More Norwegian men are likely to buy sex during the annual julebord (Christmas party) season than otherwise during the year, according to Oslo police working to combat human trafficking. Police are confronting men and asking them to realize that the vast majority of prostitutes in Oslo are not in the business voluntarily.
“It’s quite common that we catch them with their pants down,” one of the officers assigned to the Oslo Police District’s human trafficking group told state broadcaster NRK on Monday. It’s not illegal to sell sex in Norway, but it’s illegal to buy it, according to a law that even lawmakers have admitted is peculiar. Prostitutes’ customers can be fined NOK 25,000 (USD 2,900) if caught, and police have literally been following likely male customers and knocking on hotel room doors this autumn.
The police maintain that the vast majority of women who can still be found shivering on downtown Oslo street corners are victims of organized human traffickers. Their customers are generally Norwegian men who have had too much to drink at company parties: “The more alcohol folks drink, the easier it is for them to cross the line,” said one of the officers who weren’t identified. The men, police told NRK, are all ages and professions, often with good jobs, partners and families. In one recent case, NRK’s reporter tagged along with two plain-clothes police officers who witnessed what appeared to be an agreement struck between a woman from Nigeria and a Norwegian man, and followed them to a hotel. The woman was allowed to keep a negotiated fee of NOK 1,400 from the man and leave. The man was also fined NOK 25,000.
“We’ve put more resources into following up sex customers,” Thor Martin Elton, leader of the human trafficking group within the Oslo police, told NRK. Most of the prostitutes are women from Romania, Bulgaria and Albania, reported the police, along with transvestites from South America.