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Trafficking network lures women to Gothenburg

Linda Genborg 2011-07-11

The police in Gothenburg are investigating a record-sized trafficking case with its base in Romania. Nine pimps are suspected of having lured up to 25 young Romanian women to come to Gothenburg and sell sex.

- In some cases they have lured them with other jobs, like cleaning jobs. Some of the women have known that they were going to Sweden to sell sex, but have been lured thinking that they would get to keep a large amount of the money, says the prosecutor Thomas Eliasson to GP.

The women charge around 300 to 500 kronor per occasion, and the police believe they get to keep about a tenth of what they earn. They sleep on mattresses in second hand apartments in eastern Gothenburg, often sharing apartments with the men that brought them here.

The prosecutor describes it as one of the largest trafficking cases in Sweden ever. It is also believed that the network has contacts in Romania.

- There are people active in Romania. People who receive money and take part in organising the activity. The recruitment of women takes place there and those who take part in that activity also commit criminal offences, says Thomas Eliasson to GP.

The women who sell sex are important witnesses for the investigation. But GP reports that only days after the women have assisted the police with information, those without residency are sent back to Romania. So far at least eight women have been deported.

This has sparked criticism from Angela Beausang, chairwoman of ROKS, the national organisation for women and young women's shelters in Sweden. She thinks Sweden should take greater responsibility for the women.

- It is not dignified of Sweden to send away the women in this way. These are women who are completely without protection and who are subjected to threats, violence and poverty. We should afford to help them, she told GP.

There is support in the law to deport people who make a living through prostitution. The reason is that prostitution is seen as a "dishonest way to support oneself". This is despite the fact that selling sex is not illegal in Sweden.

- I wish this would change. These are women who should be given the status as victims of crime, and who should be treated thereafter. Then they would get the right to legal representation in an eventual trial, and they would have the right to receive damages if their pimps are sentenced, says Angela Beausang, to GP.

The view of what can be considered dishonest ways to support oneself may be changing. Recently the county of Stockholm received serious criticism from the Parliamentary Ombudsman for deporting beggars. The deportations were founded on that the beggars were supporting themselves dishonestly - despite that begging is legal in Sweden.

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