prevent trafficking and prostitution. How do we stop it? Men must change their behavior and stop paying for sex, says inspector Kajsa Wahlberg in ”Targeting the sex buyer”.

How does one stop that behavior then? I think it is possible to prevent it and school plays a big part. When I went to school I barely knew that prostitution and trafficking existed in Sweden. The (limited) picture of the woman selling sex was as distorted as the one of the sleazy sex buyer. The few prostitutes in Sweden walked along Malmskillnadsgatan in fur coat and leather skirts. They had lots of makeup, long black eyelashes and pink eye shadow.

By discussing this issue and creating awareness of it in school and society, young people and adults learn more about what’s going on. Maybe then the impression of sex buyers and prostitutes won’t be as distorted and we all understand we have a responsibility to make sure prostitution and trafficking don’t exist.

Elizabeth Granqvist for RealStars