|Buying sex to be criminalized in Norway - law will apply inside Norway and to Norwegian residents when they are visiting other countries.|
| [29.12.2008, 06:26pm, Mon. GMT]|
|Norway's government proposed a new law that would make purchasing sex a criminal act punishable with up to six months behind bars. "People are not merchandise," Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget said in a statement. "By criminalizing the purchase of sexual favors, Norway will become less attractive in the eyes of human traffickers," he added. The proposed law would outlaw the buying of sex, but not the sale. Procuring, or "pimping", and human trafficking are already illegal. |
It targets all types of sexual favors in return for all forms of compensation.
Once the draft law has been adopted by parliament, where the center-left coalition government holds a majority, prostitutes' customers will be slapped with fines proportionate to their revenues, be sentenced to up to six months in prison, or face both.
In extreme cases, especially when the person providing sexual services is a minor, the prison term can stretch up to three years.
The government said last July it was planning to draft the new law.
The plan drew protests at the time from prostitutes' support groups claiming it would make sex workers more reliant on pimps to get customers and would force them to work in more secluded places, making them more vulnerable to rape and attack by clients.
Storberget however insisted the law "should not result in a worsening of prostitutes' situation."
"The government has launched several initiatives to help as many people as possible to get out of prostitution," he said.
The draft law is modeled on legislation passed in 1999 in neighboring Sweden. In 2006, Finland also made it illegal to purchase sexual services from prostitutes considered victims of human trafficking.