Norway criminalises paying for sex
The Norwegian Parliament has voted in favour of making payment for sexual acts a criminal offence in order to protect vulnerable women and children. The law was passed with 44 votes in favour and 28 against and will come into effect on 1 January 2009.
The legislation, inspired by the success of neighbouring Sweden, which criminalised the purchasing of sex in 1999, is more robust than that of its neighbour, setting a new pace for prostitution law reform.
Designed to reduce trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation in Norway, the legislation has been welcomed by many Norwegian groups working in the field.
Norway is a country of destination for trafficking in women and children. The majority of trafficking victims come via the Baltic states, other central and eastern European countries, and Russia; as well as from Latin America and Thailand. Recently Norwegian government authorities have expressed their awareness of the growing problem of trafficking into the country.
In the UK the Home Office recently announced similar changes to British prostitution law, introducing the offence of paying for sex with someone who is controlled for gain along with giving new powers to police to close down premises where sexual exploitation is taking place.
Nola Leach, CARE Chief Executive, says, ‘We are encouraged that the Government is tackling the demand for trafficking and prostitution. Although this is a positive step forward we are concerned that anything less than a blanket ban on payment for sex (as in Norway) will not go far enough to protect vulnerable people’.