European Network Against Trafficking in Human Beings

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The “Swedish Model” - Talk Delivered at Beijing Plus Ten Meetings

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The “Swedish Model” - Talk Delivered at Beijing Plus Ten Meetings
Don Kulick
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Document type(s)
Meeting Documentation/Conference Reports,
Prostitution; Sex work; Unionisation of sex workers; Clients, Abolitionism; New Abolitionism; Prohibitionism; Regulationism, Women's rights; Women; Control and regulation of prostitution, Protection, Punishable forms of prostitution,
“The Swedish model refers to a strong, state-sanctioned stance that holds that all forms of prostitution are, by definition, violence and must therefore be eradicated. The Swedish model arises from two main sources. The first is Nordic Social Democratic forms of governmentality that sanction the state to regulate sexuality not out of religious or overtly moral concerns, but, instead, out of rationally arrived at assessments about the greater public good. The second source of the Swedish model is radical feminist understandings of sexuality. These understandings see individual sexual acts as microenactments of social hierarchies, and argue that social change both reflects and depends on changes in each individual’s sexual behavior. In 1999, Sweden passed a law making it a criminal offense to purchase sexual services. Selling sex remained legal; the criminal act was the purchase of sexual services. Consequences of the law for street prostitutes in Sweden • driven to accepting more clients, and more unstable and dangerous clients • have strong incentive not to carry or use condoms • increased risk of venereal diseases and HIV • are increasingly out of touch with social workers • increased police harassment • are arrested and immediately deported if undocumented • unwilling to report violent clients or pimps (especially if undocumented) • number of sex ads on the Internet on the rise • clients no longer willing to provide evidence against violent or exploitative profiteers”
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