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Witness: Ruth Nordström – Why Sweden leads the way in tackling human trafficking and the sex trade

criminalising-purchase-of-sexual-servicesIn a penultimate contribution to the ‘Witness’ series, Ruth Nordström, President of Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, discusses the Swedish ban against the purchase of sexual services and its contribution to the fight against trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The Swedish ban is considered an important reference point in Europe’s policy approach towards the sex trade.

An analysis of the impact of the ‘Swedish model’ is at the heart of a Parliamentary Assembly investigation into human trafficking and the sex trade,which will see a report presented by José Mendes Bota, its General Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, to the assembly’s April Spring session.

A preview of this report will be outlined tomorrow by assembly administrator Giorgio Loddo, as the final part of this ‘Witness’ series.

  • Witness 1 : Livia Aninosanu – Loverboys, minors and the sex trade
  • Witness 2 : Roshan Heiler – Human trafficking and the sex trade in Aachen
  • Witness 3: Sonja Dolinsek – Is anti-trafficking really a fight against sex work? Web Chat Q & A

The Swedish ban against the purchase of sexual services

When I met with the Parliamentary Assembly’s Rapporteur José Mendes Bota at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last June (photo), we compared the Swedish Sex Purchase Act with other European countries’ legislation on prostitution. Could the ‘Swedish model’ be an example for Europe?

In 1999, Sweden became the first country in the world to criminalize the purchase of sex. The ‘Swedish model’ – a ban against the purchase but not the sale, of sexual services – is gaining support across Europe. The criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services targets the demand, the sex-buyer and the prospective sex-buyer.