published at Feminist Current February 8, 2013
Samantha Berg elaborates on Pro Sentret’s research into violence against prostituted women under the Nordic model.
The third page of Pro Sentret’s Dangerous Liaisons report lays out the mission statement for the 2012 investigation:
“The purpose is to evaluate whether the women are more exposed to violence after the introduction of the law.”
The methodology of choice was a comparison of 2007/08 numbers with new 20012 numbers:
“The design of the questionnaire was approximately the
same as the questionnaire that was used in 2007/2008, albeit perhaps
Comparable numbers were compared. Murder attempts weren’t asked about
in 2007/08 so those numbers are broken down for race and indoor/outdoor
but left off the graph comparing dates.
When I noticed the potential discrepancy between years in
prostitution before and after the law change I played the responsible
journalist and emailed Pro Sentret. The unspeakably high mortality rate
in prostitution reduces “career” longevity by a fair degree (aka women
don’t last long), and the notorious influx of young foreigners from
poverty-stricken countries made me suspect the pre-2007/08 average time
in prostitution wouldn’t have been many years.
Pro Sentret’s senior officer Camilla Hammergren’s replied that the
data hasn’t been translated into English and added, “The women were
asked how long they had been in prostitution. The data/results were not
given room in the report must mean they gave no significant findings
regarding vulnerability.” She also suggested author Ulla Bjorndahl might
offer more information when she returns from personal leave in late
Provide me with the translated raw data and I’ll read every speck.
Berg blood is valkyrie blood and I’m a linguist with training in
Germanic languages, so if anyone wants to pay for the educational
materials and give me a few weeks I’ll read it in Norwegian. Until then,
I’m taking the Dangerous Liaisons report on its own terms. Pro Sentret
set the board, they put down the pieces, and they explained the rules
according to them. The Nordic model won the game.
If you consider the methodology too sketchy to trust, all right. The report is dead to you, you can stop reading now, goodbye.
For the rest I have another game, still on Pro Sentret’s board and
using their pieces, but played by the rules of those who are trying to
discredit the research.
Imagine that the average time in prostitution before 2007/08 is
triple the three year research window since, nine years prior to three
years post. As intended, that generous hypothetical would lessen the
impact of the very dramatic reductions in rape, pimp violence, and
client violence currently reported.
Here’s the home viewer participation portion of the game; how does
that hypothetical affect the 150% leap in biting and 167% increase in
hair pulling since 2007/08?
Pardon the intemperance, but I believe my theory explaining the
already formidable rise in biting and hair pulling was perfect. Add up
an imaginary nine years of pre-2007/08 biting and hair pulling and set
them next to what men did in the last three years to see a downright
unholy rise in these very specific violations.
Contemplate your answer while we advance to the second level: quotes!
No numbers allowed, this is the round where proof that criminalizing
punters is effective scores big points on the strength of words and
Meghan Murphy recently wrote,
“The sad truth is that, if buying sex is legal, the police aren’t
likely to start going after or charging johns who rape and abuse
prostitutes on their own accord. We know this. We know the police have
been ignoring violence against prostituted women, particularly those who
are poor and racialized, for years.”
We do know, and thanks to Pro Sentret’s report we also know:
“Most of the women who said they would
seek help to protect against violence said that they called or
threatened to call the police when they found themselves in a dangerous
or threatening situation. This would often scare the customers, or others, who were acting threatening/violent away.”
Remember my email to Camilla Hammergren? I had included a request for
clarification on ‘most’ and ‘often’ in numbers because I’m thorough
like that, but honestly it doesn’t matter. Putting the power of police
in prostituted women’s hands is the theory behind the Nordic model and
We also know there were no reports of police committing any kind of
violence whatsoever against prostituted women in the 2012 research,
which is a card I can play this round because “nothing” isn’t a number.
My final hand from Pro Sentret’s deck:
“A fairly large amount of the women said that there was
little they could do to protect themselves against violence. The reason
they gave for this was usually that they already did what they could,
and that prostitution was so risky that it was impossible to protect
yourself against violence. Some of the women who said there was little
they could do, also said the only thing they might be able to do was
Let’s play again soon.
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