Sweden and France launch common strategy to criminalise the purchase of sex in Europe

“Prostitution should never be considered a job”, the Foreign Ministries say in a joint document. Both countries have successfully adopted the ‘Nordic Model’ to fight sex trafficking.

Evangelical Focus

PARIS · 18 MARCH 2019 · 11:00 CET

Sweden and France criminalise the demand of paid sex and protect prostituted women. / Unsplash, CC0,
Sweden and France criminalise the demand of paid sex and protect prostituted women. / Unsplash, CC0

Sweden, the country that has lead the fight against sex trafficking and prostitution, has been joined by France in a new effort to persuade European countries about the need to criminalise the demand of paid sex.  

France adopted the known as ‘Nordic Model’ to fight the sexual exploitation of women in 2016, and started to criminalise clients rather than prostituted women. Figures showed that 85% of prostitutes in the country were victims of human trafficking. The law also offered  women temporary residence permits if they agreed to find jobs outside the world of prostitution.

Now both countries have launched a common effort to persuade other countries (including those following opposite strategies such as Germany and the Netherlands) about the “need to reduce the demand for girls and women in prostitution”.

“The Government of France and the Government of Sweden are proud to announce our joint decision to develop a common strategy for combating human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Europe and globally”, the Foreign Ministries of both countries announced on March 8th, the International Woman’s Day.

The two governments underline “the clear nexus between trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution”, which is “well described in numerous studies”.



There is no space for doubt in the approach to prostitution. “Trafficking for sexual exploitation will continue as long as there is a demand for girls and women in prostitution. Therefore, focusing on reducing demand will be an important measure for combating trafficking for sexual exploitation, for combating violence against women and children and for enhanced gender equality”, they say.

Therefore, “France and Sweden have taken a clear position against normalizing prostitution as work. Our view is that prostitution should always be perceived as an exploitation of someone’s vulnerability – thus prostitution should never be considered a job”.


Joint statement of the Foreign Ministries of Sweden and France.



Other countries in Europe have legalised prostitution, including Germany and the Netherlands. A position that France and Sweden oppose.

“To consider prostitution as legal ‘sex work’, decriminalizing the sex industry in general and making procuring legal is not a solution to keeping women and children in vulnerable situations safe from violence and exploitation, but has the opposite effect and expose them to higher level of violence, while at the same time encouraging prostitution markets — and thus the number of women and children suffering abuse — to grow”, the document says.



Both Sweden and France “are convinced that criminalizing the purchase of sex would be a very important step” towards achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We will therefore put this agenda in the forefront of our common advocacy for combating trafficking for sexual exploitation in Europe and globally”.



Sweden was the first country to pass a law to reduce the demand of prostitution in a shift through which clients started to be targeted – in 1999.

In the last twenty years, other countries have adopted the ‘Nordic Model’: Norway in 2008, Iceland in 2009, and Northern Ireland in 2015.

In 2016, the European Parliament approved the Resolution 2013/2103(INI) calling for these kind of laws to be adopted throughout the continent.



Among evangelical Christians in Europe, the ‘Nordic Model’ is seen as the best way to fight sexual slavery. Hundreds of churches and organisations advocate against prostitution and ask the government to protect women and children.

In 2017, over 200 people representing dozens of European Christians organisations involved in the fight against human trafficking met in Berlin (Germany). Read a report about the European Freedom Network gathering in Germany.


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