An unexpected result of the coronavirus pandemic concerns the police in Sweden.
Young people are going to do sex work illegally to earn money after losing their part-time job, according to a recent undercover operation.
“Their parents were also talking about this. We are talking about low-paying jobs, such as fast food outlets,” Malin Andersson, Secretary of Social Affairs for the Stockholm City Youth Rapid Response Team, told Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
Operation Cod was aimed at people who paid for sex in Stockholm. The police identified at least five sex workers under the age of eighteen, whose advertisements included things such as ‘lost my extra job’.
“We are clearly seeing more activity among young people,” Inspector Simon Häggström told Svenska Dagbladet.
“They say this is because of corona, that they don’t have a job and that they are just sitting at home. It is definitely a new group of young people who are now making their debut. It is alarming.”
According to social services, most young people involved in the illegal trade started to advertise themselves on “sugar dating sites”, where wealthy adults – mostly men – pay young people for dates, camaraderie or sex.
“This carries a very high risk,” said Andersson.
“People who are interested in children have already passed the threshold, they don’t care what the child thinks. They are also very good at convincing.”
Jan Jönsson, councilor for social affairs in Stockholm, vowed to address the issue.
“Now we see more active male users on sugar dating sites and young people are more likely to post ads that offer sexual services. All of this is very serious, as we know: often these kinds of schemes are a direct gateway to prostitution.”
Andersson said some young Swedes experienced poor mental health during the closure.
“They feel isolated. If someone falls into this sphere, there are usually a number of reasons. Everyone there feels bad because of different circumstances. We can talk about past traumas that make someone feel completely alone now, alienated from others. “
Underage sex workers identified by police or social services are reportedly brought home and offered to their parents.
Sweden works according to the Scandinavian model, which criminalizes buying sex, but does not sell it.
The Swedish government has not ordered a complete cut-off like other European countries, but has instead opted for much looser social distance measures, allowing residents to continue to work and go to bars and restaurants.
It is now by far the worst affected Scandinavian country, with 32,809 cases and 3,925 deaths.