02 July 2010
Ministry of Justice
Evaluation of the ban on purchase of sexual services
The Inquiry on evaluation of the ban on purchase of sexual services today submitted its report Förbud mot köp av sexuell tjänst (Prohibition of the purchase of sexual services). En utvärdering 1999-2008 (An evaluation 1999-2008) (SOU 2010:49) to Minister for Justice Beatrice Ask. The purpose of the evaluation was to investigate how the prohibition, which has been in force for over ten years, works in practice and what effects it has had on the incidence of prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes in Sweden.
The evaluation shows that the ban on the purchase of sexual services has had the intended effect and is an important instrument in preventing and combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes.
Effects of the ban
The Inquiry concluded that prostitution in Sweden, unlike in comparable countries, has not in any case increased since the introduction of the ban. The ban on the purchase of sexual services has also counteracted the establishment of organised crime in Sweden. Hence criminalisation has contributed to combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes.
Prohibiting purchases of sexual services also has a normative effect. There has been a marked change in attitude to the purchase of sexual services that coincides with making it a criminal offence to buy sex. There is now strong support for the ban on purchasing sexual services in Sweden. The ban has proved to act as a deterrent to sex purchasers. The Inquiry could find no indication that criminalisation has had a negative effect on people exploited through prostitution.
Application of the ban
The investigation of the application of the ban shows that, following an initial period of some uncertainty, police officers and prosecutors now consider that, in general, the application works well. However, it is clear that the effectiveness of application depends on the resources deployed and the priorities made within the judicial system.
The Inquiry stresses the value and necessity of continued and sustained social work to prevent and combat prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes. Efforts must be coordinated if this work is to succeed. Consequently the Inquiry proposes the establishment of a national centre tasked with coordinating efforts against prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes.
The Inquiry also proposes that the maximum penalty for the purchase of sexual services be raised from imprisonment for six months to imprisonment for one year. The examination of case law made by the Inquiry shows that there is a need to be able to make a more nuanced assessment in more serious cases of the purchase of sexual services than is possible within the current penalty scale for the offence. According to the Inquiry, the current level of penalties for certain sexual purchase offences is not proportionate to the seriousness of the crime.
In the opinion of the Inquiry, a person exploited through prostitution may be regarded as the injured party in purchases of sexual services. The issue of whether the person exploited is to be regarded as the injured party must be determined in each individual case.
Press Secretary to Beatrice Ask
Chancellor of Justice
+46 8 405 29 01 Ulrika Kullman
+46 8 405 23 15