In a centuries-deep sea of clichés despairing that 'prostitution will always be with us,’ one country's success stands out as a solitary beacon lighting the way. Since the introduction of a revolutionary prostitution law in 1999, Sweden dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution. Between 1999 and 2008, the number of women in street prostitution was halved.1 In many major Swedish cities, street prostitution has all but disappeared. Gone too, for the most part, are the renowned Swedish brothels and massage parlors that proliferated during the last three decades of the twentieth century when prostitution in Sweden was legal.
In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex is nil. In 2013, the Swedish authorities reported only 41 suspected victims of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, a figure that's negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex-trafficked into neighboring Finland.2 No other country, nor any other social experiment, has come anywhere near Sweden's promising results.
By what complex formula has Sweden managed this feat? Amazingly, Sweden's strategy isn't complex at all. Its tenets, in fact, seem so simple and so firmly anchored in common sense as to immediately spark the question, "Why hasn't anyone tried this before?"