Sweden’s Prohibition of Purchase of Sex: The Law’s Reasons, Impact, and Potential
Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 34, No. 5, pp. 449-474, 2011
52 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2011 Last revised: 21 Oct 2012
Date Written: August 16, 2011
In 1999, Sweden passed a law criminalizing the purchase of sex and decriminalizing the prostituted person. The law was part of an omnibus bill against violence against women, recognizing prostitution as related to such violence. This article analyzes the reasons for the Swedish law and documents the law’s impact, concluding that the law has significantly reduced the occurrence of prostitution in Sweden compared to neighboring countries. In addition, it addresses some important remaining obstacles to the law’s effective implementation and responds to various common critiques of (and misinformation about) the law and its effects. Finally, this article argues that, in order to realize the law’s full potential to support escape from prostitution, the civil rights of prostituted persons under current law should be strengthened to enable them to claim damages directly from the tricks/johns for the harm to which they have contributed.
Keywords: Prostitution, Trafficking, Purchase of Sex, Equality, Gender-Based Violence, Swedish Prostitution Law, Foreign Law, Sweden
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