Vice Squad
Monday, September 10, 2007
British Prostitution Policy to Follow Sweden?

There is talk within the British government of adopting the Swedish approach to prostitution regulation, in which purchasing sex is made illegal while sales are decriminalized. (In Britain, prostitution per se is legal, though related activities such as solicitation, kerb-crawling, and living off the proceeds, are illegal.) In the linked Guardian article, one MP draws a parallel with slavery, by noting the need for a "Wilberforce moment" that renders buyers just as guilty as sellers (where "sellers" presumably refers to traffickers, and "buyers" to johns). This approach seems to accept the "all prostitution is coercion" viewpoint.

The Guardian also provides a rejoinder, entitled "Selling Sex is a Choice," that explains why the Swedish model should be eschewed. One reason is that coercion is far from the norm: "Ideologically unpalatable though it may be to some, the majority of women involved in prostitution have made a choice to sell sex, because they see no alternative way of earning what can sometimes be substantial sums of money." The rejoinder is written by Diane Taylor, co-author of a new memoir of a street prostitute.

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