Last week I’ve read an article by Evie Embrechts, comparing the Swedish and the Dutch take on prostitution. Both countries adopted a defined public policy between 1998 and 2000 and now it is possible to see the impacts of both approaches. Basically in Sweden selling sex is egal – to make sure prostitutes cannot be arrested or blackmailed – and buying sex is illegal: the customer needs to stop abusing his power and make better choices. The Netherlands approach is quite different, in 2000 the laws against brothels and pimping were struck. These forms of prostitution – but not all others – became legal.

Now, 15 years after the implantation of both models it is possible to study the outcome of such models:

There is less trafficking into Sweden. There are fewer men who visit prostitutes (a decrease from one in eight to one in thirteen). The number of prostitutes has decreased since 1999, whereas in other countries the number has increased(20). Swedish society no longer accepts the behaviour of customer-abusers.

In The Netherlands they estimate that between 50% and 90% of women working in legal brothels arrived there via trafficking. It became more difficult to tackle illegal prostitution because it was organised by people who were now, by law, businessmen like any other. These legal pimps also lobby for changes in laws like other businessmen, are sometimes invited to parliamentary discussions etc. Victims of trafficking were found in all brothels including the supervised legal brothels. The legalisation became a laundry operation on a scale never seen before: all these criminals were now simply businessmen who paid taxes and were left alone for the most part.

I strongly suggest reading the entire article in Links Feminisme

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