1st Edition

Criminalising the Purchase of Sex Lessons from Sweden

By Jay Levy Copyright 2015
    304 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    270 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In an attempt to abolish prostitution, Sweden criminalised the purchase of sex in 1999, while simultaneously decriminalising its sale. In so doing, it set itself apart from other European states, promoting itself as the pioneer of a radical approach to prostitution. What has come to be referred to as ‘the Swedish model’ has been enormously influential, and has since been adopted and proposed by other countries. This book establishes the outcomes of this law – and the law’s justifying narratives – for the dynamics of Swedish sex work, and upon the lives of sex workers.

    Drawing on recent fieldwork undertaken in Sweden over several years, including qualitative interviewing and participant observation, Jay Levy argues that far from being a law to be emulated, the Swedish model has had many detrimental impacts, and has failed to demonstrably decrease levels of prostitution. Criminalising the Purchase of Sex: Lessons from Sweden utilises a wealth of respondent testimony and secondary research to redress the current lack of primary academic research and to contribute to academic discussion on this politically-charged and internationally relevant topic.

    This original and timely work will be of interest to sex worker rights organisations, policy makers and politicians, as well as researchers, academics and students across a number of related disciplines, including law, sociology, criminology, human geography and gender studies.


    Glossary: Abbreviations, Acronyms, Translations, Introduction: Sweden – A Brief History Of ‘The People’s Home’, Methodology, Chapter 1: The Sexköpslagen – Legal And Discursive Precedent, Chapter 2: Perceptions, Understandings, And Constructions, Chapter 3: Levels And Spaces Of Sex Work In Sweden, Chapter 4: The Swedish Model On Service Provision – The Prostitution Units And Harm Reduction, Chapter 5: The Swedish Model On Service Provision – Sex Workers’ Experiences, Chapter 6: Compromised Citizenship – Outcomes Of Law, Policy, And Discourse, Conclusions: Social Exclusion In Sweden’s ‘People’s Home’, Bibliography


    Jay Levy completed his PhD at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. He works for an NGO in London and freelances as a consultant and researcher. His research interests include the outcomes of sex work and drug legislation and discourse; feminist, gender, and queer theory; harm reduction, HIV/AIDS, STI, and blood-borne infection policy and law.

    "Dr Levy spent several years living in Sweden, conducting research on the sex purchase ban for a PhD at Cambridge University. His book, Criminalising the Purchase of Sex: Lessons from Sweden, is a thorough examination of the Swedish prostitution law, its effects and its actual aims, alongside what is purported by supporters of the legislation. With Sweden's concerted efforts to export their model of prostitution law and countries, particularly in the European Union, pushed to consider the approach, this work is timely and essential reading."- Ella Parsons, English Collective of Prostitues: Saftety for Sex Workers