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

Max Waltman

University of Michigan Law School, Center for International & Comparative Law; University of Michigan, Department of Political Science ; Stockholm University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 16, 2011

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Waltman, Max, Sweden’s Prohibition of Purchase of Sex: The Law’s Reasons, Impact, and Potential (August 16, 2011). Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 34, No. 5, pp. 449-474, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1910657

Max Waltman (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School, Center for International & Comparative Law ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

University of Michigan, Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Stockholm University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stockholm University
Stockholm, 106 91
Sweden

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