Members of Denmark's coalition government still plan to keep criminalisation as the backbone of any new laws regarding the nation's sex trade, despite a report from Norway showing that making it illegal to buy sex in that country in 2009 has not resulted
in a decrease the number of sex workers or an improvement in their quality of life. The report, commissioned by the city of Oslo, also showed that since it became illegal to purchase sexual services, sex trade workers have been the victims of more
The facts in the report have not deterred the parliamentary group that is in the process of proposing a similar ban here. The group remains focused on criminalising the sex for hire business.
The current situation is not
tolerable, MP Pernille Vigs Bagge (Socialistisk Folkeparti) told public broadcaster DR. Denmark has become a Mecca for sex because other countries like Norway, Sweden and even Lithuania have made it illegal to buy sex.
Trine Bramsen (Socialdemokraterne) maintained that criminalisation was the right thing to do:
Different studies make different claims about what women believe. This study makes a claim of its own, but of course
criminalising has been beneficial in Norway because it has sent a strong signal to the people who would buy it.
A recent survey has revealed that Denmark's residents are strongly opposed to a ban on prostitution.
The news comes this week via a new study commissioned by the Jyllands Posten news agency and conducted by Ramboll Analyse/Danmark. Results from
the survey revealed an overwhelming majority of Danes think such a ban would only bring additional danger for those working within the sex industry.
Figures showed that 67% of respondents were against a prostitution ban, whilst only around 20%
said they would be in favour of such legislation.
Despite the findings, some Danish lawmakers predictably continue to push for changes to legislation. Rasmus Horn Langhoff of the Socialdemokraterne party said in an interview with Jyllands Posten:
I agree that ratifying a ban will take a lot of work, but we must send a clear message that it is not okay to buy sex because of how negative it is for the women.
However, officials from the
Gadejuristen (the Street Lawyer) law agency, which works with sex workers on a regular basis, said that a ban would only make the current situation worse. Lawyer Nanna Gottfredsen said on behalf of the firm:
completely wrong if you think that you can solve serious social issues by criminalising them. Doing this will only worsen the situation. You push the sex workers further into a grey zone. They will hide themselves and their activities and social workers
will no longer be able to contact those in need of help.
Nearly one in six Danish men have admitted that they have paid for sex on at least one occasion in their lives.
This means that 16% of males in the country, between 260,000 and 285,000 people, have been a sex customer at some stage. 30% of men say
they have visited a prostitute just once, while 9% admitted to paying for sex more than 50 times. On average, men who have paid for sex visit their first prostitute between the age of 24 and 25.
There are around 3,200 prostitutes working in
Denmark, with about half of them said to be immigrants.
57% of Danes are against banning prostitution, while 25% are of the opinion that it should be illegal. When comparing the opinion of Danish men and women, more women support a ban. However,
around 70% of those questioned did not feel a ban would make any difference.