Vice Squad
Saturday, January 05, 2008
More on the Swedish Approach to Prostitution Control

In Sweden, sales of sex are decriminalised, while the (mostly male) purchasers are behaving illegally. This approach, which does not comport with standard Vice Squad precepts, has been receiving substantial attention in Britain. (The "opposite" approach of criminalising sales of sex while giving a de facto pass to the johns also fails to pass through the Vice Squad filter.) A recent Guardian article opens with a story about a purported john ("torsk" is the Swedish term) who is contacted 8 months after his alleged assignation, and eventually fined about $2,400.

Street prostitution seems to be well down in Sweden since the 1999 adoption of the new rules. But street prostitution seems to be declining in many places, in part because of the rise of the internet. Trafficking of sex workers into Sweden from abroad, according to the article, has increased in recent years, though perhaps not by as great an extent as in some nearby countries.

Last week the Guardian's Sunday sister publication, the Observer, contained an op-ed arguing against the Swedish approach. Some letters in rebuttal -- including one from the MP who is sponsoring British legislation that moves prostitution control in the direction of the Swedish model -- appear in this week's Observer.

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