Violence, Sex or Work? Claims-making against the Swedish ban on the purchase of sexual services on the Internet

1        INTRODUCTION

An intense debate and political struggle is taking place both internationally and in many countries on whether prostitution should be considered as violence or work, as an expression of coercion or as agency, and whether the provider of sexual services should be seen as unfree or free (Sanders, O’Neill and Pitcher, 2009). Sweden represents a quite unique context in this debate, as all political parties represented in the Swedish parliament, from left to right, are in favour of the Swedish ban on the purchase of sexual services. This legislation was introduced in 1999 and, at the time, was controversial because it defines prostitution as violence against women and only criminalises the purchase of sexual services and not their sale. In this way Sweden introduced a new system of regulating prostitution, a ‘Swedish model’, which did not fit previously adopted regulatory systems and ‘prostitution regimes’ (Skillbrei and Holmström, 2011).

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