Friday 28 July 2017

Sweden shows how ban on paying for sex will combat abuse and human trafficking

In Sweden, prostitution is widely seen as a form of violence against women - both a cause and a consequence of inequality between women and men
In Sweden, prostitution is widely seen as a form of violence against women - both a cause and a consequence of inequality between women and men

Kajsa Wahlberg

Last week the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, which includes laws to criminalise the purchase of sex and ensure vulnerable women, children and men in prostitution can access support, was passed by Dáil Éireann. It is now just one hurdle away from enactment.

Earlier this month, Detective Superintendent Kajsa Wahlberg, Swedish National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, visited Ireland to discuss the impact of similar legislation in Sweden, the first country in the world to make paying for sex a criminal offence while simultaneously decriminalising the sale. She discusses the Swedish experience here.

In Sweden, prostitution is widely seen as a form of violence against women - both a cause and a consequence of inequality between women and men. At its heart, the Sex Purchase Act, which has been in force since 1999, was designed to tackle this form of violence by discouraging men from paying for sex, while supporting those exploited through prostitution to exit and rebuild their lives. Access to effective support and exiting services for women exploited through the sex trade is essential to the success of the law.

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