The Governments of France and Sweden have just announced their joint decision to develop a common strategy for combatting human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Europe and globally.
In a joint statement, the two countries announce:
France and Sweden have taken a clear position against normalizing prostitution as work. Our view is that prostitution should always be perceived as an exploitation of someone’s vulnerability – thus prostitution should never be considered a job. To consider prostitution as legal ‘sex work’, decriminalizing the sex industry in general and making procuring legal is not a solution to keeping women and children in vulnerable situations safe from violence and exploitation, but has the opposite effect and expose them to higher level of violence, while at the same time encouraging prostitution markets — and thus the number of women and children suffering abuse — to grow.
Together with several other countries, France and Sweden have introduced legislation where the purchase of sexual services constitutes a criminal act, but decriminalizing the person in prostitution. Instead, this person would be offered assistance to exit prostitution. This legislation (known as the Nordic Model) focuses on the sex buyer, and has proven effective both to decrease demand and to decrease prostitution. The legislation has been in place for twenty years in Sweden with very positive results; demand has decreased substantially, there are few people in prostitution and Sweden is considered a market of low interest for trafficking for sexual exploitation.
In 2016, France enacted a regulation similar to the Swedish legislation, introducing the criminalization of the purchase of sex, the full decriminalization of persons in prostitution, and the creation of a nation-wide public exit, protection and assistance policy for victims of prostitution, pimping, procuring and trafficking. The French government firmly believes that this legislation will prove as effective in France as in Sweden.
The legislation in France has seen challenges, but on February 1, 2019, the French Supreme Court validated the legislation. A recent survey in France shows that 78% of the population support the legislation and 74% believe the purchase of sex to be a form of violence.