12:22 GMT01 April 2020
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    Swedish national broadcaster SVT has landed in hot water after a sexual scandal involving one of its managers. The man used a so-called "sugar dating" website and was caught making indecent proposals to what he believed was a teenage girl, yet was exposed in a journalist investigation.

    Proposals to buy the virginity of what he believed was a 14-year-old girl (but proved to be an investigative journalist) have summoned dark clouds over Swedish national broadcaster SVT and cost the man his job. This case was also reported to the police.

    The now dismissed SVT manager reportedly used a site for "sugar dating" and was looking for a virgin girl. In his quest, he tracked down a certain Linnea, who claimed to be 14 and met his requirement, and offered her 9,000 SEK (around $1,120) in return for her services.

    The two arranged a meeting, yet to the man's utter surprise, the 14-year-old virgin he had expected turned out to be Lisah Sifwer, a digging reporter from the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen, who worked under the alias of Linnea. The SVT manager then changed his tune: he denied looking for sex whatsoever and tried to present the situation as if he wanted to save Linnea from being exploited.

    Subsequently, SVT announced that the man had to leave his post at the public service company, without presenting his name. SVT communications director Sabina Rasiwala also said that a report about the incident had been fired to the police. By Lisah Sifwer's own admission, she received about 50 similar propositions the very same day she posted the ad, which is indicative of a shady phenomenon.

    Recently, a number of contact sites for "sugar dating" have popped up in Northern Europe. The concept involves older and well-off men seeking younger girls and boys to "pamper." Many of these sites are believed to border on prostitution in the practice of acquiring sexual services for money. According to Swedish law, only purchasing sex has been criminalized, which is why the selling part is never punished. The buyer, though, may be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment of a maximum of six months. Cases involving children may yield between two and six years in prison.

    "This is pure prostitution. We, from the police side, want to alert and warn that it's very easy for underage girls to join these sites. All cases we have checked in Sweden so far have been about prostitution and nothing else," said Simon Häggström, an investigator with the Human Trafficking Group at the National Operations Department (NOA). He also stressed that many are willing to pay double for sex with underage girls and boys and are in some cases bidding for virginity, seducing children with pictures of luxury and glamor.

    At present, however, "sugar dating" websites remain a ridiculously lucrative affair. According to Expressen, the Danish owners of the Sugardaters website, where "Linnea" attempted to sell her virginity, increased its profit by a staggering 400 percent in 2016 to almost 5 million SEK ($600,000).

    In early September, controversial ads by Norwegian "sugar dating" website Rich Meets Beautiful, in which female students were encouraged to date "sugar daddies" in exchange for having their student loans paid off, sparked a blistering polemic and were subsequently removed.

    ​Rich Meet Beautiful CEO Sigurd Vedal agreed that the very concept of "sugar dating" might be perceived as controversial, yet argues that "sugar babies" are not just looking for money, but for a man who is "nice, charming and intelligent," SVT reported.

    SVT is a Swedish public TV broadcaster, funded by a television license fee paid by all owners of TV sets. It can be described as a quasi-autonomous non-government organization governed by an "independent" foundation appointed by the Swedish government and representing the country's parliamentary parties.

    Despite having long lost its monopoly on domestic broadcasting, SVT is still the biggest TV network in Sweden with over 2,000 employees.


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    pimping, prostitution, sexual abuse, SVT, Scandinavia, Sweden
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