The City of Reykjavík held a workshop on sex trafficking on Friday, RÚV reports. The workshop brought together representatives from all the major hotel chains in the city, as well as law enforcement officials and representatives from the Kvennathvarfið women‘s shelter and the Women of Multicultural Ethnicity Network (W.O.M.E.N) to discuss growing concerns about sex trafficking in Iceland and to come up with meaningful ways to combat it.
The workshop was the first step in an initiative of the city’s committee for violence prevention. Malin Roux Johansson, the cofounder and director of Swedish Human Rights NGO Realstars, gave a presentation which focused on deterring the buyers of sexual services, rather than on sex workers or victims of sex trafficking who have been compelled into prostitution.
“If there weren’t sex buyers, there wouldn’t be a sex market or human trafficking,” Malin said. “We address this through a positive message. Mutual sex, sex on an equal footing. We think that we need to get people on our sides with a positive message.”
One of the current problems being addressed in Iceland is that people are unsure of how or where to report cases of suspected sex trafficking. This is something that needs to be rectified quickly, says Malin. “It is so important that [people] know what action they should take if they become aware of something suspicious related to prostitution or the purchasing of sexual services,” says Malin.
At the workshop, law enforcement officials said that often a third party brings in people who sell sexual services in Iceland for a few days or weeks at a hotel or rented apartment. Participants in Friday workshop agreed about the importance of bringing an end to this model.