Swedish law fails to curb prostitution

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Subject: Swedish law fails to curb prostitution
From: John Davies (JDavies@tesco.net)
Date: Mon Jul 05 1999 - 14:26:00 EDT

Swedish law fails to curb prostitution

By Belinda Goldsmith

STOCKHOLM, July 5 (Reuters) - A new Swedish law making it illegal to buy
sex has failed to scare prostitutes or their clients off the streets and is
actually protecting pimps, police said on Monday.

Six months after the law came into force, the number of prostitutes and
clients was back to normal in the three main cities -- Stockholm,
Gothenburg and Malmo.

``The law has been toothless. It is almost impossible to charge anyone for
buying sex,'' police spokesman Lars-Gunnar Bakemyr told the TT news agency.

The law was introduced in January to stem an influx of eastern European
women coming to Sweden for the sex trade. But so far only two men have been
charged with buying sexual services.

One of these, a father of two from Malmo, went to court but was not
convicted because both he and the prostitute said they had not entered into
any agreement.

``It's really frustrating that such an admission can't be made to hold
up,'' said Backemyr, following a report by Sweden's National Criminal
Police evaluating the new law.

The second man, from Gothenburg, was fined 12,000 crowns ($1,400). The
offence can carry a six-month jail sentence.

Police said at the start of the year there had been a fall in sex trade on
the street, probably due to extra police diligence and interest from local
and international media.

But prostitution in hotels and restaurants has increased, along with the
selling of sex over the Internet.

The National Criminal Police report said Sweden's sex trade was in danger
of becoming more violent in the future, as the law in fact encouraged more
women to be brought in from overseas.

The report, presented to the government, said the new law made it harder to
expose prostitution as clients were not willing to come forward to give
evidence against pimps.

Elisabeth Pettersson, a social worker involved in a group working with
prostitution in Gothenburg, said about two-thirds of the prostitution in
Sweden was already behind closed doors.

Sweden, with a population of 8.9 million, is estimated to have about 2,500
prostitutes but the sex trade is barely visible. Most prostitutes work from
massage parlours, escort agencies or private apartments and streetwalking
is restricted to a few small areas of cities.

11:00 07-05-99

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

"Love is the law, love under will."
-Ben Burch

Necessity is the excuse for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of the tyrant and the creed of the slave. -- William Pitt, 1763

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