One in four buyers of sex in Estonia comes from Finland
Questionnaire brings responses from 400 Estonian sex workers
One in four buyers of sex services in Estonia are Finns, according to an extensive survey released on Thursday.
About 400 prostitutes in different parts of Estonia responded to the questionnaire arranged by the European Union equality project Equal last autumn.
Finns were overwhelmingly the largest group of foreign customers, coming right after local men.
The criminalisation of sex purchases in Sweden has not led to a flood of sex tourism from Sweden to Estonia; Swedes account for only two percent of customers in Estonia’s commercial sex business.
In previous surveys, the proportion of Finns has been estimated as being larger than the findings of the most recent survey indicate.
The previous survey, in 2002, involved responses from Estonian police.
"In five years the clientele has changed", says sociologist Helve Kase of the Estonian research institute which conducted the survey.
"The other alternative is that the police had incorrect information", Kase says.
According to sex service providers, more than half of buyers were middle-aged married Estonian men. They say that Estonian police also visit brothels as customers. They also mention groups of British bachelors as a separate category. Finns were not mentioned as typically taking part in arranged group visits to brothels.
The most typical customers were Estonian married men and local Russians.
Estonia has an estimated 3,000 professional prostitutes, mostly poorly-educated women between the ages of 20 and 30. Seven percent of those responding to the questionnaire were underage.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Estonian attitudes towards sex buyers are tightening (10.3.2006)