Roughly ten times.
That is how many times 15-year-old Alexandra Laine has been approached by a man offering to buy her intoxicants in exchange for sexual favours. The first time she was approached, Laine was no older than 13.
“I can get you cigarettes, if you give it up,” goes the most common proposition.
Laine says that the majority of men who have approached her with such propositions were over 50-year-old strangers. “They aren't necessarily even drunk. I then try to tell them politely that I'm not interested or leave,” she adds.
Her friend Vera Vekkeli nods her head in approval and admits that although she knows that such propositions are wrong she rarely tells about them to anyone. “Something should be done about it, such as contact the police immediately. The suggestions don't feel nice,” she says.
Helsingin Sanomat reported already in 2008 that the incidence of men offering teenagers alcohol and gifts in exchange for sex is on the increase, highlighting that the cases reported to the authorities are likely to only be the tip of the iceberg. In fact, young people are approached with such propositions at public places all the time.
More recently, YLE wrote about the phenomenon last week.
Mauri Mujunen of Children of the Station says that he has heard of such incidents as part of his work as the executive director of the youth café Walkers. “Such enquiries surely take place nearly every single weekend. It's mainly men who approach girls, but women are also active and men also approach boys,” he says.
Typically, such incidents take place in shopping centres or at railway stations.
Pentti Tarvonen, a senior police constable at the crime prevention unit in central Helsinki, confirms that such incidents are on the rise. Tarvonen reminds that approaching minors with the intention of paying for sexual favours is invariably an offence.
In the field, however, the police only come across few such incidents because only a handful of them are reported to the authorities. “The best option is to contact us. You can also take a photo of the proposer if it's safe and possible or phone the emergency response centre. The nearest police patrol would go after the perpetrator immediately,” Tarvonen says.
Virve Rissanen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Photo: Sami Kilpiö / HS