“Harder punishments needed” for men who use sex slaves

Men who have sex with women forced into prostitution should be prosecuted for rape, the Center Party has proposed.

Under the current system in Sweden, men who buy sex from sex slaves are charged with paying for sexual services, the same charge faced by those who buy sex from women who have become prostitutes of their own free will.

Johan Linander, the Center Party’s justice spokesman, argues in a report released on Monday that anyone who pays to have sex with a woman who is obviously being held by force should be considered to have raped her.

“If one man pays another man who then unlocks a door to a woman, it should be clear what is happening,” says Linander.

Linander’s report suggests a range of other measures to tackle human traficking. It argues that there should be more special units in Swedish police forces for dealing with the problem. Temporary projects set up in Uppsala and Skåne are to be wound down in September.

The report says that the units that already exist in Stockholm and Västra Götaland have followed up more reported crimes that non-specialised units would have done.

Another measure proposed in the report is to offer permanent residency to former sex slaves.

Women who are rescued from forced prostitution are currently often given only temporary residence permits, in order to enable them to testify at the trials of their abusers. Linander told The Local that this was “a cynical policy, mainly for Sweden’s benefit,” rather than for the benefit of the victims.

“Offering them permanent residency in Sweden would help many women avoid being subjected to violence in their home countries by the people that forced them here in the first place,” he said.

Linander says that many of the measures needed to deal with human traficking need to be decided at a European or international level. But he says that reform of the way that police authorities tackle the issue could take place without legislation.

The Center Party is part of a centre-right alliance with the Moderate, Liberal and Christian Democratic parties. Linander says that his “strong arguments” will persuade MPs in the other parties of the sense of his proposals.