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In Sweden it is illegal to pay for sex (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute).

Sweden considers prostitution a form of violence against women, so the crime consists in the customer paying for sex, not in the prostitute selling sexual services.[1][2]

This law which makes it illegal to pay for sex, but not to be a prostitute was adopted in 1999, and at that time it was unique; since then a similar law was adopted by Norway (in 2009)[3] and by Iceland (in 2009).[4]

Several European countries have discussed or are currently discussing adopting a similar legal system. [5]

The reasons behind this law are the Swedish government's belief that prostitution is a form of exploitation of women and male dominance over women (see feminist arguments against prostitution) and the need to prevent human trafficking and crime. The law, however, is gender neutral. The gender of both the seller and the buyer is not a factor in the law, making it equally forbidden to buy sexual services from male prostitutes as from female prostitutes, regardless of the gender of the buyer.

The law was put in effect on 1 January 1999 and inserted into the Criminal code on 1 April 2005. The penalty is a fine or prison of maximum of six months. So far, the law has led to about 1650 [6] convictions, but nobody has been sentenced to prison.

The effects of this law are not clear. Several studies were conducted, but the results were contradictory, and these studies were accused of being biased and lacking neutrality.

The law enjoys wide public support in Sweden. A recent survey shows that 80% of Swedes "support the law and the principles behind its development".[7] Opinion polls conducted by the opinion and social research consultancy, SIFO, in 1999, and again two years later, showed a rise – from 76% to 81% – in the number of people who favoured this law. The percentage of respondents who wanted the law to be repealed was 15% in 1999 and 14% two years later. The rest "didn't know".[8] In another survey, 71% of Swedes said they supported the ban on paying for sex (they wanted the law to remain on the books).[9][10] However, the same survey showed a very interesting thing: despite the fact that most Swedes approve of the law, only 20% of respondents believe the number of people who pay for sex has been reduced.

A 2005 sex survey conducted online by Durex has shown that out of the 34 countries surveyed, Sweden had the lowest percentage of respondents who had paid for sex (3% of those who answered the question, however the respondents were both men and women, which suggests that more than 3% of men have bought sex, since most clients are male). The highest percentage of people who have paid for sex was in Vietnam, followed by Hong Kong and Thailand.[11] However, some peoplehave questioned the reliability of this survey.

The law, however, has also received much criticism. The main criticism of this legal system is that outlawing prostitution pushes it underground, on the black market. [12][13][14][15]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Sweden Treating Prostitution as Violence Against". Sisyphe.org. 20 December 2004. http://sisyphe.org/spip.php?article1424. Retrieved 31 December 2009.  
  2. ^ Casciani, Dominic (2004-07-16). "Prostitution: International answers". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3900361.stm. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  
  3. ^ "New Norway law bans buying of sex". BBC News. 31 December 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7806760.stm. Retrieved 31 December 2009.  
  4. ^ Fréttir / A new law makes purchase of sex illegal in Iceland 21.4.2009 Jafnréttisstofa
  5. ^ "New government could ban buying sex". The Copenhagen Post. 29 June 2009. http://www.cphpost.dk/news/politics/90-politics/46107-new-government-could-ban-buying-sex.html. Retrieved 31 December 2009.  
  6. ^ "Scotland's Sex Trade Fight Looks To Success Of Swedish Model". Daily Record. 13 March 2008. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/editors-choice/2008/03/13/scotland-s-sex-trade-fight-looks-to-success-of-swedish-model-86908-20349217/. Retrieved 31 December 2009.  
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ [4]
  11. ^ [5]
  12. ^ "Critics hit out at sex law plan". BBC News. 20 December 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7154980.stm. Retrieved 31 December 2009.  
  13. ^ "Sweden's sex law: Get the customer". MSNBC. 15 March 2008. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23651087/. Retrieved 31 December 2009.  
  14. ^ "Sweden's prostitution law attracting world interest". The Seattle Times. 16 March 2008. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004285483_johns16.html. Retrieved 31 December 2009.  
  15. ^ "Sweden's prostitutes ply their trade on the Net". The Age. 16 January 2003. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/16/1042520720227.html. Retrieved 31 December 2009.  

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