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Minna Huovinen, director of Pro Centre Finland, says the economic recession has influenced the numbers of people travelling to Finland to work in the sex industry.Police and support groups say street prostitution is decreasing, but there is an increase in numbers of foreign sex-workers.

THE number of women working as prostitutes from countries other than Finland has greatly increased over the past few years, says Pro Centre Finland (Pro-tukipiste ry) – a non-profit organisation which gives advice and assistance to individuals involved in sex work.

Women from Russia, Estonia, Cuba, Brazil, Nigeria, Romania and dozens of other countries are engaged in the sex industry in Finland, though the number of street prostitutes has declined, according to Pro Centre director Minna Huovinen. She says the economic situation may be forcing people into the sex industry.

It is believed there may be up to 50 different nationalities involved in sex work at any one time. Police agree that the recession may be fuelling the influx of migrant sex workers into Finland, as Inspector Petri Rainiala of the Helsinki Police Department explains. “If the economic situation in Central Europe is tight, it may be that clients for the sex trade there become less available. Then there are women from African backgrounds who have come to Europe in many different ways and have received a residence permit in the EU,” Rainiala says.

The facts

• Prostitution in Finland is basically legal.

• The buying of sexual services from a victim of pimping (i.e. procuring or facilitating prostitution) or human trafficking is illegal.

• A person from outside the EU may be refused entry to Finland if it is suspected that he/she may be selling sexual services.

• Brothels cannot be established in Finland, as this is contrary to the laws on procuring or facilitating prostitution.

• The buying or selling of sexual services involving persons under 18 years of age is illegal.

• The buying or selling of sexual services in public places (i.e. street prostitution) is illegal.

• Paying for sexual services is illegal in Sweden, Norway and Iceland.

• According to Pro Centre Finland (Pro-tukipiste ry) the number of sex-workers helped by the organisation every year is in the region of 1,500-2,000, and the number of regular clients is around 10,000.

 

Support is available

• Pro Centre Finland (Pro-tukipiste ry) is a registered non-profit organisation that supports and promotes the civil and human rights of individuals involved in sex work.

• They offer professional low threshold social support, health care services and legal advice for sex workers in the Helsinki and Tampere regions.

• The services are free of charge and anonymous, and politically and religiously unaffiliated. 

• As a nation-wide expert organisation, Pro Centre also offers consultation on issues concerning prostitution, sex work and human trafficking.

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DAVID DUNNE
HELSINKI TIMES
LEHTIKUVA - HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA

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