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

Sex Work Research

Abstract

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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