[Statement from the Swedish Women’s Lobby, 17 October 2014] On October 3rd, the newly elected Swedish government was inaugurated and presented the Statement of Government Policy. In the statement, the new Government declared that they are a feminist Government, and one of the concrete proposals they presented was that the purchase of sexual services abroad will be criminalised, something that the women’s movement in Sweden has been calling for for a long time.
“This is great news. We welcome this important proposal for human rights and gender equality”, says Gertrud Åström, President of the Swedish Women’s Lobby.
In Sweden, sex purchase has been prohibited since 1999. The evaluation of the sex purchase act show great results. Street prostitution has been halved since the law was introduced and prostitution has not gone underground as critics had feared. Instead, the law has had a normative effect on Swedish society. The demand for sexual services has been reduced. At the same time, the evaluation shows that sex purchase still occur abroad. Around 80% of all sex purchases by Swedish citizens take place outside of Sweden. There is obviously a difference in the understanding of sex purchase if it takes place in other countries and parts of the world, which is why the Swedish Women’s Lobby believe that the initiative to extend the legislation is important.
“The proposal to criminalise sex purchase abroad is a logical continuation of the sex purchase act. Swedish citizens should not exploit people in Sweden, nor in other countries. Norway has shown that it is possible and now Sweden follows their example”, says Åström.
The Swedish Women’s Lobby has in collaboration with the Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (SKR) and The National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Shelters in Sweden (Roks) worked on a campaign against sex purchase abroad. The project has both proposed an extended law but also that Swedish companies introduce codes of conduct against sex purchase in relation to business trips. Our organisations will continue to be a watchdog at the new Swedish Government, to make sure that this proposed law will become reality.