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Iceland Mag

Crime

With booming tourism comes growing prostitution

By Staff

  • A new and growing law enforcement problem The Metropolitan Police recently formed a task force to investigate and attack prostitution and human trafficking. Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson

According to the Metropolitan Police prostitution is a growing industry in Reykjavík, largely due to growing tourism. This growing industry is primarily operated online, through websites that advertise escort services or through social media, including Facebook. Most of the women are foreign, and police suspects they are victims of international prostitution rings which ship them from one country to the next, stopping only for a very brief time in each city.

Bachelor parties and tourism bring prostitution
“All of a sudden Reykjavík has become a hotspot for things like bachelor parties, and with that we see a growing demand for prostitution,” Snorri Birgisson, with the Metropolitan Police told the local newspaper Morgunblaðið. According to the sources of the Police the hourly rate is between 35,000 to 50,000 ISK (280-400 USD/250-360 EUR). The money is then shipped out of the country with wire services.

According to Icelandic law prostitution is not illegal, but buying the services of a prostitute or profiting from prostitution is. In other words: Prostitutes are treated as victims of human trafficking and are not punished by law, while pimps and johns are arrested. However, no arrests have been made for several years. The last large scale investigation took place in 2013, and according to Snorri no major cases are currently under investigation.

Four to five international websites offer prostitution in Iceland
According to Morgunblaðið there are four to five websites which have been used to advertise prostitution in Reykjavík. One of these pages lists 63 prostitutes in Reykjavík, further 3 in Hafnarfjörður, a suburban municipality of Reykjavík and 1 in Reykjanes, where the Keflavík International Airport is located. Another page has 110 advertisements for Reykjavík and 9 for Hafnarfjörður.

Snorri told Morgunblaðið that the actual number was most likely lower. “Even if these are all registered in Iceland, there are perhaps only ten who are actually in the country. When they come back to the country their advertisement is renewed and it then jumps to the top of the list.” Many advertisements are multiple listings from the same person.

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