According to the Chief of the Police Human Trafficking Team Snorri Birgisson, prostitution in Iceland has recently found a safe haven in downtown AirBnB apartments, RÚV reports.
During an open meeting between the Reykjavik City Council and the Violence Prevention Committee, Snorri explained that the supply of prostitutes in Iceland has increased in the past years, but it’s so far been really hard to figure out whether the women involved are victims of human trafficking or whether they are independent contractors. However, the police are certain that local prostitution mostly relies on women who come from Romania and Hungary, likely sent to Iceland by a third party who is exploiting them financially.
The role of Airbnb and social media
The police also found out that these prostitutes mostly work in AirBnB apartments located downtown. During their research, the police have been focusing mostly on apartments where individuals can get in and out without attracting too much attention or being too noticeable. “When there are more than two or three prostitutes in these apartments the flow of people going through these houses can be substantial,” Snorri says. “This traffic can look quite suspicious, so those who book these apartments look for ones whose entrances are well hidden.”
Once the apartments are booked, prostitutes are often advertised on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, but they can also be sent to any location at the buyer’s request. “It’s actually just as easy to find a prostitute as it is to order a pizza,” Snorri explained.
The police had already mentioned the existence of a Facebook group counting almost 500 members used by Icelandic men to discuss the pros and cons of individual prostitutes, including prices. Although buying sex is illegal in Iceland, there is little the police can do when it comes to these kinds of sites. “In some cases we have suspected the involvement of human trafficking, but it’s often difficult to reach these individuals,” Snorri had told Visir in February. “They often prefer not to comment on their situation or even refuse our assistance.”