Swedes enlist Canadian’s novel in sex slavery fight

Gripped by his novel about sex slavery, Swedish campaigners have enlisted a Gothenburg-based Canadian to help fight human trafficking, writes Sanne Schim van der Loeff.

Swedes enlist Canadian's novel in sex slavery fight

When Canadian author Réal Laplaine saw photos of a six-year-old girl in Calcutta taking care of her one-year-old brother, he was shocked.

The result was a novel, “See Me Not”, which tells the fictional story of a 12-year-old girl sold into sexual slavery at the age of eight. An American student’s chance meeting with the girl prompts him to try to save her.

Having recently moved to Gothenburg, western Sweden, Laplaine was put in touch with a Swedish pressure group, Real Stars, which uses art to help raise awareness about sex trafficking.

Laplaine found himself drawn to Real Stars’ ongoing “Fair Sex” campaign for a “trafficking-free Europe”.

According to the group, “Fair Sex” is defined as “sex on equal terms and with mutual respect in all situations”. The group adds: “sex trafficking is the opposite of fair sex.”

Laplaine explains:

“One of the reasons I hooked up with Real Stars is because of their work within the EU,” the author tells The Local.

According to Laplaine, the market for sex trafficking “runs in the billions of dollars”, with countries in central and eastern Europe playing an increasingly prominent role.

Malin Roux, who helped found Real Stars in 2010, explains part of the reason for the recent boom in trafficking in Europe:

“After the fall of the Berlin Wall the growth in trafficking of girls from eastern countries has been enormous,” she says.

“Europe has the highest level of sex slaves per capita in the world.”

According to statistics from the European Union, there was a nearly 10-percent increase in the number of registered trafficking victims sold for sexual exploitation between 2008 and 2010.

“If more European countries established laws against the sex trade, sex trafficking would plummet all over the continent,” Roux explains.

“Imagine all the positive effects such an event would cause, for society and individuals alike.”

And with the EU’s fifth annual Anti-Trafficking Day taking place on Thursday, Real Stars enlisted Laplaine to participate in an event at Stockholm’s Modern Art Museum (Moderna Muséet) to raise awareness in Sweden of the issue.

“We organized the Anti-Trafficking Day event because we think the issue does not receive enough attention,” Roux tells The Local.

Laplaine’s book will feature prominently at the event in the hope of reaching a larger audience.

According to Roux, “hope and positivity” are key words at the event.

To successfully combat sex trafficking, she explains, people must believe it’s possible to bring traffickers to justice.

“We want to see different parts of society come together, to share and exchange ideas,” she says.

Roux hopes visitors leave thinking: “OK, I can do something about this.”

By attending, Laplaine hopes to promote “See Me Not” while at the same time boosting support for Real Stars.

Laplaine has agreed to donate part of the proceeds from the book to the group and hopes the partnership continues.

“I would like the book sales to go into the millions,” Laplaine says with a smile.

“If I can manage to sell a lot of books that will really help Real Stars’ campaign.”

Sanne Schim van der Loeff

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Novelist Stridsberg becomes first Swede to be nominated for Man Booker Prize

The nominees for the Man Booker International Prize were announced on Wednesday and for the first time ever the list included a Swedish author.

Novelist Stridsberg becomes first Swede to be nominated for Man Booker Prize
Novelist Sara Stridsberg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
Sara Stridsberg is one of 13 authors on this year’s longlist for the literary award. 
The Swedish author is nominated for ‘The Faculty of Dreams’, the English translation of her 2006 novel 'Drömfakulteten'. The translation was done by Deborah Bragan-Turner and is scheduled for widespread release on March 21st
The novel is a fictionalized account of the life of American feminist Valerie Solanas, who is best known for shooting Andy Warhol. The book was awarded the 2007 Nordic Council Literature Prize.  
In announcing this year’s competitors for “the finest works of translated fiction from around the world,” Bettany Hughes, the chair of the judging panel, said that the 13 books on the longlist “enrich our idea of what fiction can do”. 
“This was a year when writers plundered the archive, personal and political. That drive is represented in our longlist, but so too are surreal Chinese train journeys, absurdist approaches to war and suicide, and the traumas of spirit and flesh,” she said. 
The Man Booker International Prize is the global complement to the Man Booker Prize, which is awarded each year to the best English-language novel as deemed by a jury commissioned by the Booker Prize Foundation. The international edition of the prize has been around since 2005 and was originally awarded every second year to an author whose work is published in English. In 2016, the awarding of the prize was changed to an annual event and since then it has focused solely on works of fiction that have been translated into English and published in the UK and Ireland. 
The 13 books will be cut down to a shortlist of six books on April 9th and the eventual winner will receive £50,000. 
Stridsberg was one of several members to quit the Swedish Academy over a sexual harassment scandal that rocked the Swedish cultural world.