Street prostitution on the rise in Malmö

The number of women selling sex on the streets of Malmö is increasing in spite of the recent trend for soliciting to move off the streets and onto the internet.

Katarina Klostergaard, a social worker at Mika Malmö, a city-run support team that offers help to people who buy, sell or trade sex, told Swedish Radio News the sex trade has changed rapidly over the past few years.

“There used to be more Swedish girls. Many were addicts or had some sort of mental health problems. But we don’t see those anymore. They’re gone,” Klostergaard said.

The average age for women selling sex on the streets used to be from around 35 to 40, but that has now decreased.

“Today, a large share are Romanian women who are quite young. It’s hard to mention a specific age, but somewhere around 20 to 25 is the average,” Klostergaard said.

Mika Malmö keeps records of how many people are selling sex in the streets. Last year it encountered 47 women, up from 35 last year. This spring’s figures indicate that 2016 will see a further increase.

Voluntary prostitution is not an offence in Sweden, but buying sex is, and in some prostitution cases there is human trafficking involved. So far this year Mika Malmö has come across 30 women they suspected were victims of human trafficking, compared to 35 cases last year.

“We do have many more human trafficking cases than last year, so there is a tendency for this to increase, but not many cases lead to convictions. It’s too difficult to prove,” Klostergaard said.