Buying sexual services has been illegal in Sweden since 1999. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/TT
Buying sexual services has been illegal in Sweden since 1999. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/TT

Sex workers situation not improved by ban

They say they have become stigmatised because of the law"
4:57 min

The ban on buying sex has not had the effect that it intended, according to a review of the research carried out in this field.

Since 1999, it is illegal to buy sex in Sweden - but selling sex is allowed. The idea was that the law would criminalise the buyer, whilst enabling support for the person who was selling sex.

But according to a review ordered by Sweden's leading organisation for sexual and reproductive health, RFSU, there is not enough evidence of the positive effects of the law. At the same time, the review highlights some negative effects that had not been intended. For example, the people selling sex say they have become more stigmatised due to the law.

The ban on buying sex was seen as a strong signal that this is not accepted in Sweden, and a government evaluation in 2010 came to the conclusion that the law had helped cut down on prositution in Sweden and also acted "as a barrier to human traffickers and procurers considering establishing themselves in Sweden".

But Kristina Ljungros, chairman of RFSU, tells Radio Sweden that the figures used in the government evaluation can be questioned. 

"What we tried to do with this report is to actually look at the facts: what do we know about the law and its consequences. We have to take all the consequences of the law into account, and not only the ones that the politicians might like," Kristina Ljungros told Radio Sweden. 

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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