Prostitution in Sweden: debates and policies 1980–2004

Yvonne Svanström

in International approaches to prostitution

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9781861346728
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302612 | DOI:
Prostitution in Sweden: debates and policies 1980–2004

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This chapter explains the move in 1999 to a new policy that criminalises only the clients of prostitutes. There seems to have been consensus regarding questions on prostitution within the academic community during the 1980s. Research in the 1990s and current research on prostitution in Sweden has a broader disciplinary scope. In the 1990s, the question of whether prostitution should be regarded as exploitation of women or as a trade dominated the debate. The existing laws and policies, and the operation of laws and policies on Swedish prostitution, are also explored. The debates on the legalisation and decriminalisation of Swedish prostitution are then addressed. The chapter explains that some of the different institutions involved in upholding the law are still reluctant to do so, and that at times they seem to look upon prostitution as sex work rather than exploitation.

Keywords: Swedish prostitution; Sweden; sex work; women exploitation; legalisation; decriminalisation; laws; policies

Chapter.  8898 words. 

Subjects: Comparative and Historical Sociology

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