Prostitution Part V: The Swedish example

This is the finale of a V part series on my views on prostitution. Please, make sure you have read Why Men Suck, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV before this so that it makes sense.

Sweden has followed an interesting path in the legalize or do not legalize prostitution debate. For long periods, prostitution was illegal in Sweden; however, they took their lead from what happened in Australia when confronting the issue. In 1994, Australia decided to legalize prostitution in order to gain control over the trade and reduce organized crime. Unfortunately, legalizing prostitution seemingly invited human traffickers to increase their business. With legalization, the number of brothers, in Victoria alone, increased from 40% to 64% and escort services exploded. Moreover, in brothel busts, police reported finding more and more women who had been trafficked. Therefore, Sweden, in a revolutionary move, decided to legalize the sale of sex while criminalizing the buying of sex. In this scenario, prostitutes were not criminals, but the johns, pimps and brothel owners were. Concurrently, they launched a public awareness campaign warning that “patronizing prostitutes was criminal behavior”.

Personally, I love this response. So often in my field I and other colleagues are faced with victim blaming policies, programs, and advocates. For once, there is a law that condemn the perpetrators of violence and not the victims. Additionally, it allows women who want to be sex workers and control their own lives to do so without being arrested. Like Laura Carr points out, in the article that started this whole discussion, in most cases women are blamed and judged for prostitution while men are innocent paying customers– the Swedish solutions switches that up, and in my mind, puts blame and criminality squarely where it should be.



  1. Again if you look at the section on Sweden on my website you will see that many people have doubts about the Swedish approach which is largely symbolic. There is concern that it has merely increased violence towards sex workers. While the approach is ideologically appealing to those of us concerned about double standards the Swedish philosophy does not correspond to reality – even their own research. Amongst other things this showed that male clients of female sex workers were just ordinary people and not deviants. (This has been confirmed in many other countries now). One should add a note of caution though that the situation in Sweden was also very unusual even before the 1999 law, and prostitution has always been uncommon there.

  2. I agree that ¨male clients of female sex workers were just ordinary people and not deviants.¨ In fact, I think that was one of the things that the author of Why Men Suck was so appauled. The fact that anyone under the right circumstances can buy into a system that is inherintl harmful to the women– and the way the system in Cambodia is set up, it is harmful to the women. Prices are low, risks are high. In other places where sex workers have more authonomy, the situation very well may not be inherintly negative.

  3. The Swedish model has been proven not to work. Well, less men in Sweden are arrested for soliciting. But prostitution has gone underground and become more dangerous, which means sex workers are not benefiting. A paper on this.

    And, I don’t have this link handy, it seems that Swedish men working in other countries are a boon to the prostititution industry in those countries. Obviously, Swedish laws have not managed to stamp out that silly old male desire for sex.

    The only sensible course of legal action is to create safeguards for sex workers AND clients — most importantly for the sex worker though. Prostitution is not something that can be wished or jailed away.

    There may still be negative incidents with legal prostitution, but that’s true with every single industry in the world. Try to show me an industry that doesn’t have corrupt people working within it. Many industries have severe physical and health risks associated with the work, but people still want to do the work.

    The Swedish model is not the answer.


  4. The Swedish ” model” is extremely sexist. It is a reflection of the feminazi culture of that country.

    If they say it is ” gender-neutral” why they only say that is ” male violece against women”?? So in the event that a woman pays a man a dime( ten cents) for sex, is that female violence against men??

    How about those dominatrix-type of prostitutes, where they tie up a man and beat them up, is that still ” male violence agaisnt women”??

    How about if a 14 year old teenage boys pays some 24 year old woman.? That would be technically statuory rape by the woman. So who is the victim here then??

    Frankly, I don’t understand how Swedish men let this law to pass out, how can men be so brainwashed by feminazism in such a way.

    How the hell something that can be legal to sell, can be illegal to buy at the same time? So I guess in Sweden , It is illegal to sell cocaine, but ” legal” to buy cocaine.

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