Selling sex in Norway is not punishable, and many women come here to work as prostitutes.
The police have discovered a new pattern for foreign prostitutes. Many write in their advertisements that they are from Ukraine.
– The women usually do not disclose their nationality. I noticed a change there, says Sindre Kleppe, who is head of investigations for human trafficking in the Sør-Aust police district.
The police hope that Norwegian men are not actively looking for Ukrainian prostitutes in connection with the war.
– In that case, it is cynical, but there is nothing that surprises us anymore, says Lena Reif, who is head of intelligence and investigation in the Sør-Aust police district.
Head of investigations, Sindre Kleppe, is often in contact with prostitutes in connection with human trafficking.
Several people he has spoken to in recent months do not have Ukrainian passports, even though they advertise themselves as Ukrainians on the internet.
The women told the police that they get more customers by saying they come from there.
– They have passports from Lithuania, Moldova and Spain, among others. We have also seen prostitutes from Russia who pretended to be from Ukraine.
On one of the largest websites where prostitutes post advertisements, no one says they come from Russia.
Care and shame
Sexologist Live Mehlum says the war is most likely the reason why more prostitutes look like they come from Ukraine.
Mehlum has previously been a project manager in the organization Reform, which is a resource center for men. There she spoke to around 500 men who have bought sex.
– There is a lot of shame associated with buying sex. So if a man buys sex from a Ukrainian woman, it can help to justify the purchase, and reduce the bad feeling surrounding the purchase.
Mehlum points out that the men who buy sex can quickly take on a caring role when dealing with Ukrainian prostitutes.
– They probably think that these women are in a difficult situation, and that they have experienced a lot of bad things. In addition, it may be that this masculine caring gene in the man is awakened a little, says Mehlum.
According to the sexologist, 13 percent of Norwegian men have bought sex once in their life. The police warn, and remind that buying sex in Norway is punishable by fines of at least NOK 25,000.
The investigators know that many of these women do not work voluntarily as prostitutes, and that they are controlled by professional networks.
This summer, such a network was rolled out in Oslo, when the police campaigned against a secret brothel.
Those who buy sex help to keep these professional networks going. Lena Reif in the police emphasizes that you do not help the women by buying sex from them.
– You can contribute positively in completely different ways than buying sex from Ukrainian women. We do not know what situation these women are in, and it is a vulnerable group, says Reif.
Sexologist Mehlum says there is help for men who want to stop buying sex.
– The most important thing is that you talk to someone.