Land of double morale


Prostitution has become legal in Iceland, which opens up excellent business opportunities for people struggling with their mortgage and need to make money on the side.

Anyone interested can now pick a busy street corner and offer sexual services in exchange for money without the risk of being arrested, and anyone interested in buying their services can do so legally.

Soliciting sex was legalized in Iceland after a new law provision on prostitution was accepted by parliament on March 17, buying sex was already legal.

Which means prostitution must be legal, but with a few exceptions though.

It is illegal for a third party, or a pimp, to make money from the prostitution of others or rent facilities intended for prostitution. It is also illegal for a third party to organize sex for money between others, even if there are no profits involved for the third party.

I imagine that must include linking on websites and “recommending” prostitutes. The new law provision also includes a clause making it illegal to publicly advertise prostitution.

The reason for these new laws is to fight human trafficking. The government argues that most people who solicit sex do it as a last resort or because others force them into prostitution. As these people no longer risk imprisonment, they are more likely to come forward and lead police to third parties making money out of prostitution.

But I don’t really see that happening. I imagine people who are forced into prostitution are too scared of their backers to go to the police, and victims of human trafficking who end up in Iceland are hardly aware of their legal rights.

Also, while prostitution was illegal, police at least had a better chance to bargain with the people they arrested for soliciting sex, as in: “If you lead me to your pimp, I’ll spare you imprisonment.”

And I just don’t get why it should be legal to buy sexual services. I don’t care if some prostitutes choose this “profession” out of their own free will and in some bizarre way enjoy having sex with strangers for money.

At the end of the day they are being taken advantage of by sex-starved weirdos and that should never be legal. Sex is a beautiful thing and has everything to do with love, respect and intimacy. Sex should have nothing to do with money.

I fear that now, as both buying and selling sex is legal in Iceland, we will see a huge increase in both sex tourism and human trafficking. I don’t believe these new laws will make it easier to track down third parties, the crooks are sure to find a way to make everything look legal on the surface.

Some people have feared that there is nothing to prevent a red-light district from rising in downtown Reykjavík. But I don’t think that is possible within the legal frame of the new provision, as it is neither legal to rent housing for prostitution, nor advertise it publicly.

The reason advertising prostitution is not allowed, by the way, is to make prostitution less visible. I agree that it should be banned to advertise prostitution, but I don’t agree with the reason for making it illegal.

Do people want to make prostitution less visible to make the problem easier to ignore, as in sweeping it under the rug? Is this a form of see no evil, hear no evil?

There are so many things about these new laws that I don’t understand. I am surprised the parliament legalized prostitution (even though it may have been done for a noble cause it just wasn’t well thought through) and I am even more surprised there has not been much discussion about this new legislation in the community. Where are all the feminists now who demanded porn producers should be outlawed?

And why is pornography illegal in Iceland when prostitution is legal?

This is truly a land of extremes and double morale…

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Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.