Harassment: African women are often taken to be prostitutes in Norway
Posted by African Press International on May 20, 2012
< Elizabeth M. Koikai reporting from Oslo, Norway
The issue of Nigerian prostitutes in the streets of Oslo and other major cities has been intensely covered by both national and international media. As one reads various articles about this pressing issue, it is hard not to notice a trend.
Prostitution in Scandinavian countries is largely identified with african women, to the degree that african women feel harassed and stigmatised as prostitutes.
A few years after Norway banned the purchase of sex many ordinary african women still feel that the law has not improved the perceptions of women of colour in Norway. Before the implementation of the law it was almost impossible to walk down the Karl Johan Street in Oslo without getting proposals from willing sex-buyers.
Many ordinary african women welcomed the law hoping that it would make life easier for them and that they would walk in the city with a sense of pride.
Despite a decrease in the number of sex workers in the city of Oslo many people argue that it has contributed to prostitution moving indoors, for example in pubs, restaurants and nightclubs. This has in turn created stigmatization and discrimination of African women.
The law that was introduced back in 2009 has resulted to regular african women to be met with even more malicious control when they want to get into pubs, restaurant or nightclub.
As managers and security guards try to protect their establishments against suspicions of sheltering prostitution, they openly refuse african women entry. Many women especially those married to norwegian men feel discriminated and stigmatised. The law has made things worse for couples when they appear together in public areas.
“You people are not allowed in here” is a common phrase usually directed to african women by bouncers at nightclubs in Oslo.
Such establishments are required by the police to check identification. If one lacks a personal number which is equivalent to a social security number, they are refused entry to a pub or nightclub. But many anti-racist organizations argue that bouncers and bartenders generally pass judgement and discriminate african women.
“An african woman in Oslo has come to be synonymous with prostitution. Many are exposed to harassment at nightclubs, hotels and even from police officers”, states a human rights activist in Oslo.
A country like Norway that promotes human and gender rights should take action against this discriminatory practice that is evolving.