We in the sexindustry KNOW who we are and what we are doing. On this page we refute the Swedish official policy on prostitution and human trafficking with SANSible facts.

The department of economics fact sheet ”Prostitution and trafficking” represents the Swedish official attitude, April 2005, and the government’s information page about “Prostitution and trafficking”.

SANSible facts are based upon experience and knowledge from sexworkers, clients, research and different reports and investigations.

The Swedish official position

Today there exists an official recognition that prostitution is a form of exploitation of women and children and a serious societal problem that hurts both those individuals who is being exploited and society at large.

SANSible facts

The sale of sexual services is a voluntary action and a service that presuppose a mutual considered consent and an agreement between adults, the seller and his/her client[s]. It is not harmful in it self to have sex with strangers or to earn money. Neither does sex harm society.

The Swedish official position

The Swedish government prioritize since a long time the fight against prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes. The work is important to strengthen the women and girls position in society and also an essential part in the Swedish goal for equality between men and women, both nationally and internationally. Equality cannot be achieved as long as men buys, sells and exploit women and children thru prostitution.

SANSible facts

Sexworkers are being discriminated against, and thru that prejudice and stereotypes are being uphold, that also exposes a view where women are seen as not independent or capable of deciding over their own bodies, especially when it comes to sex. Those who say that men are buying our bodies are guilty of maintaining an unequal view of women; we are being objectified as merchandise. Their point of view harms all women and equality can not be achieved as long as such an opinion are allowed to fester.

Women and of course female sexworkers do not accept to be treated in a misogynist way in Sweden and our men does not in general treat women that way. In other countries where they haven’t come as far in the issues of equality, can the relationship between a sexworker and a sexbuyer be different and reflect the normative relationship that exists between men and women in that country.

The Swedish official position

The Swedish government and parliament has thru the legislation for women peace defined prostitution as men’s violence towards women.

SANSible facts

The customer of sexworkers doesn’t differ in their behaviour. They don’t practise violence against sexworkers or has any power over prostitutes. It is expected from the client that he/she show respect just like we show respect to doctors, therapist, masseuses or councillors that also comes close to us. If that respect isn’t there the client is immediately rejected. Often the customer is nervous and unsafe in the situation and don’t want to appear as a person who abuses others while the sexworkers is experienced, safe and comfortable
in the situation.

The Swedish official position

According to statistics from Sweden’s bureau of statistics the public overwhelmingly support the ban on the purchase of sexual services.

SANSible facts

The papers Aftonbladet and Expressen did in the spring of 2007 carry out a reader’s opinion poll that showed the support for the sex-purchase law at only 36 percent.

The Swedish official position

Since the introduction of the law the number of individuals in the outdoor prostitution scene has drastically been reduced according to unanimous information from both the police and social services. The number of men buying sex has been reduced as well as the new recruitment of women into prostitution.

SANSible facts

There exists indication that the sale of sex on the streets has been reduced, but that does NOT mean that all transactions have been reduced or that new recruitment and number of customers have dropped. The sale of sexual services on the street has always been a small part of the overall sale of sexual services in Sweden. There are also indications that the total share of both sexworkers and clients are increasing as a result of the anonymous protection Internet provides as an economic marketplace.

The Swedish official position

According to the police the ban on sexual services function as a barrier against the human traffickers establishes themselves in Sweden.

SANSible facts

There exist no reports that can show that this is true or that the opposite is true. Our empirical history does however show that crime and criminal organizations thrive in the underground where they without competition from legal businesses can exploit a marketplace.

The Swedish official position

Prostitution and trafficking in women are – just like other forms of men’s violence against women – a gender specific occurrence, i.e. the overwhelming majority of the victims are women and girls while the perpetrators are men.

SANSible facts

More boys than girls have experiences in selling sexual services. From the 1st of March to the 31st of august 2005, 27 percent of the sexworkers on the Internet in Stockholm were men.

The Swedish official position

A condition for prostitution and trafficking is men’s demand of women and girls. If men didn’t see themselves as having a natural right to buy and sexually exploit women and girls, prostitution and the trade in human beings for sexual purposes would not be a problem.

SANSible facts

The condition for the sale of sexual services is that both men and women have a human need for sex. This desire is not an obvious right but you can’t always get satisfaction in the way people desire within prevalent norms. Therefore there will always exist people who want to offer sexual services in exchange for money or something else. Sexworkers doesn’t offer their services to people who want to exploit another human being sexually.

