In Sweden, prostitution is regarded as a form of exploitation towards women and children that is not only harmful to the individual prostituted woman or child, but also to society at large.
The Swedish Government has given combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes top priority. Sweden has legislation that rest of the world looks to for combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes. It is important to realize that his legislation was possible because it was adopted under the objective of achieving equality between men and women.
The Swedish Government purports that gender equality will remain unattainable as long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them. (Swedish Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications, April 2005). The Swedish Government stands by the notion that prostitution is a gender specific phenomenon, where the majority of victims are overwhelmingly women and young girls, while the perpetrators are invariably men. It is stated in the Swedish Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications, April 2005 correspondence that: If men did not regard it as their self-evident right to buy and sexually exploit women and children, prostitution and trafficking in human beings for sexual purposes would not exist. The link between human trafficking for sexual purposes and prostitution is also clearly enunciated by the Swedish Government where it is stated that: International trafficking in human beings could not flourish but for the existence of local prostitution markets where men are willing and able to buy and sell women and children for sexual exploitation.
Since January 1, 1999, purchasing, or attempting to purchase, sexual services (in Sweden) is a criminal offence, punishable by fines or up to six months imprisonment. The women and children who are victims or prostitution and trafficking do not risk any legal repercussions.
Swedish Penal Code, Chapter 6, Section 11
A person who, in other cases that previously stated in this chapter, obtains a casual sexual relation in exchange for payment shall be sentence for the purchase of a sexual service to a fine or imprisonment for at most six months.
That which is stated in the first section also applies if the payment has been promised or made by someone else.
We will continue to examine how this legislation was passed in Sweden…did the women’s rights movement play a role in making this legislation possible or where there other factors that came into play? Stay tuned…