Posted 9 февраля 2021,, 12:42

Published 9 февраля 2021,, 12:42

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

The client is always to blame: how Sweden fights prostitution and what comes of it

The client is always to blame: how Sweden fights prostitution and what comes of it

9 февраля 2021, 12:42
After the successes of the "Swedish model" in the fight against prostitution, the controversy about whether this business should be legalized has reached a new level.

In social networks, an old discussion flared up again: what to do with prostitution. Whether to legalize it like in Germany, or go the Swedish way, punishing not a prostitute or a pimp, but a client who buys sex services. The reason for the inquiries was the material published in the network edition "Zanovo-Media", which, in particular, says:

“In 1999, Sweden turned the idea of combating prostitution on its head: it passed legislation that made it illegal to pay for sexual services, while selling them was not prohibited: not sex workers are punished, but their clients.

Later, other countries followed the Swedish experience, although this model (it was called “Swedish” or “Scandinavian”) cannot just be transferred to another soil, if you do not first adjust local standards to “Scandinavian socialist capitalism”.

The model includes a strong welfare state, already existing institutions that help women, if they want, to undergo rehabilitation and change their profession, a complete retraining of police officers who now consider women not criminals, but victims, as well as educational programs aimed at changing the mentality of society...

Seeing the success of the Swedes, similar laws were passed:

2009: Norway - Sexual Purchase Act

2009: Iceland

2014: Canada - Society and Exploited People Protection Act

2015: Northern Ireland

2016: France

2017: Ireland - Sexual Crimes Act

2017: Israel

The European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution in February 2014 stating the following:

“EU countries should reduce the demand for prostitution by punishing clients, not sex workers themselves. Prostitution is an abuse of human dignity, regardless of whether it is voluntary or forced. EU member states must find alternative sources of income for women who want to leave prostitution”

In 2008, the Swedish government created a special committee whose purpose was to assess the impact of the law on the sex industry from its adoption in 1999 until 2008. Street prostitution has dropped by half, according to the committee's report. At the same time, the advertising volume for escort services increased from 304 to 6,965 ads. The report also points out that an increase in escort ads does not always mean an increase in sex.

The police focused on reducing the level of street prostitution, including in order to influence the public, as this was the most visible form of prostitution. The committee later stated that public opinion had changed significantly compared to the current situation in Norway and Denmark, and that 70% of the population supported a ban on buying sex in Sweden. However, the committee adds, prostitution and human trafficking are complex practices, they are often carried out in secret, so research is limited, and any data obtained should be treated with caution.

Opinion polls have shown that in Iceland, too, 70% of the population supports a ban on the purchase of sexual services.

A report by the Norwegian authorities five years after the law came into force showed that the Swedish model had a deterrent effect on prostitution and made Norway less attractive for sex trafficking.

The authorities' report also indicated that the police did not detect any signs of increased violence against people employed in the sex industry. Research shows that the street prostitution market shrank 45-60% after the law went into effect. And yet, the data that allow such conclusions to be drawn, according to some scientists, require additional clarification. Overall, it was found that the overall level of prostitution had dropped by 25%.

Surveys conducted among sex workers have shown changes in client composition since the law went into effect. There are fewer young people, more middle class and foreigners. As in Sweden, attitudes towards men who buy sex have been found to have changed, especially among young people who share a predominantly negative opinion..."

Legalization does not help prostitutes in any way

In 2012, researchers in Germany, Switzerland and the UK examined the effect of legalizing prostitution on human trafficking. The general conclusion is that the inflow of human trafficking has grown, and the trade has not decreased everywhere, because the replacement of illegal prostitution with legal one could not compensate for the increased number of trafficked people.

The increase in illegal prostitution that followed legalization can be caused by two factors: first, illegal supply can be passed off as legal, and second, legalization reduces the stigma associated with the consumption of prohibited services.

An example of an increase in prostitution after legalization is Denmark, where the volume increased by 40% between 2002 and 2009 after it was legalized in 1999. According to some studies in Europe, trafficking in persons is lower in countries where prostitution and its supply are illegal, and highest in countries where it is legalized.


As an afterword to these opinions, it can and should be added that not everyone shares the point of view that prostitution is slavery. For example, Alina Vitukhnovskaya, a regular contributor to Novye Izvestia, writes in the comments:

"Rape? Well you give! That is, if I decide to make money by selling my body, a moralist will come and say that I am being raped? I don't need such morality. It is not clear why sitting in an office from 8 to 8 is better than earning a lot from a "relationship"..."

On the other hand, it is quite obvious that society is not yet ripe for this kind of relationship. As one commentator pointed out to proponents of legalizing prostitution:

“When you and your wife go to visit, and when asked about the profession she will calmly answer: I am a prostitute, and your children, when asked by the teacher, will proudly announce this to the whole class, then it will be possible to talk about legalization. And as long as there is a consensus in society that this occupation is unworthy and humiliating, prostitution should be prohibited..."

And this, most likely, is the only correct decision.