Foreign prostitution in Norway
The term foreign prostitution refers to prostitution where the person selling sex is a person of foreign origin. Most foreign prostitution fits into one of two categories: migrant prostitution and human trafficking. The main difference between migrant prostitution and trafficking is that trafficking involves exploitation and coercion by a third party. Migrants, meanwhile, travel abroad on their own accord to sell sexual services. There is a grey area between the two categories, and in practice, it can be difficult to distinguish between victims of trafficking and other foreign women working in prostitution. What is often true in the case of both human trafficking and migrant prostitution, is that poverty or other economic circumstances make people feel that they have been forced into prostitution due to a lack of alternatives. Before the turn of the millennium, there were very few foreigners selling sex in Norway but are now in the absolute majority.
Nationalities. Most of the persons Pro Sentret encounter are originally from Nigeria, Thailand, the Balkan region, the Baltic states or Eastern Europe.
Residence status in Norway. The residence status of the persons who sell sex in Norway varies greatly. Some of them have come to Norway after marrying a Norwegian citizen, or on family reunification grounds. These persons have residence and work permits, and some are Norwegian citizens. EU citizens who come to Norway can stay for up to three months while looking for work, or six months if they register as job-seekers with NAV. Many of the persons Pro Sentret encounters are staying in Norway under that arrangement. Some of the foreign persons who sell sexual services in Norway have a residence permit in another Schengen country. They can enter Norway without a visa, and are allowed to stay for up to three months. Some of the people who are not EU or EEA citizens choose to seek asylum in Norway. We also know that some persons are in the country illegally. Victims of human trafficking can apply for a so-called reflection period in Norway.
How prostitution is organised. Many foreign persons who sell sex in Norway have links to, pay or are controlled by a third party, although there is much variation in the exact arrangements, in how much is paid and in the level of control. The activities of these third parties are illegal in Norway. Within organised prostitution, in practice, it can often be difficult to distinguish between human trafficking and pimping. Human trafficking for prostitution involves elements of pimping, but not all pimping is trafficking. Paying part of what you earn to a third party often feels like exploitation.
On the other hand, many persons emphasise that they would never have been able to come to Europe or Norway without the help of their facilitators. The situation is further complicated by the fact that some of the women have/develop personal relationships with their facilitators. Sometimes it is their boyfriends, husbands or friends/acquaintances who act as facilitators, demanding all or a large part of their income.
You can read more about the laws that regulate prostitution here, and about human trafficking here.