Reykjavík’s “champagne clubs” have been implicated in human trafficking and prostitution on dozens of occasions since 2011. This came to light in response to a formal question posed to the Minister of the Interior.
Progressive MP Þorsteinn Sæmundsson asked Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal in parliament yesterday if she believes it is necessary to institute legislative changes in order to combat prostitution and human trafficking in the capital’s so-called “champagne clubs”, Vísir reports.
Ólöf disclosed that since 2011, 66 police reports have been filed about these clubs. 12 of these reports involved sex crimes, and 11 involved prostitution.
The Minister added that these clubs being able to operate is dependent on their supervision and their following Icelandic law, which banned strip clubs in 2010. As such, she said the police are currently in the middle of an operation focused on fighting human trafficking.
As reported, cases of prostitution have 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.