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Below we have answered some of the questions that we are most commonly asked about prostitution, as we believe that many people may be interested in our replies. In Norway it is legal to sell sex. However, it is illegal to buy sex. It is also illegal to advertise sexual services, or to profit from other people selling sex pimping and running a brothel. We do know roughly how many people offer sexual services on the streets: The biggest market is Oslo, but street prostitution is also evident in Stavanger and Bergen.
It is harder to estimate the number of people who sell sex from flats, massage parlours and so on. In , we counted approximately 1, people selling sex through internet advertisements , and we were in contact with 1, people who sold or had sold sex. In , Pro Sentret were in contact with people. Is it harmful to sell sex? There is a strong social stigma to selling sex, which means that many people end up living a kind of double life.
For some people, the secrecy, lies and loneliness that go with that double life are harmful. They feel that they are selling a service. Still, in our culture sexuality is strongly linked to love, so many people find it difficult to be in a relationship after they have sold sexual services.
One particular problem is that they are ashamed to talk about part of their past. Many female sex workers suffer physical violence at the hands of their customers. Others have pimps who use violence and threats to force them to sell sex. The vast majority of people who buy sex are men, including the customers of male prostitutes. However, women, heterosexuals, homosexuals and couples all buy sex. Scandinavian research has found that around one in eight men in the region reports having bought sex.
Most of those men have only bought sex a few times, mostly when they were travelling abroad. Different customers give different reasons for buying sex. However, there is no evidence of widespread child and youth prostitution in Norway. It is important to remember that the word prostitution is not really applicable in the case of children. There are many grey areas, ranging from sexual experimentation at one end of the scale to child abuse at the other end.