For a little country of only 5 million, Norwegians have a lot going on, especially when it comes to online sex- ads, where the Nordic nation is punching way above its weight. However, some commentators suggest that people traffickers are taking advantage of Norway’s digital leniency.
When it comes to sex ads, Norwegians are in a league of their own. According to a report by the Norwegian NGO Pro Sentret, specializing in assisting people engaged in prostitution, Norwegians have posted 818 ads on a popular Germany-headquartered escort site, eclipsing every other country.
For the sake of comparison, the Swedes account for 172 ads, followed by the Danes’ 43, the Finns’ 19, the Spaniards’ 25 and Poland’s 18, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK reported. This marked overrepresentation proved a tough nut to crack even for Pro Sentret’s seasoned experts.
“It’s hard for us to say why Norwegians use this page so incomparably more than in neighboring countries,” Camilla Hammergren of Pro Sentret told NRK.
At the same time, Pro Sentret’s report indicated an overall rise in sex sales taking place on the internet. The same adult website features numerous ads by Norwegian Thai massage parlors. Although creating a profile is free, publishing sex ads costs money.
“Judging by the market trends, it is reasonable to assume that the internet has taken over in terms of advertising prostitution services in Norway,” the report said.
Norwegian authorities previously attempted to regulate adult websites even in cases when servers are located outside the country. In 2016, the Norwegian parliament moved for a corresponding change in the Penal Code, which was ultimately rejected by the “blue” coalition.
While Norwegian legislation on prostitution, piracy and human trafficking effectively removed much of the crime from the streets, a great part of the more shady activities moved online, Jan Bøhler of the Labor Party, who lobbied the proposal, argued.
“The police have shown us concrete examples where such webpages have been used by pimps and people involved in human trafficking. It is therefore reasonable to believe that many of those who are active on such sites are not necessarily acting on their own accord,” Bøhler told NRK, venturing that this business has shifted to the web to a greater extent in Norway, compared with its neighbors.
According to Bøhler, it was therefore only natural for the Labor Party, currently in opposition, to follow-up on the bill.
Andrès Lekanger of the Sex Workers’ Interest Organization in Norway (PION) also confirmed the prevalence of sex being sold online. For him, however, it was not necessarily a bad development. According to Lekanger, the internet has allowed sex workers the convenience of anonymity and increased safety, as they can check customers beforehand and make a risk assessment before actually meeting them.