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Nadheim. Report written by Laura Treacy, November PDF

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Nadheim Selling and exchanging sexual services online in Norway: Exploring and describin g the different arenas, those involved and their potential needs and challenges. Report written by Laura Treacy,
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Nadheim Selling and exchanging sexual services online in Norway: Exploring and describin g the different arenas, those involved and their potential needs and challenges. Report written by Laura Treacy, November 2017. Table of contents Introduction and background Selling and exchanging sexual services online in Norway mapping report Definitions and terminologies used in this report... 4 Methods Overview and limitations of the methods we used during this exploration and mapping stage Specific challenges with mapping the Grey Zone of selling or exchanging sexual services online Ethics Mapping of the different online arenas Semi-structured Interviews with key persons who have experience selling or exchanging sexual services online Semi-structured interviews with social workers from Nadheim Outreach on the internet systematic review of field reports and summaries Collaboration and communication with other relevant actors Findings Overview and description of the different arenas where sexual services are sold or exchanged online in Norway Different groups selling or exchanging sexual services online in Norway Needs and challenges related to selling and exchanging sexual services online Conclusion References Appendix Project team: Jennica Andersen Røe Fredrika Olsen Cathrine Skogen Anna Graasvold Ida Svendsen Olav Lægdene Anders Stenersen Marie Rimestad Marte Romsås Project leader: Amy Medin Support from: Hans Wiggo Kristiansen Per Kristian Hilden With thanks to: all who contributed to the mapping stage of this project, especially those who shared their experiences and knowledge regarding the selling and exchanging of sexual services online. 2 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND 1.1 SELLING AND EXCHANGING SEXUAL SERVICES ONLINE IN NORWAY MAPPING REPORT Selling and buying sexual services in Norway has previously been associated with prostitution on the streets. However, the emergence of the internet and smarttelephones as central communication channels and market-places in our society has meant that the selling and exchanging of sexual services has increasingly occurred online. The internet is an arena that can facilitate easy marketing towards customers, with diverse services being more easily accessible for buyers via a variety of online platforms. For those selling, the internet can often allow greater control and flexibility over which services they provide and when. In addition, the internet can afford a much greater degree of anonymity and discretion for both parties during the initial contact phase (Cunningham & Kendall 2009, Larsdotter et al. 2011, Olssen 2010). This anonymity also means that it is easier for those selling or exchanging sexual services to conceal their activities from the outside world, be it friends, family or support organisations. Nadheim, run by SKBO 1, is the country s oldest support centre within the field of prostitution, offering low-threshold services for men, women and transgender individuals with experience in selling sexual services. Outreach, individual support and advocacy work have been the main three areas of Nadheim s focus over the years. Since 2009 Nadheim has conducted outreach work on the internet. During this time we have gained much experience and understanding around how sexual services are sold via the internet in Norway. This experience has, however, often been anecdotal in character, and has not been documented in a systematic enough way. Development of the internet and online arenas where sexual services can be sold or exchanged has occurred rapidly, and thus the few reports and studies that have been made in this area are in many ways now outdated (e.g. Johansson & Turesson 2006, MacPhail et al. 2015, Tveit og Skilbrei 2008, Waage 2010). Nadheim has specifically seen there is limited knowledge about potential new groups who are selling or exchanging sexual services online, such as young people, men, transgender individuals and transmigrants 2. We lack knowledge regarding who they are, their needs and what challenges they face, specifically related to selling or exchanging sexual services via the internet rather than more traditional arenas such as on the street. In addition, we do not know if our current methods for outreach online are optimal, if 1 Stiftelsen Kirkens Bymisjon Oslo (SKBO) Church City Mission 2 Migrants who regularly travel between different areas or countries, usually for work. 3 they should be modified or new approaches developed. Therefore, in 2016 Nadheim started a 3-year project titled: selling and exchanging sexual services online new groups and arenas 3 funded by ExtraStifelsen. Since this project has started two reports from Pro Sentret on young people who exchange sex as capital, and the selling of sexual services online in Norway, have concluded that more knowledge is still needed in these areas (Bjørndahl 2017, Kock 2017). The two main objectives for the selling and exchanging sexual services online project are: to map and increase our knowledge of the different internet-arenas where sexual services are sold and exchanged; and through this increased knowledge improve the services we provide for people who sell or exchange sexual services online (see appendix I for all of the projects objectives and specific objectives). The mapping activities described in this report have been conducted as part of this larger project which will be completed at the end of The main aims for the mapping stage of the project were to: explore and describe online arenas where sexual services are sold or exchanged; which groups are present on the different arenas; and to understand these groups own needs and challenges relating to selling or exchanging sexual services online. The findings relating to this part of the mapping stage are documented in this current report and will be shared with other relevant actors in the field e.g. Sex og Samfunn, Albertine, Pro Sentret. 1.2 DEFINITIONS AND TERMINOLOGIES USED IN THIS REPORT The change from street-based prostitution to selling sexual services via the internet has also gone hand in hand with challenging how our society traditionally demarcates prostitution from other sexual relations. It is beyond the scope of this mapping report to delve deeply into this discourse of how individual people and society as a whole define and understand prostitution and other transactional sexual encounters today. However, it is important that we are clear in our communication regarding certain concepts and terminology that we will use within this report. 