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Finnish sex trade tops 100 million euros

More than 100 million euros flow through the Finnish sex trade annually, according to Statistics Finland.

Seksityöntekijä ja asiakas.
Last year Yle found that minors were a part of Finland’s growing 'sugar dating' scene. Image: AOP

Hundreds of people sell sex every single day in Finland. The selling and buying of sex is legal, unless the trade involves pimping or victims of human trafficking.

Earlier this week news emerged that three Finns were suspected of pimping and money laundering in Spain. The men are suspected of having laundered up to 40 million euros gained from criminal activities since 2010.

EU criminal justice agency Eurojust said the operation included human trafficking in a scheme bringing women, mostly from Nigeria, to Finland and Sweden to work as prostitutes.

Detective sergeant Kenneth Eriksson from the Helsinki Police Department said the anonymity of the internet makes it difficult to catch pimps, who can easily manage prostitutes from outside of Finland.

"It's very rare for a pimp to accompany a prostitute. Pimps arrange apartments for girls online and a third party manages contact between the pimp and girls,” Eriksson said, adding that this type of arrangement can make it impossible for officials to determine if someone is selling sex against their will or not.

Sex-buying ban

To combat trafficking, Sweden enacted a total sex purchase ban twenty years ago.

“Sweden banned the buying of sex in 1999. The law has significantly helped law enforcement investigate trafficking cases. It has also sent the message that it’s not worthwhile to practice trafficking or pimping in Sweden,” said law professor Johanna Niemi of Turku University.

But the reality may not be so simple, according to Jaana Kauppinen, executive manager of Pro-tukipiste, an NGO that works with sex and erotica workers as well as victims of human trafficking.

She said that further criminalising the purchase of sex could make it more difficult for human trafficking victims to come forward as they, too, would be seen as engaging in criminal activity.

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