Approximately 80 % of the commercial sex acts by Swedish men occurs in foreign countries. An undercover-report from the network Schyst Resande which include RealStars has revealed the behaviours and attitudes of the purchasers of commercial sex acts. The report also states how ordinary tourism is a contributing factor in normalisation of the commercial sex industry.
Joakim Medin is the journalist who has written the report on request by the network Schyst Resande- He went undercover in Thailand to outline the behaviours and attitudes of Swedish purchasers of commercial sex acts. In the report ”Welcome to Sin City” a numerous of Swedish men comments on why they purchase commercial sex acts and these comments outline an image of twisted structures, loneliness and a simplified image on prostitution. Purchasers of commercial sex acts have been categorised by the mechanisms that seem to underlie their behaviour. Some think that they are helping the women by purchasing commercial sex acts, others claim to have adapted to the culture in Thailand where prostitution, according to themselves, is a common occurrence, and others simply want to dominate, feel power and view themselves as “kings”. There are also those who seek “the girlfriend-experience” and states that it is themselves who are being exploited by the women financially, although they are the purchasers of commercial sex acts.
”If I am thirsty, I don’t have to bring myself a glass of water, she gets it for me. I think this attracts many Swedish men. Because who doesn’t want to be treated like a king”, says a 40-year old man from Gothenburg.
It is evident that many of the comments have both sexist and racial content that contravenes the official values of equality and equal opportunities in Sweden. By viewing themselves and other Swedish or Nordic men to be nicer than purchasers of commercial acts from other parts of the world their behaviour is justified in comparison that worse things can occur.
”A great deal has been written about those who are being taken advantage of in the commercial sex industry. Considerably less is written about the demand-driven men who determines the market” says Malin Roux Johansson, secretary-general for RealStars.
The report also states how the ordinary tourism in Thailand contributes in the normalisation of the commercial sex industry where the purchasers of commercial sex acts can act openly and relaxed. On the same street where men purchase commercial sex acts a family with children sit at the restaurant and enjoy their holiday. Later in the evening the commercial sex industry is mixed with partying tourists and no one seems to react to what is going on around them. A clear sign of normalisation.
The legal regulation of commercial sex acts in Sweden has no effect outside of Sweden. RealStars believe that Sweden should follow the example set in Norway with a legal regulation that applies in foreign countries. The legal regulation is fundamental and sends an important signal, but we also need to have a recurring discussion about the attitudes and the askew values that lead to commercial sex acts. We need to break the myths and false conception which feed the commercial sex industry and strengthen the values for equality and Fair Sex – sex on equal terms.
The network Schyst Resande is a cooperation between RealStars, Unionen, Childhood, Church of Sweden, Fair Action, The Hotel- and restaurant Workers’ union, The temperance movement IOGT-NTO and Union to Union. With for example informational material, educations, seminars and reports the network highlight questions about sustainable tourism. Fair Travel also educate ambassadors that lectures at schools, companies and organisations.