human sex trafficking and prostitution are cynically viewed as the oldest professions in the world. Is that any excuse for sustaining it? According to Sweden, the answer to that question is "No!"

Sex trafficking and prostitution in Sweden is no longer a problem

In 1999 Sweden wrote into law that prostitution is not a crime but (and this is a big but) those people who partake in sex with prostitutes are performing an act of criminality. By legalizing prostitutes, male and female, the law extended a hand of friendship to those people caught in the web of sex for sale. It opened doors for them to obtain sound medical advice and counseling and removed them from being targeted by law enforcers.

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Conversely, it criminalized the act of procuring prostitutes for sexual acts and in so doing, caused the demand to drop drastically. The Swedes made the decision based on the fact that procurement of a prostitute is an infringement of her/his human rights and therefore a form of abuse, thus making it illegal to buy sex in Sweden.

Procurement numbers dropped significantly

Prostitution halved in the following ten year period and it wasn't long before major cities no longer had prostitutes on their streets.

Stop Human trafficking - Image | FBI | US Gov
Stop Human trafficking - Image | FBI | US Gov

Yet it was by no means all plain sailing and initially few arrests were made. Naysayers were delighted as statistics indicated prostitution, which had been legal for some time prior to the changed legislation appeared to continue unabated. Sweden made more changes. They provided funds to assist prostitutes wanting to leave the field, ensuring ongoing counseling and training in job skills. Still, there were no significant changes.

Sex trafficking only declined after police received training

With no exceptions, from the top legal counsel and judges, down to the rookie cop, the law enforcers received training about the cycles of abuse and cruelty inflicted on prostitutes.

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The effect was immediate and the Swedes began to clean up their sex trade act.

According to a USA government report, Sweden, like most of Europe, has had an influx of refugees from both Eastern Europe and the Middle East causing human trafficking figures to rise slightly, but the government is committed to upholding the law and newcomers are interviewed and educated on the trafficking laws.

Needless to say, the Swedish stance is not popular and articles for and against abound online via both charitable and government pages.

It seems the subject remains driven worldwide by patriarchal thinking with some decrying that the prostitutes were not involved in the decision-making process around the laws and even presenting veiled arguments that women may choose to be prostitutes. Perhaps they do in the event they owe drug dealers money or if they are desperate to feed their children but the assistance offered by Sweden is addressing that issue.

Ivanka Trump has been blasted for her tweet on this subject but perhaps the real question we should be asking is where do the powerful and influential people stand on this issue and why is it too often a subject met with deafening silence?

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Sweden says it's working. It is time to start lobbying our own governments to give it a try. After all, what have we got to lose?

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