A 34-year-old businessman living in Oslo has been indicted on charges he literally bought a 13-year-old girl at a bar in Thailand in 2008. Prosecutors claim he sexually assaulted her for several years, also after she became pregnant with his child at an age of 14.
“This is a serious case,” state prosecutor Asbjørg Lykkjen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday. “The defendant has traveled regularly to a country where the sex industry is driven by poverty, where families often have no other choice than to use their own children as objects in the industry.”
Affluent men exploiting poor children
It’s the latest in a series of cases involving affluent Norwegian men who travel to poor countries, often in Asia, to obtain a variety of sexual services. Many, police say, are pedophiles who exploit poor children. NRK also recently revealed how a Norwegian man in Bergen had been exploiting children in the Philippines for years.
The defendant in this case is originally a Swedish citizen who’s been living and working in Norway and therefore indicted under Norwegian law after local authorities cooperated with authorities in Thailand. The man has denied criminal liability but NRK reported that his defense attorney wouldn’t comment on the case or on how her client has reacted to the charges against him.
Prosecutors say he bought the girl for the equivalent of NOK 70 (USD 8.40). She came from a poor rural village, didn’t speak a word of English, was said to be age 16 and had started working as a dancer and prostitute in a bar on the popular holiday island of Koh Samui. The man from Oslo allegedly was her first customer.
The girl has claimed he took her to at least one other island in the area, checked them into a hotel and assaulted her repeatedly. His trips to Thailand and his assaults continued until 2011, also after she became pregnant when she was 14. Police claim that DNA tests have shown her child to be the Oslo man’s daughter. He allegedly has met her several times and sent around NOK 1,000 (USD 120) a month in child support.
Halldis Winje, the Norwegian attorney appointed to represent the girl, told NRK that the case portrays a “typical picture” of how affluent western men can exploit “the poverty-stricken world.” In addition to the criminal charges filed against the man, Winje is seeking compensation on behalf of the girl and her family.
NRK reported that the man was arrested almost by coincidence when he was caught in a narcotics seizure and police also raided his home. There they found photographic material showing sexual assaults on children, and photos of the girl in Thailand. In cooperation with police in Thailand, Norwegian investigators found the girl and determined her age. The defendant had also been found in possession of 51 videos of assaults on children two years earlier, but the case had been dropped for lack of evidence that the material actually belonged to him.
The case against him is due to come up in an Oslo court this fall. He faces a 10-year-jail term if convicted.