The Swedish government plans to invest 10 million kronor ($1.49 million) to enable state agencies to develop clearer ethical guidelines for civil servants working overseas in order to curb the buying of sexual services and improper sexual relations.
The measures include education, a common website and guidance materials that will be developed.
“It is clear that everyone knows that you cannot buy sex, surf for porn during work hours, or come as a rich man or woman and sexually exploit someone living in poverty. That much we know. But it must be made clear in a document what you can do and cannot do,” Gender Equality Minister Nyamko Sabuni told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily on Monday.
However, she said that the government is reluctant to “put its foot down” and establish standard general guidelines.
“Different agencies have different needs,” she told the newspaper. “You can’t compare the military in peace-promoting missions with agencies which maybe only travel to Brussels.”
The government has not investigated how common the purchase of sexual services, visits to porn clubs and the sexual exploitation of locals is among Swedish civil servants, soldiers and aid workers.
Sabuni instead used media coverage on Swedish soldiers who bought sex in Germany and UN staff who exploited the local population in the Congo, to illustrate the problem.
A study commissioned by the government showed that only one-fifth of all government agencies have some form of ethical guidelines and the government hopes that the 10 million kronor allocation will address this.
“Even though they suspect that this is bad behaviour, it should be clear what the consequences are if one violates the ethical guidelines. It is difficult for the employer to take action when it is not known from the beginning that it is a violation of the guidelines. Clarity is needed,” said Sabuni.