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The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. This article was published more than 4 years ago. Some information in it may no longer be current. Here in Canada, most progressive people hold an enlightened view of prostitution. Since fighting it is futile, we ought to legalize and regulate it. Legalizing prostitution would destigmatize sex-trade workers and increase their safety. Hey, maybe they'll even start signing up for dental plans!
Sweden went another way. In , it passed a law to criminalize the buyers of sex, but not the sellers. Sex-trade workers were encouraged to report abusive clients to police, and given assistance to help them find other lines of work. Or, in the case of migrant women who'd been trafficked, to return home.
The law is not unlike Canada's new law, which has been widely derided as unworkable, unconstitutional, dangerous to women and hopelessly reactionary. But then nobody ever accused the Harper government of being progressive. So how are things going in Sweden? Pretty well, it turns out. Last week, a thick report published by a government agency in Stockholm found that street prostitution has been cut by more than half since Other studies also indicate that the sex trade has shrunk substantially.
In Stockholm's red-light district, "there's hardly anyone there," says political science professor Max Waltman, an expert in prostitution policy at the University of Stockholm who spoke to me by telephone.
Nor is it true that the street trade has simply moved indoors. Waltman estimates that the total number of sex workers in the country has dropped from 3, in the mids to about in recent years. At first, public opinion over the new law was sharply divided. Its biggest support came from the greens, the feminists and others in the left-left wing. But today, it has overwhelming public support. Many Swedes view prostitution not as a choice or a moral offence, but a form of male violence against women.