The Swedish official position

Human traders and pimps exploit women and girls economical, social, political and judicial inferiority. A clear example is that women who suffer from further repression like racism is overrepresented within the global prostitution industry.

SANSible facts

The sale of sexual services is not the same as sexual slavery. Within the sexindustry there is an opportunity for women to work independently and make a good living. That’s why this alternative attracts more migration workers than domestic women. These women often experience discrimination in other employment markets.

The Swedish official position

In countries where there is progress regarding women and girls living conditions – where women and girls have some basic political rights, access to work, education and an acceptable living standard – the women and girls have more options and is therefore less vulnerable.

SANSible facts

In countries where sexworkers are recognised as a legitimate occupation they are far less exposed to harm and injuries. In these countries the issue of sexworkers are an issue of equality and human rights and recognize that all persons should have the same right to good working conditions and that no professional group can be discriminated against.

The Swedish official position

Those who work with girls and women and who have had experience in prostitution often mentions poor childhoods, discrimination, abuse and lacking in education as reoccurring events in the women’s history.

Reports further more shows that as many as 65-90 percent of prostitutes have been the victim of sexual abuse by male relatives and friends as teenagers.

SANSible facts

The sources for these claims are often missing and so does the relevance for connecting the accusations with the sale of sexual services. The complex problems described exist in all professions and the majority of all drug abusers or women that are exposed to abuse does not sell sexual services. Everybody that is working with people with problems as a result of drug abuse or assault in their childhood knows that destructivity can express it self in many forms.

Certain research about the sale of sexual services only focus on a selection of sexworkers who have problems and are in the need of help for drug abuse or a destructive anxiety disorder as a result of sexual abuse growing up.

The researcher Charlotte Seib PhD have done several studies about prostitution in Queensland, Australia which shows that one in four sexworkers had a university degree or a higher education. 63 percent had steady employment before they started to work as sexworkers. What is the corresponding number for e.g. a personal assistant in Sweden?

The Swedish official position

A lot of children, the majority of them girls, who are sexually exploited, are initiated early into prostitution when the perpetrators sell them on. According to international reports it is estimated that the average age for girls introduction to prostitution is around 14 years.

SANSible facts

The slave trade is not the same as the sale of sexual services. The average age for girl’s entrance into prostitution are globally seen as irrelevant as to which laws and policies to implement in Sweden. We have laws in Sweden to protect children from sexual abuse.

The Swedish official position

The men who buy and exploit women and girls have for a long time been assumed to act out a “natural” male sexual need, Their under laying motives have seldom been investigated or even questioned. The focus have instead been aimed at the females and girls despite it is the mans sexual wishes and behaviour who are the cause of prostitution.

Who are these men who sees it as their right to be able to buy women and girls bodies and expose them for humiliating and painful sexual assaults? According to the latest report (from the institute of public health) one in eight Swedish men buy sex sometime under their lifetime.

They represent a cross section of Swedish men in all ages and come from all social classes. The majority are married or cohabitate and have children.

SANSible facts

The sale of sexual services is a voluntary professional service that presupposes a mutual considered consent and agreement between adults, the seller and his/her client[s]. Without this mutual consent we’re not dealing with the sale of a sexual services, but rather forced sexuality and therefore sexualized violence or sexual trafficking.

Men who buy sexual services do not exploit sexworkers. It is human beings with a need for sex and peoples need for money and work that is the cause of prostitution. The clients don’t see their purchases of sexual services as a right and doesn’t expose the sexworker for humiliating or painful sexual abuses.

The Swedish official position

The buyer has money, stability, education and power and differs significantly from the women from whose services they buy. In a report of boys between 16 and 25 years in Stockholm 2000, nearly 10 percent claimed to some time have purchased a “sexual service.”

SANSible facts

Men, women and couples buy sexual services and they don’t differ from the average population in any way.

How successful you are in equality between the sexes is of course going show up in every role we have as women and men. We have a norm in Sweden that all human beings have the same worth regardless of gender. This norm is of course the same in the Swedish sexindustry. The sexworker have money, stability, education and power and thus differ from many of their clients.

The Swedish official position

A false image of prostitution is shown in film, advertising, music, fashion, Internet and literature and other media simultaneous with a sexualized and objectified portrayal of women and girls.

