Sweden’s abolitionist discourse and law: Effects on the dynamics of Swedish sex work and on the lives of Sweden’s sex workers

Since 1999 Sweden decided to criminalized the buyers of sex, while sex workers are ok to sell sex but not in public areas. Yet the whole affair seemed more than illogical for me, firstly how would women survive if no sex purchase allowed? They need money and of all options some gone this way, must be reasons. Secondly it ended up everything have to speed up, especially on screening process, and sad to say quite a few got killed/badly harmed because not enough time to screen their clients and calculate the level of risks they would take on the clients. Thirdly (possibly lastly) the stigmas remain intact with the society, which not just stopped SWs from seeking help, but also not tackling precisely either the problems that drove them to sex work in the first place or causing other unnecessary problems such as being “rescued” in a wrong way.

Sex Work Research


The Swedish criminalization of the purchase of sex aims to abolish prostitution through targeting the demand, while decriminalizing those selling sex in an ostensible effort to protect sex workers – constructed as passive victims of gendered violence – from criminalization. Drawing from authors’ research and that of others, this article discusses the sex purchase law (sexköpslagen), exploring some of its impacts on the lives of sex workers and the dynamics of Swedish prostitution.

We argue that the law has failed in its abolitionist ambition to decrease levels of prostitution, since there are no reliable data demonstrating any overall decline in people selling sex. Furthermore, we argue that the law has resulted…

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