ARPA Canada has worked on the prostitution issue over the past few years. One of the legislative solutions we’ve lobbied hard for is for Canada to adopt the Swedish model concerning the sex trade. We were pleased when Parliament introduced and eventually passed a “made in Canada” version of the Swedish model. Four months later, Margaret Wente, of the Globe and Mail, has penned an op-ed pointing out the success of the Swedish model and the failures of the decriminalization route and the rather intriguing flip in ideological lines: progressives in Europe support the Swedish model, but “progressives” in Canada are very opposed. Margaret Wente writes,
Iceland and Norway – two other progressive, feminist, northern countries – have adopted the Swedish model. But in Canada, the ideologies are flipped. Here, conservatives applaud the Swedish model, while progressives, academics, feminists and the media overwhelmingly ridicule it.
Prof. Waltman, who has been following Canada’s debate closely, thinks these people are seriously wrong. Decriminalization is a failed experiment, he argues. “When the German parliament decided at the end of the nineties to decriminalize, the idea was to make prostitution safer. Women would sign onto social security, and they would be destigmatized, and they would work in brothels and be safe.”
But no one signed up for social security, the sex trade was not destigmatized and brothels, he says, are not particularly safe. Worst of all, prostitution has exploded. “Most women are obviously not doing it by choice,” he says. “Most of them have been profoundly traumatized and want to get out. If you legalize it, it’s legalizing slavery, because they have no real choice.” Read the rest of Wente’s piece here.
Last week, a thick report published by a government agency in Stockholm found that street prostitution has been cut by more than half since 1995. Other studies also indicate that the sex trade has shrunk substantially. We encourage our readers interested in this issue to scan the report themselves. ARPA’s first Respectfully Submitted report was on this issue. Though published in September 2011, it still speaks to this issue. It can be found here.