The 'Nordic Model' of Sex Work A fig leaf for politicians, at the expense of sex workers.

By Tom Deckard June 10. 2021

Conservative circles praise the "Nordic Model" as a solution to the "problem" of prostitution. This model, first introduced in Sweden and therefore formerly known as the "Swedish Model", is a law that does not punish the sale of sexual services, but only the purchase. Sex workers therefore remain unpunished, clients are punished. In addition, there are more incentives for sex workers to make it easier for them to switch to other jobs.

The main motivation for this and similar models of prohibition is always cited as human trafficking and abuse, which is said to make up a large part of the sex trade.

Sex Work Demo Berlin 2015, photo: h3xtacy

Studies published by the supporters of the model show of course a positive effect with a reduction of exploitation and trafficking.

However, what these studies conceal and independent studies prove is the following:

Update August 2023: The European Court of Human Rights declares admissible the actions of persons lawfully engaged in prostitution who claim to be victims of the law criminalizing the purchase of prostitution services (Nordic Model).

As organisations of sex workers confirm, the development and application of the "Nordic Model of Prostitution" was never about the welfare of women, men and transsexuals. The few inputs the developers received were completely ignored. The "Nordic Model" only serves as a fig leaf for politicians to show conservative voters that something is being done. With the presentation of the embellished studies, they are quickly satisfied, and the actual well-being of those affected is of no importance to them anyway.

From countries with regulated sex work, such as Switzerland or Germany, we know that the proportion of human trafficking in the erotic industry is comparable to that in geriatric care. It is therefore by no means justified to place the entire sex industry under general suspicion, as the view of strongly moralising circles demands.

Those who promote the "Nordic Model of Prostitution" are at best ignorant and ill-informed, blinded by religious fundamentalism, or profiteers from strengthening the black market. In any case, as a supporter, one proves one's inhumane attitude because one ignores the needs of those affected.

See also the article "The voices of sex workers".