New Law Criminalises Norwegians Buying Sex In Asia

A Norwegian law which came into effect 1st January 2009 makes it a crime for Norwegians to buy, but not to sell, sex in Norway and abroad. The implications for Norwegian citizens engaging in such nefarious activities in Pattaya are still unclear, writes
    The main target for the legislation is the streets of Norway’s capital, Oslo, where the Norwegian authorities say they want to stamp out prostitution by targeting clients rather than prostitutes. Norwegian citizens caught paying for prostitutes at home or abroad could face a hefty fine or a six-month prison sentence.
    The Norwegian Minister Of Justice, Knut Storberget, has stated that all Norwegian sex clients should now be wary and has made it clear that the law also applies to Norwegians purchasing sexual favours outside of the country. It will be difficult to prosecute, he said, but not impossible. The Norwegian authorities have managed to punish pedophiles who have paid to have sex with children in Thailand and will be able to prosecute “normal” sex clients in the same way, he added.
    On the evening of the 1st January PDN decided to gauge the reaction to the new law among Norwegian visitors in Pattaya. I chose Kåre’s Party Bar on Pattaya’s second road, a beer bar popular among Norwegian tourists who make up 90% of the bar’s clientele.
    I asked Terje, the co-owner of the bar, if there had been any reaction from his customers to the new law, having already ascertained that his bar was not in the business of procuring women for sexual services. He said the law had long been a popular theme of discussion but no-one took it seriously. He suggested Norwegian authorities should put their own house in order before persecuting its citizens abroad. He also wondered how the authorities planned to enforce the law in Thailand. Would Norway be sending undercover agents to gather evidence? Would the Thai Police cooperate?     
    The law also specifically defines the sexual activities it covers. These include payment for sexual intercourse, physical contact between exposed genitalia, one or two-way masturbation or touching someone’s private parts or breasts. “Payment” is defined as the exchange of money, or payment in kind, including the giving of flowers and gifts.
    Whilst talking to Terje he asked several of his customers, jokingly : ”Have you broken the law today?” to which some responded with a look of bewilderment. As a parting comment I suggested he print the question on t-shirts and make a fortune selling them in his bar. To which he gave me a wry smile, but unfortunately no offer of a commission….

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