Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Swedish experience...

It was always a dream of mine to visit Sweden. Many reasons of course, a minor one being a nobel prize (not yet sure in which category, when in middle school it was maths, in high school chemistry…in college environment…now it is between peace and literature!!!). Well fantasy apart the anti demand legislation was my greatest attraction. The Swedish model to address sex buyers is one of its own kind in the world and I wanted to understand it firsthand. So when Bonnier Media University invited me for GRID 2011, I was on top of the world. Finally I was going to Stockholm.
For those of you who have never heard of GRID, this is an annual meet for a selected group of Bonnier employees worldwide. The conference brings also handpicked speakers from diverse fields to make a TED like (18mins) presentation. This time I was one of the 12 speakers.
Sweden is a beautiful place and for the most unknown reason I instantly felt very comfortable( there are many countries I feel not so very comfortable too).
But the greatest highlight of my visit was to meet senior police officers to understand the anti demand legislation. Meeting officer Kajza and Officer Simon was an eye opener of a different kind. In Sweden the legislation has criminalized buying sex. Any man or woman who buys sex is arrested and prosecuted. The officers are trained for intensive surveillance. It becomes very important to catch the buyer in the act itself so that the officer can be a witness also in the court and there is no scope for acquittal.
In Sweden there is prostitution and sex trafficking. Most girls trafficked to Sweden are from Baltic countries. In most sex trafficking cases the victim girls are also witnesses and are provided safe shelter through the Social Service Department. What is incredible is that in a year’s time the cases are completed. The compensation is a sizeable amount and ensures that victim can be reintegrated back to society comfortably. The prostitution cases of course has mostly the officers as the witness.
The specialized prostitution unit has dedicated officers who have extraordinary commitment. It was very interesting to note that Officers worked with a lot of autonomy and freedom. Once appointed in a particular unit there was absolutely no transfer until the officer himself or herself does not request for it.No officer was transferred for taking up controversial cases. In fact a minister and prominent business-man were also arrested. In India this would have definitely ended with the officer transferred to some remote area…Timbuctoo etc!
What struck me is the political and public will to address the problem. In ten years since the legislation has come into existence street prostitution has reduced by 70% and sex trafficking by 50%. It was very impressive.
Of course I had a lot of concerns. What happens to the women/girls after the buyers are arrested? I strongly felt just addressing the demand is an incomplete solution. Providing support to women/girls for a safe exit from prostitution as a supply-focused intervention was as important as addressing demand. Maybe in the form of protection services and economic opportunities.
For all of we know the woman/girl may shift to Belgium or Germany to prostitute as she does not find buyers here. If just addressing demand can get such great results just imagine if both ends are addressed what a fool proof impact it will have.
It was truly an enriching experience to learn this model. I wonder how much we can replicate this in India with all the vested interests and poor political will.
The rest of the trip was filled with meeting some very beautiful people. I am not sure how much I gave in GRID but I definitely know that I gained a lot. Renewed energy…better focus and some new direction…

34 comments:

  1. Great to hear of the encouragement of the Sweden experience. This blog is an inspiration to all of us in the service professions to go the extra mile for disenfranchised people who have no-one else to turn to. May God's protection and blessings be yours as you continue to be involved in the lives of these women and children. You are an inspiration to us all.

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  2. Firstly, "Officers as witnesses", "officers have autonomy", "officers cannot be transferred" --> These are dangerous for Indian context.

    Secondly, I personally have nothing against sex trade. I am only deadly against the trafficking (The fraudulent/deception, abuse, violence). But the trade itself to great extent creates the scope for trafficking in under-developed countries. But that again is a different problem which is fundamental contributing to all other problems.

    We need to make punishments severe for all crimes. With given population we should certainly AFFORD that to create a GOOD POPULATION going forward.

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  3. You may be surprised but many of these end up in India; India is a safe destination for many as the thoughts are liberal, the areas where they operate give them similar if not same returns

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  4. Dr Krishnan, this is an encouraging and reassuring story. We agree with the Mathews – you ARE an inspiration to us all. Your energy, passion and commitment to drive change are enormously motivating. We can all comment and offer our opinions but how many of us are out there DOING. Even the recent (and ongoing) results of your rescue and restoration program are humbling. You've changed the lives of so many individuals and we're right behind you.

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  5. In India people talk about education, population, crime against women and children and nothing changes. A few good people dedicate their lives to bringing changea, a few more (like me) comment on their blogs and forward a few emails.

    However, the truth is that these are the wrong problems to solve. In my opinion the problem we need to fix first is the lack of political will and then second to ensure that are law enforcement agencies have no political inklings.

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  6. oh, finally got your page and following you mam... have seen your video regarding HUMAN TRAFFICKING.. bieng a boy of thirs year engineering.. i must agree that i cried a lot.. and as u said.. iam sharing that video and news atleast with two person.. proud of you and your moves... hope i will have a chance to meet you at some gatherings to show my support. thanks a lot mam

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  7. Grt u r.. Like to meet. :-)

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  8. Madam.......love ur thoughts.and fight for justice..INSHALLAH,I WILL BE SUPPORT ..GOD BLESS U.......AND HELP U LOT..........

