Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sweden: Legalising Prostitution is Not the Answer

Last month, Captive Diaries posted an article about similar findings in Germany

A new report backs the effectiveness of an 11-year-old Swedish law that criminalises those who pay for or attempt to pay for sex.
Photograph: Suvad Mrkonjic/Scanpix/PA Photos

SWEDEN -- It is rare to have academic consensus on controversial areas of study, but currently in the UK it seems that the vast majority of academics studying prostitution and the sex industry are in agreement. It is almost impossible to find even a handful involved in this massively expanding area of study that will deviate from the opinion that the sex industry should be legalised or decriminalised, and that penalising sex buyers has a negative effect on those selling sexual services. Most academic studies produced in the past few years conclude that little harm is caused to those involved in prostitution, despite the thousands of testimonies on record of survivors of this abusive trade.

Today, Förbud mot köp av sexuell tjänst: en utvärdering 1999-2008 (Prohibition of the Purchase of a Sexual Service: an Evaluation 1999-2008), a report on the evaluation of the 11-year-old Swedish law that criminalises those who pay for or attempt to pay for sex, is released, and its conclusion is that the legislation has been overwhelmingly positive for all (except the pimps, traffickers and punters, of course). I hope it will put paid to the scores of assertions bandied about during the past decade that the law has been detrimental to those in prostitution as well as to wider society.

In a letter to a newspaper dated January 2006, Belinda Brooks-Gordon, reader in psychology and social policy at Birkbeck and an enthusiastic lobbyist for a repeal of all prostitution laws, wrote in response to the Home Office's 2004 green paper on prostitution, Paying the Price: "The government's idiosyncratic attention to the evidence base neglects the vast body of research, which shows that Sweden's policy of criminalising buyers of commercial sex is not progressive but rather that it is retrogressive, dangerous, unworkable and expensive …"


Kristof: Seduction, Slavery and Sex

NEW YORK TIMES -- Against all odds, this year’s publishing sensation is a trio of thrillers by a dead Swede relating tangentially to human trafficking and sexual abuse.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series tops the best-seller lists. More than 150 years ago, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” helped lay the groundwork for the end of slavery. Let’s hope that these novels help build pressure on trafficking as a modern echo of slavery.

Human trafficking tends to get ignored because it is an indelicate, sordid topic, with troubled victims who don’t make great poster children for family values. Indeed, many of the victims are rebellious teenage girls — often runaways — who have been in trouble with their parents and the law, and at times they think they love their pimps.

Because trafficking gets ignored, it rarely is a top priority for law enforcement officials — so it seems to be growing. Various reports and studies, none of them particularly reliable, suggest that between 100,000 and 600,000 children may be involved in prostitution in the United States, with the numbers increasing.

Just last month, police freed a 12-year-old girl who they said had been imprisoned in a Knights Inn hotel in Laurel, Md. The police charged a 42-year-old man, Derwin Smith, with human trafficking and false imprisonment in connection with the case.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department said that Mr. Smith met the girl in a seedy area, had sex with her and then transported her back and forth from Washington, D.C., to Atlantic City, N.J., while prostituting her.

“The juvenile advised that all of the money made was collected and kept by the suspect,” the police department said in a statement. “At one point, the victim conveyed to the suspect that she wanted to return home, but he held her against her will.”

Just two days later, the same police force freed three other young women from a Garden Inn about a block away. They were 16, 19 and 23, and police officials accused a 23-year-old man, Gabriel Dreke-Hernandez, of pimping them...