Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Danish Social Democrats want to criminalise sex purchases

COPENHAGEN — Denmark's opposition Social Democrats are seeking to turn the purchase of sexual services into a criminal offence but the act of providing such services will not be illegal, the party said.

The Social Democrats will propose a bill in parliament on the matter, following in the footsteps of neighbouring Sweden which adopted such a law in 1999, party spokeswoman Mette Frederiksen said.

According to the daily Politiken, the governing Conservatives and the Christian Democrats support the Social Democrats' proposal.

Frederiksen said Denmark had experienced an alarming rise in prostitution and pornography, and called for "a change of attitude in society".

She said the fight against prostitution was "not only a social one, but also cultural."

A ban would change men's attitudes and behaviour, because "it is no longer the fat, the old and the dirty guys who go to prostitutes but all other groups in society as well".

A Conservative spokeswoman, Helle Sjelle, said she was in favour of the proposal, but said she wanted to examine studies conducted in Sweden since the law was adopted to determine whether prostitution had actually declined.

In Sweden's third-largest city Malmoe, near the border with Denmark, police have mixed reactions to the new law.

"The law has led to a 30 percent drop in prostitutes on the streets, and chased away the 'normal men' from the streets. But it has not dissuaded the 'sickos' from contacting prostitutes," said Malmoe police inspector Christer Thulin, in charge of prostitution matters.

"It has become dangerous for the prostitutes who are no longer able to select their clients, and who are increasingly the victims of violence," he added.

The Swedish law has also led "importers of Asian and eastern European prostitutes to turn their backs on the Swedish market, choosing instead Denmark or Finland," he said.

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Created: September 20, 2002
Last modified: September 21, 2002
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