SANSible facts

In Sweden their is only one political correct opinion that is allowed to be expressed by politicians, police and social workers, and in official reports and media – the one about that the sex-purchase law is good, that it helps sexworkers and is effective against trafficking. This image, based on what is believed and not on fact, is now being exported to other countries.

The Swedish official position

The violence the buyers, pimps and traffickers regularly exposes women and girls for are trivialized. Women and children in prostitution are exposed to assault, rape, threats, torture, unwanted pregnancies, infertility, damages to the skeleton, genitals and anus, humiliation and degradation. They also risk being infected with sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, by the buyers and pimps.

All these actions harm and seriously violate women. That the abuses occur for pay does in no way reduce the extreme physiological and psychological injuries on the body and soul.

SANSible facts

Customers can expose sexworkers for violence. The sale of sexual services is a high-risk occupation, the same is true for occupations like police officer or social worker and demands that the sexworker is careful and incorporates high security thinking. Risk and violence towards sexworkers has increased with the current legislation.

It is within the sexual trafficking and not within the sale of sexual services that threats, assault, rape, etc. is common and then from pimps and traffickers and NOT from the customers. There is no market for selling rape, what there is a demand for is soft, nice and regular sex.

Sexworkers are extremely aware of their sexual health and practises safe sex constantly and they also get health check ups more often than the average population.

The Swedish official position

International research shows that prostituted women get the same emotional damage as war veterans and victims of torture. They have the same symptoms in the form of flashbacks, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and stress. Suicide and suicide attempts are common. A Canadian report showed that prostituted women run a 40 times higher risk than women in general to be murdered.

SANSible facts

References are missing for the research above. The scientist Charlotte Seib PhD has done a thorough study of prostitution in Queensland, Australia. Her paper showed that female sexworkers who works legally in brothels or has a license to work from home as escorts have the same sort of satisfaction with their job and feels just as well psychologically as women in the public population does.

The Swedish official position

One of the most important conditions for the international sextrade in women are the existence of local prostitution markets where men can and will sell and buy women and children to abuse them sexually. The traffickers send women and children from countries in the south to countries in the north and from east to west – where the demand is the largest. The work to fight all forms of human trade must therefore include different measures to counteract the demand that promotes all forms of exploitation of humans that leads to a trade in human beings.

SANSible facts

Traffickers exist all over the world, even within and between poor and underdeveloped countries. It isn’t the demand for a sort of work or services in it self that render it possible for the human trade to exist. The human trade occurs foremost in industries other than the sexindustry and to stop the demand or all work that is being performed by slaves in the world is therefore impossible. We demand diamonds even though we know they can have been dig up by a child in Africa under slave like conditions. The human trade from poor countries to rich happens because of poverty, low wages and high unemployment in their home nations and a lack of information about foreign work.

The Swedish official position

The law against the purchase of sexual services went into effect on the 1st of January 1999. On the 1st of July 2002 was the law against human trade for sexual purposes introduced as a new crime in Sweden and on the 1st of July 2004 was the punishment extended to include the human trade within this nations borders and human trade for purposes other than sexual purposes, e.g. forced labour or the trade in organs. These laws are important instruments to prevent and fight the trade with humans and to protect the persons, mainly women and children that are or risk getting involved in prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation.

SANSible facts

It is not logical to argue for a sex-purchase law as relevant for the human trade. Trafficking exists for other purposes than sexual services. It isn’t the industry it self that facilitates the trade in human beings.

A new report from the International Organization for Migration, IOM, shows that the trade in human beings up to 75 percent concern slavery in other areas than prostitution. Are people willing to criminalize everybody who hires help for agriculture because people are being forced by traffickers to labour in the fields?

It does not exist any contradiction between arguing for decriminalization of the sale of sexual services and to fight against sexual trafficking. The sale of sexual services in Germany is legalized. The German police who are working against trafficking don’t oppose their own legislation, because it doesn’t make their job harder. We in the business advocate a decriminalization and better working conditions for sexworkers. Because in the underground thrives profiteers, pimps and traffickers – and we would rather avoid them.

What is needed is correct information that helps us identify human trade, signs that you should be aware of as a citizen, sexbuyer or seller, police, social worker or nurse. We need cooperation, practical action and creative ideas. But to achieve this cooperation, the whore stigma must be opposed, otherwise the organizations and authorities cannot work with us in the business with the ideas and solutions for the problems that we actually have.