Unnamed “champagne clubs” in Reykjavík are suspected of engaging in human trafficking and prostitution, police say. Almost all the women involved are of foreign origin, and almost all their clients have been Icelandic men.
Police have reasons to believe prostitution is directly connected to such clubs, RÚV reports, and there are at least five in the capital area. It is unknown if the women brought to Iceland for this purpose were brought here against their will or under false pretenses, or if they have freedom of movement in the country. These women are also, more often than not, reluctant to speak with police.
Cases of prostitution have also been on the rise, and police believe this is connected to the increasing numbers of tourists in Iceland. Police have received information that prostitutes go to or are sent to hotels in the capital to seek out clients, and in some cases women who work at these champagne clubs have been involved.
However, of the 52 people who were arrested for hiring or attempting to hire a prostitute in 2013, in all cases but one the suspect was an Icelandic man.
Police have had their eye on champagne clubs in the past. In 2013, two undercover journalists went to two different champagne clubs in Reykjavík, Crystal and VIP Club (now called Shooters). Women working at the latter were mostly from Slovenia who had only been in Iceland a week, lived in the same small apartment, and appeared to need permission to speak from an on-site supervisor. Further, the reporter was told he could do “anything he wanted” with one of the women in the back room of the club for 20,000 ISK. A Grapevine writer, following up the story, would also find this to be the case.
The club owners denied the allegations, and threatened to sue those who levied these accusations against them. It is unknown if these suits were filed, or what became of them.