Fewer prostitutes, but conditions worsen after new law in Norway
OSLO (AFP) — A Norwegian law cracking down on soliciting sex has made a real dent in street prostitution, and for the few sex workers that remain, times are tough.
Since January 1, men caught buying sex face up to six months in jail and in some cases a fine. The impact of the law has been immediate, with most sex workers disappearing from the streets at once.
“The clients are extremely nervous. Most of them don’t dare come here,” said Nadia, a 22-year-old from Oslo who has been a sex worker for eight years.
On a recent nighttime visit to the centre of the Norwegian capital, only three prostitutes walked the snowy streets, in an area where there previously would have been women at every corner.
“Before, you would work until you made 4,000-5,000 kroner (600 to 750 dollars, 450 to 560 euros). Now you have to work all night and you earn only about 1,000-1,500 kroner,” Nadia told AFP as police patrols cruise by every few minutes.
Nadia, who like her colleagues did not want to give her last name, said one of her clients was caught after the law came into force.
“It was embarrassing because we were busy when the police came.
“I told the guy he should say I was feeling unwell and that he was driving me home. I stuck to the story but he spilled the beans immediately,” she said.
The law prohibits the buying of sex but not the sale, so the prostitute goes free.
At least 23 men have been arrested since the law came into force.
Of these, 20 accepted an on-the-spot fine of between 8,000 kroner (1,195 dollars, 898 euros) and 9,000 kroner. Three have refused to pay and will go to court.
The law also affects Norwegians who buy sex abroad, but as yet no one has been arrested for the crime.
There is as yet no official figure showing whether the law has had a real impact on demand or whether street prostitutes have shifted to the indoor scene. Police say it has had a chilling effect.