In 1999, Sweden became the first country in the world to criminalise the purchase of sexual services – in other words, it became illegal in Sweden to buy sex. The main reason for this is the direct link between prostitution and human trafficking. If you intervene to reduce demand, so the logic goes, then supply will also decline. And that has to be good news for women.
The Swedish ban on the purchase of sexual services was recently evaluated by the government, which found that prostitution had not increased since 1999, and street prostitution had halved. It also appears that the Swedish ban has not caused street prostitution to move online, as it has in neighbouring countries. And the law is proving a strong deterrent to human traffickers looking for a place to set up shop.
Sweden’s Justice Minister, Beatrice Ask, says she hopes other nations will follow the path her country has taken. Australian states need to do more to combat and prevent prostitution, and the Swedish model should certainly be considered.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 10 April 2011.