1. Selling and exchanging sexual services online Selling sexual services online means that the initial contact or communication between buyer and seller occurs via the internet, for example via an escort website or a dating app. The different sexual services sold usually involve a physical meeting but not always. For example, this can include showing your body or being watched whilst masturbating via a web-cam. We use the term selling or exchanging since 3 sexsalg på nett nye grupper og arenaer 4 the transaction does not always involve money, but may involve the exchange of sexual services for other resources, such as a place to sleep, payment of tuition fees, a gift or a holiday. 2. The different online arenas on the internet The selling and exchanging of sexual services online occur on many different arenas or platforms on the internet. Therefore, we do not view the internet as a single entity or arena within this report, but explore and describe the various arenas within the internet where transactional sex can occur. 3. Grey Zone When we refer to the grey zone of selling or exchanging sexual services within this report we are referring to either: A. The explicit selling or exchanging of sexual services for money or other resources within grey zone arenas. Grey zone arenas are websites or apps that are not intentionally designed for, or explicitly aimed at, the exchange of sexual services for money. For example, social media sites, online chat forums and dating websites/apps would be considered grey zone arenas. B. The exchange of sexual services for resources in a way that is not always perceived as, or considered to be, prostitution. For example, sugar dating where a holiday may be exchanged for sexual services. 5 METHODS 2.1 OVERVIEW AND LIMITATIONS OF THE METHODS WE USED DURING THIS EXPLORATION AND MAPPING STAGE Selling and exchanging sexual services online is a complex and dynamic process, which can be difficult to navigate and understand as an outsider or observer. We purposively chose a number of different methods as part of our mapping phase in order to gain as broad, thorough and accurate understanding as possible of the current situation. The different methods we used were: 1) Mapping of the different online arenas 2) Semi-structured interviews with key persons who have experience selling or exchanging sexual services online 3) Semi-structured interviews with social workers from Nadheim 4) Outreach on the internet Systematic review of field reports and summaries 5) Collaboration and communication with other relevant actors Each method had its own limitations and/or challenges. For example, mapping of the different online arenas relied on predominantly passive and observatory techniques. Knowing who is using different sites or apps can be difficult as many people do not provide information about themselves (e.g. age, nationality) and some use fake profiles. Understanding the details of how transactional exchanges were agreed upon and actually took place could not be gained through this passive mapping strategy alone. The combination of different methods meant that we were better able to complement or fill in the holes when these methodological challenges or limitations arose. For example, information gained through mapping the different online arenas was supplemented by communication with other relevant actors and interviews with key persons confirming the most popular and relevant net pages and apps, adding those we hadn t heard of, as well as providing more detailed information into how transactions between buyers and sellers occur. In addition to the methods described above we have continuously reviewed relevant literature regarding the selling or exchanging of sexual services online, with a special focus on the Scandinavian area. 6 2.2 SPECIFIC CHALLENGES WITH MAPPING THE GREY ZONE OF SELLING OR EXCHANGING SEXUAL SERVICES ONLINE During the planning stage of the selling and exchanging sexual services online project we had hoped to connect ourselves to key persons who used grey zone arenas to explicitly sell or exchange sexual services online, or with key persons who exchanged sexual services online for resources other than money. However, this strategy proved difficult as we were unable to connect with any potential key persons who exchanged sexual services for resources other than money via grey zone arenas. This may be because they did not perceive or associate their activities with prostitution, and thereby may have been reluctant to engage in dialogue with Nadheim, which is a support centre that is directly associated with prostitution. The key persons we did connect with nearly exclusively used escort sites rather than grey zone arenas such as sugar dating apps as they were deemed too energy and time-consuming, and were often associated with higher levels of risk-taking. Due to these challenges the majority of our findings regarding the grey zone arenas and those who operate within the grey zone arenas is predominantly based upon passive mapping of these different websites and apps, the field reports from the Outreach-work online, as well as communication with other relevant actors in the field. 2.3 ETHICS Some of the arenas we mapped included websites or apps that were not part of the traditional escort arena or fell within the grey zone arenas. With this in mind, it was deemed important not to assume that all arenas actually included the exchange or selling of sexual services, or that all of those who used them were actively involved in selling or exchanging sexual services. We believed that it was important to be clear from the beginning with who we were, so that no one would make contact, mistaking us for an individual person not an organization. When we conducted our systematic mapping of the different arenas, we adjusted our approach according to the requirements or demands of the various websites/apps. Some sites did not require a log in or profile, and we were therefore able to actively explore and map these. Others required a profile in order to access them, and we therefore created a Nadheim profile detailing who we were and why we were on the website/app. If we were unable to create a Nadheim profile we created anonymous profiles which enabled us to passively explore how the site or app operated, and how likely it was that some users sold or exchanged sexual services for money or other commodities via the website or app. When using our anonymous profiles we did not actively interact or communicate with other users so as not to mislead anyone. 