Sex Work: The Swedish Model

Asijiki Fact Sheet

Asijiki (2015). Sex Work: The Swedish Model. Asijiki Fact Sheet. Asijiki: Cape Town, South Africa.

The Swedish model to regulate sex work was introduced in Sweden in 1999 and subsequently in Norway (2009), Iceland (2009) and Canada (2014). It does not criminalise the selling of sex but it does criminalise the buying of sex and other activities surrounding sex work, including running a brothel.

Historically, there have not been many sex workers in Sweden, and they have not constituted a very visible minority. The Swedish government adopted this law with the goal that it would deter those who would otherwise purchase sexual services and so reduce the number of people selling sex by reducing its financial appeal. The premise of this law is that sex work should not exist, even where there are people who are willing to do the work voluntarily. This fact sheet discusses the Swedish model of sex work law reform and its impact on sex workers and society.