Swedish Prostitution Ban An Apparent Enormous Success
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
STOCKHOLM, November 15, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Sweden appears to have nearly wiped out prostitution. How? In 1999 Sweden passed legislation that criminalized the buying of sex, and decriminalized the selling of sex. The groundbreaking principle behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government’s literature on the law:
"In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them."
This law is the only one of its kind in the world, and it seems to be incredibly successful according to Swedish officials. The law, which has criminalized the purchase and brokering of sexual services, provides for up to six years in prison for pimps, up to 10 years for traffickers of prostitutes. The john could face up to six months in prison if caught in the act.
In a report in Spiegel, Jonas Trolle, an inspector with the Stockholm police unit dedicated to combating prostitution said, "The goal is to criminalize the demand side of the equation, the johns, rather than putting emotionally and physically imperiled women behind bars."
The results of this strategy are impressive. "We have significantly less prostitution than our neighboring countries, even if we take into account the fact that some of it happens underground," says Trolle. "We only have between 105 and 130 women - both on the Internet and on the street - active (in prostitution) in Stockholm today. In Oslo, it’s 5,000."
Another relevant aspect of the ban is the reduction of the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually trafficked into Sweden for prostitution, while in neighboring Finland the number is 15,000 to 17,000.
An essential element of Sweden’s prostitution legislation is to provide women prostitutes with the avenue to get out of the dangerous businesss and receive the needed social support to reshape their lives.
According to a study by the Scottish government in 2003 on the consequences of prostitution policies in several countries, those that had legalized and/or regulated prostitution had a dramatic increase in all facets of the sex industry, saw an increase in the involvement of organized crime in the sex industry, and found a dismaying increase in child prostitution, trafficking of women and girls and violence against women. (See the Scottish government report here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/historic/ lg/inquiries-03/ptz/lg04-ptz-res-03.htm)
Countries that have considered the possibility of legalizing prostitution, including Canada, would do well to look at the bold and effective strides Sweden has taken against this form of exploitation of women. A Swedish success story!
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Canada Preparing to Legalize Prostitution?
Experts on Prostitution Warn Canada on Danger of Legalization
Canada Considers Further Legalizing Prostitution While Amsterdam Mayor Admits Legalization’s Failure
Canada to Tighten Laws Against Sex Trafficking with Proposed Bill Blocking Stripper Visas