7 We were also aware of the potential vulnerability specifically for the key persons who participated in the semi-structured interviews. Selling and exchanging of sexual services is regularly seen as a taboo topic with stigma often being attached to those involved. The project s goals will of course never be more important than the well-being of our service-users. Thereby it was important for us to maintain confidentiality of those we spoke to, and be very clear that they were to only share information with us that they wanted to. We also gave each participant opportunities to change their mind about participating, reassured them that they could withdraw their participation at any time, or choose to not answer specific questions, without giving a reason and without having any impact upon their relationship with Nadheim. Furthermore, all of the participants were given the opportunity to read through the transcript of their individual interview thereby being able to change any misunderstandings or delete sections that they did not want included in the analysis process. Only one participant asked to read through their interview transcript and they did not request any revisions. All notes from the interviews were deleted after this process and the transcribed interviews were stored on a secure database, to be deleted when the final project is completed. 2.4 MAPPING OF THE DIFFERENT ONLINE ARENAS Between January and August 2016 active searches and reviews of different types of online arenas were conducted. These searches were informed by the experience gained through Nadheim s ongoing outreach-work online, informal conversations with key persons as well as participation in different online chat forums which explored members experiences and opinions of various arenas, websites and apps. Furthermore, reports, articles and documentaries within the general media regarding selling or exchanging sexual services online were actively monitored. Between October 2016 and February 2017 systematic exploration and mapping of the most relevant and widely used websites and apps, as determined from the initial mapping phase, was conducted. Searches for new or emerging websites and apps were regularly conducted throughout this period. A template was used to guide the systematic mapping (see appendix II), which included various topics such as: descriptions of who was using the website or app; how contact and transactions between the buyer and seller occurred; who operated the website or app; and development of contact with Nadheim, if relevant. The main websites and apps we mapped included (note this list is not exhaustive): PlanetRomeo.com RentMen.eu RealEscort.eu Escort-date.eu Hotescort.no escort-norway.com norwayescortzone.com noway.escortnews.com Sugardaters.no Datesugarbabies.com Meetasugarbaby.com Sugardaddyoslo.com Gaysir.no Eros.no Noresk.com 8 Nakenprat.com Escupido.com MaxErotica.com Badoo.com C-date.no Daddyhunt.com Guyz HappyEnd Instagram.com Scruff.com Tinder.com Tumblr.com Twitter.com Grindr.com Sinful-moments.com Moteplassen.eu Knullsiden.com Rampetepiker.no Badults.no Be2.no Fristemeg.no Zooste.com Hemmeligekontakter.com Flirtfair.no Qruiser.com escorte-forums forums-free.com In addition: various individual home pages, pornography sites and blogs were included and explored. 2.5 SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS WITH KEY PERSONS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCE SELLING OR EXCHANGING SEXUAL SERVICES ONLINE Between March and August 2017 we conducted 10 semi-structured interviews with different individuals (key persons) who have or have had experience of selling or exchanging sexual services via the internet in Norway. Each interview lasted between 1-3 hours and took place at Nadheim in a private and quiet room, at a time that was convenient for the participant. One person conducted the interview, whilst another wrote notes. We purposively chose not to use an audio-recorder. The interviews were conducted in Norwegian or English depending upon the participants preference. Due to time and resource-constraints we were not able to conduct interviews in other languages. The participants were not paid for their time, however, refreshments were provided during the interviews. A conversation-guide was used (please see appendix III) with themes including: knowledge of different websites/apps, security strategies, separating private and work life, and contact with Nadheim or other services. Some participants were active service users of Nadheim, others were contacted through Nadheim s Outreach-work online, whilst others had been to Nadheim to collect condoms. Each person was asked to participate in an interview as it was felt that they could offer interesting, useful and pertinent insight into the selling and/or exchanging of sexual services online in Norway. We only included those who had a good command of either Norwegian or English, and we did not include or approach anyone who was under 18 years of age as Nadheim only provides services for those over 18 years of age. All of the potential key persons we approached about participating in a semi-structured interview agreed to participate. Many of the participants who spoke with us described afterwards that the interview had been a positive experience and they were happy to be assisting Nadheim in improving the services that we offer. For some it was also an 9 opportunity to discuss and share a side of their life that they cannot always discuss so openly with friends or family. All stated that they were happy to be contacted by Nadheim again in the future regarding our project. To ensure confidentiality this report will not describe the individual participants in detail but give a brief description of the group. In total we interviewed 6 women, 2 transgender women and 2 men, aged between mid-20s up to mid-40s. The participants were from a variety of countries and regions including Norway, Russia, Ukraine, South America, Africa, Southern Europe. They had various residency statuses and thus varying rights to healthcare, welfare, access to work etc. Some lived in Norway permanently, others temporarily, whilst others only for short periods, travelling in and out of the country. Some lived only in Oslo, whilst others travelled around Norway. Some earned money solely through selling sexual services, others had other income generating activities, whilst others no longer sold sex. Some had sold sex for many years, whilst others for only a few months. All had recent experience (within the last year) or were currently selling or exchanging sexual services online. After each interview was transcribed, the project team 4 read through each interview together. This enabled any misunderstandings to be discussed within the team, and provided an opportunity for discussions around how to improve the interview technique. In addition,
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