Criminalisation of buying sex does not scare away regular clients
Customs: Hundreds of Russian women may cross into Finland to sell sex
The recent government bill to ban all sex purchases apparently does not scare off those Finnish men who regularly buy sex services.
Helsingin Sanomat interviewed four well-to-do men in Northern Karelia, who all insisted that they would continue buying sex services even if it were criminalised. However, the men pointed out that they oppose criminal procurement rings and trafficking in humans.
The bill is currently being prepared by the Legal Affairs Committee. While hearing a number of experts, the Committee is awaiting a statement from the Constitutional Law Committee.
Finland's sex trade is largely centered in the Greater Helsinki area. However, it is not unknown in the provinces, either.
The Värtsilä Customs authorities estimate that some 800 to 1,200 Russian women visit the province of Eastern Finland on a regular basis through the Finnish border crossing at Niirala alone. It is possible that the purpose of these trips is the sale of sex services. The total number of these trips is 30,000 annually. On each trip the women carry the maximum amount of tobacco and alcohol they may bring into the country tax free.
All four men interviewed by Helsingin Sanomat are very wealthy. They say that they buy sex services two to three times a month. Annually, they spend approximately EUR 1,500 to 3,000 for these purchases.
The Russian prostitutes report that they visit Finland on business two to three times a month.
The local clientèle includes representatives of all levels of society - except for the police.
The women used by the interviewees come from the Republic of Karelia in Russia. The group involves about ten girls, aged 25 to 35, who have been visiting the same men for at least five years.
The buying of sex is not new to any of the men. At the beginning of the 1990s when the Värtsilä border crossing was first opened, the sex trade in the area was in the hands of Russian and Estonian criminal organisations who brought prostitutes into North Karelia from all over the former Soviet Union. However, about ten years ago, the sex trade changed. There is no pimping any more, and the trade takes place mostly among buyers and sellers who have met before.
Under the proposed law, the buyer of sex services would be subject to a fine, or up to six months in prison. An attempt to buy sex would be a crime as well.
At present there is only a ban on selling and buying sexual services in public places. Persons violating the ban can get fines.
In the enforcement of the proposed new law, the sale of sex in public places will remain illegal, while the purchase of sex services will be a crime everywhere, regardless of location.
According to the law, the definition of sex services includes "sexual intercourse or a similar sexual act". For the purposes of the law, the purchase of sex services includes also a promise of any form of compensation - not only money.
The buyer would be punished, even though he or she used sexual services that somebody else had given as a present.
Furthermore, in Finland the purchase of sexual services from a person under 18 years of age is a crime carrying a prison term of up to one year.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Purchase of sex services could soon lead to imprisonment (16.12.2005)
SALLI - United Sex Professionals of Finland