Monday, October 08, 2007
A Cost of the Swedish Model of Prostitution Control?
The social costs of different types of prostitution vary quite a bit, with coerced prostitution being much more objectionable than the adult voluntary trade. Internationally trafficked women who are coerced into prostitution are particularly vulnerable, as generally they have no resources to summon help. So it sometimes happens that they inform a customer of their plight. In Sussex, in the UK, the police are asking customers to be vigilant in looking for signs of coercion, and to report it to the police.
In Sweden, customers of prostitutes are engaging in illegal activity, though the behavior of the prostitutes themselves is not criminalised. Is it likely that Swedish johns would report coerced prostitution to the police, knowing that they might then be subject to arrest? As in the case of drugs, alcohol, and other vices, prostitution policy can't be judged based upon the noble intentions that underlie a policy -- we have to ask about the actual effects. The criminalisation of prostitution renders prostitutes, particularly streetwalkers, at enormous risk of being a victim of violence. The criminalisation of johns, likewise, might not conduce to the safety of prostitutes.
Thanks to SWOP East Sex Workers Outreach Project for the pointer.