The level of foreign prostitution has risen back to those last seen prior to the Norwegian government’s implementation of a ban on purchasing sexual services. The public broadcaster NRK has revealed that statistics compiled by the Oslo Pro Centre show that prostitution figures in Oslo are now comparable to those of two years ago. The ban on sexual service purchasing has been in force for nearly one year.
The Oslo Pro Centre is a national organisation that studies information relative to prostitution as well as a resource centre which provides social and health services for both men and women involved in the prostitution industry. Liv Jessen, head of the Pro Centre, has expressed surprise at the recent increase in numbers – including the fact that a high number are from Nigeria – as reported in The Norway Post.
Once renowned for legal prostitution, Norway enacted legislation at the end of 2008 that meant any man caught soliciting sexual favours could face a prison term of up to six months and possible fines. The effect was immediate, as most sex workers disappeared from public streets almost at once. The law forbids the buying of sex but not the selling, meaning prostitutes are not prosecuted but rather face an almost impossible task of finding a client. The ban also was applied to Norwegian men travelling abroad, though as yet no arrests have been made.
The Pro Centre was founded in 1983 under the guidance of the Municipality of Oslo and is funded by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. The Centre’s primary aims are to provide support and advice to industry workers but they also operate a free healthcare service focussing on reproductive and sexual health.