'Positive Effects' of Swedish Sex Purchase Ban Heavily Exaggerated, New Report Finds

Last year the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, RFSU, commissioned a research report to investigate the effects of the Swedish ban against sex purchase, introduced in 1999. RFSU wanted an independent overview of earlier studies to be used as a foundation for a congressional decision in June 2015.

The report was presented on February 2nd and have received much media attention. In an interview with DN (Dagens Nyheter) published the same day, RFSU´s president Kristina Ljungros, says that there is no evidence that the demand has declined to the extent claimed by the 2010 state-led evaluation and that they are worried on the impact the ban has on sex workers.

The report, conducted by Charlotta Holmström at Malmö University, concludes that the ban´s positive effects have been heavily exaggerated and have led to increased vulnerability for sex workers. Studies that Holmström refers to show that the risks involved in selling sex have increased. The fear of being arrested has led to a situation where clients are seeing sex workers at their chosen venue (home or hotel) instead of meeting them at a place chosen by the sex workers. This means that sex workers are forced to meet clients under unsafe circumstances, as they have no idea who they will meet beforehand.

Holmström says in the DN article that she was mainly surprised that no one had investigated how sex workers said they were impacted by the law. In the DN article she also says that the expressed ambition of the law was to combine it with social support services, which is something that has not been realised to a sufficient degree.

“Without parallel and wide-spread investments in support services, the law seems to achieve different results than what was initially expected,” says Charlotta Holmstöm, accordingly to DN. She also notes that one of the consequences of the law is that the popular support for a prohibition of selling sex seems to have increased, which can be understood as a change in attitudes. The criminalisation of clients has led to an attitude which perceives the person who sells sex as criminal.

Holmström is referring to a study where 52 % of the respondents says that they think that the selling of sexual services also should be criminalised, compared to 30 % before the ban was introduced. President Kristina Ljungfors of RFSU says to DN that this is a change in attitudes that they really don’t want to see, since sex workers are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Ljungros says to DN that the report demonstrates a need to revise the legislation. “I understand the intention with the Swedish law. But if it doesn’t work, we have to consider other alternatives,” she says.


DN 2015-02-02 01:00

Sexköpslag får underkänt.

Published at: http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/sexkopslag-far-underkant/