Spending 1.5 Million Euros On Thai Women

New cases of pimping under investigation in Lahti and Turku. The situation with Finland’s Thai masseuses has not really changed over the past year, wrtes the Finnish newspaper Sanomat.
      Finland has received EUR 1.5 million from the EU for the purpose of supporting the women from Thailand in their adaptation to living in Finland. The allowances made available for this purpose can now be applied for, for example, by local authorities and organisations. The decisions regarding the allocation of the funds will be made in January.
     The most help needed by the Thai women is in learning the language and becoming employed, explains unit head Minna Huovinen of Pro-tukipiste, a registered non-profit organisation, which supports and promotes the civil and human rights of individuals involved in sex work.
      Last autumn Pro-tukipiste conducted a small-scale survey into the Thai women’s situation in Finland.
      According to Huovinen, the women’s problems often emerge only after they have lived in Finland for several years. “The naturalisation efforts prescribed by law only cover the first three years. The women that we interviewed in connection with the survey told us that they had not really benefited from these efforts.”
      The stir around the Thai women started in August of last year, after Helsingin Sanomat investigated the operation of Helsinki’s Thai massage parlours.
      In the majority of the parlours, sex services were also on offer.
      As a result of the sensation that the articles caused, the Ministry of the Interior commenced a programme aimed at offering the women other means of livelihood and controlling the operation of the massage parlours.
      The Helsinki police were unable to find evidence of pimping or procurement in the parlours.
      “We have now centred our attention on more acute matters. But we do have good sources of information that will keep us up to date with the situation”, Det. Insp. Kari Tolvanen explains.
      Elsewhere in the country, however, selling of sex services has taken place. “In Turku, a case of aggravated pimping is in the preliminary investigation phase, and in Lahti a case involving pimping and exploitation”, says police chief inspector Matti Rinne.
      According to the police, there are around 350 Thai massage parlours in Finland.
      This past summer, 38 of them in 15 different cities were chosen by the police to be monitored. In August preliminary investigations were launched in the businesses where the police felt there was reason to do so.
      “Based on the monitoring, the police received a fairly good picture of the situation. In some of the cases selling of sex undoubtedly happens”, Rinne adds.
      According to the police, the Thai massage parlours seldom cause any disturbance. They keep a low profile and are quiet places.
      “The police acted quickly, for the control system was already there. But of course it would have been good to begin with the aid efforts”, Huovinen of Pro-tukipiste says by way of criticism of the authorities’ approach.
      “The launching of help efforts has been slow. To my understanding the government does not have funds budgeted for this sort of purpose”, Huovinen says.
      Huovinen sees it as positive, however, that the Ministry of the Interior has now set up a committee to look into the acclimatisation of Thai women to life in Finland.
      In the view of Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors (Swedish People’s Party), there have been no delays in commencing the process.
      “It takes a certain amount of time to set up an operation that requires new modes of operation. Furthermore, it takes time to build up trust between the Thai community and the authorities”, Thors points out.

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