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  9. hi suntha a great step towards thousand mile journey.I salute you . God bless you.hope with ur action will get a new society .

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. This country desperately needs a dashing woman like you sunitha. I would be grateful to God if I can contribute an iota to your world size work. I really love you equal to my father.

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  12. Dear Sunitha,
    I had mailed you already. You are such an amazing person, so strong willed that It inspires me to do something rather than just praise you for what an extraordinary work you are doing.

    Please do post something about how ordinary individuals can contribute to your cause. I'll do my best to get more people in your city to support you in any way possible.

    Best Wishes always!

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  13. I just remember one tv programme in which a police officer was making a statement that the prostitution in the red light area in Mumbai is the necessity of the community as the men will be raping the women outside otherwise..the police itself contains these kind of stupid people. they themselves addicted to these kind of activities. Y is it happening here.why only here nothing goes in the right way. I know many of my friends saying they had to travel with pins and compass in the buses to avoid sexual harassment from people. its not only girls suffering. young boys are also utilised by the people even in public places. are we going to a stone age?

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    Replies
    1. grow up Mr.Ajith , think like a common man. Here in Abroad it is much worse than our RED light areas. But these people know the safe way.
      By the way do you watch pornography videos?? or masala pics??
      Everyone has a particular level of beast inside. some are beyond limits, for them this RED privileges.

      Delete
  14. புத்தாண்டு நல் வாழ்த்துக்கள்
    எனது ப்ளாக்கில்:
    பாட்டைக் கேளுங்க பரிசு வெல்லுங்க
    புத்தாண்டு பரிசு ஒரு வாரம் கோவாவில் குடும்பத்தோடு தாங்கும் வாய்ப்பு
    A2ZTV ASIA விடம் இருந்து.

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  15. i love u baby i want to fuck u

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    Replies
    1. Be ashamed of yourself

      Delete
  16. I hope you renew your energy and hope we get strength to do a work as good and noble as yours

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  17. salute your life and way of how should be a social creature. Respect your way of life for depressed "inhuman" lives. solidarity

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  18. its very informative content!
    continue your good job...


    SEO Company India

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  19. Nice post all the information of the place there in the blog but it should have also contains some pictures or images of the place which look more attractive

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  20. Rajesh Bothra was born in Mumbai 1968, in Marwari family from a Rajaldesar village in Rajasthan. When he was aged about 16. He decided to quit his further studies, because his ambition was to become an excellent businessman. After quitting his studies he decided to start his business. In Present days his Business is popular by brand name Mercury, which is sold and uses his product Worldwide by common people.

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  21. I cannot understand why Sweden wishes to prosecute the buying of sex. Or indeed why the selling of sex should be illegal.

    The real issue is trafficking, child abuse and disease, which are problems to be tackled through a basket of measures. Those measures include tough policing and prosecution of not only those who facilitate supply, but also of those who buy sex with minors or trafficked persons. It includes licensing of all those who sell sex, insistence on hygiene and birth control, as well as regular health check-ups to qualify for license renewal. It includes community support for sex workers, such as what I saw in Pune when I visited Saheli.

    Actually there is nothing earth-shatteringly new in solving the problems of sex workers, it is only in implementation that we fail. They are not different from exploited workers in other industries. We should not let our puritanism prevent us from looking at this as yet another industry.

    If you make it illegal to buy sex, as in Sweden's case, then you will only push this thing underground and make it more dangerous.

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    Replies
    1. Finally someone sensible has posted

      Delete
  22. Prostitution is not the problem, human trafficking is.It is like saying ban alcohol. Policing can only stop the outcomes as we want to see them, it does not make the issue go away. History is replete with examples.I strongly feel that offenders of trafficking be dealt with by quick and stringent punishment.

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  23. There is no Nobel prize for maths.

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  24. its not poor political will.

    Its strong political will against solving this problem or any problem for that matter.

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  25. I think more than your blog I enjoyed people's comments. I think it is interesting that some people commented saying they are ok with prostitution by not ok with abuse. I personally feel that prostitution is not a choice. It is only a choice when a human being has lost all hope and is thrust to do what they have to do. I am not an expert but I have a hard-time believing that unless someone is hopeless they would turn to prostitution. And I am surprised as a society we are fine with that rather than preventing the process.

    I do believe that India takes extreme measures when it talks about cutting down on crime relating to sexual violations. Either they claim it is the victims fault and do nothing. Or they rush toward violence towards the perpetrator, which may work in the short run but does not last in the long run as people always forget. I feel that the society needs to react in unison when it comes to these crimes. I think we first have to treat every crime of rape whether it is committed on a small child or prostitute should be taken as seriously as India reacted against the student who was raped in Delhi. Also we have teach people to stop objectify women outwardly. I agree with Ajith there is no safety for anyone. Traveling in local buses or standing in a crowed place and even places like a temple! you get molested. Being a women I have lost count the number of times people have tried to grope me and my friends. As stated before unless we all react in disgust and actively discourage these heinous acts we cant fix this problem.

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    I think you have something special here, http://147me4ever.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi,

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    ReplyDelete