Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sweden: Country Battles Sex Trafficking

Police enforce the Swedish law that targets only the purchaser of sexual services. Photo: Mikael Göthage / Scanpix.

SWEDEN - In Sweden, around 400-600 women a year are forced into the sex trade as victims of human trafficking. The figure is low by international standards, but Sweden remains engaged to further the fight against human trafficking.

Sweden has a unique law criminalizing those who purchase sex. The law, which was passed in 1999 and prohibits the purchase of sexual services, targets only the purchaser. The penalty is a fine or up to six months’ imprisonment. In Norway, similar legislation is being prepared, while Finland already prohibits the purchase of sexual services, but only if the woman is a victim of trafficking.

Anders Oljelund, the Swedish Government’s ambassador for international cooperation against human trafficking, says: “Our Swedish law is good as it focuses on the demand side. If there was no demand, there wouldn’t be any trafficking.

“All men who are thinking about buying sex should bear in mind that it’s usually trafficking victims who are affected.”

Legislation under review

Part of Sweden’s effort against trafficking involves constantly changing and updating rules and laws. In 2002, a law was passed that specifically outlaws human trafficking for sexual purposes. This law, however, has come in for a certain amount of criticism on the grounds that it is difficult to enforce and that few perpetrators are actually convicted. In most cases, the offences are classed as procuring, for which the scale of punishment is lower and which is considered a crime against the state rather than against a private individual...


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