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Nordic Network Sharpening Arguments Against Sex Trade

Sex trade is a major industry that continuous to flourish worldwide. But the Nordic Network against Sex Trade is not discouraged: Prostitution must stop!

NIKK spade symbol

‘We don’t think men should have the right to buy a woman’s body,’ says Hanne Størset, network spokesperson and board member of the Norwegian Feminist Group Ottar.
At the Nordic Forum in Malmö, they will gather activists interested in sharpening their arguments and discussing strategies to combat prostitution and human trafficking.

Why do we need Nordic cooperation against sex trade?
‘In order to make our voices heard, we need to get organised. After all, our opponents are very well organised. Internationally, prostitution is subject to frequent debate, and we need to get better at presenting our arguments. There are strong forces that don’t see prostitution as a problem.’
There are disagreements within the Nordic feminist movement as well. What would you like to say to feminists who think prostitution should be legal? 
‘They tend to focus on individual women and their right to “work” as prostitutes, but we don’t think prostitution should be considered a job and want to get away from this focus on the individual. We see prostitution as a social problem linked to the superior position of men, since most customers are men and mostly women are for sale. We think more politicians should ask themselves whether that’s really the type of society they want.’

You talk about a Nordic model. Can you describe it?
‘In large parts of the Nordic region, prostitution is viewed as an expression of men’s violence against women. It is this view that has made it possible to criminalise the buyer. Sweden was a forerunner with such legislation, and Norway and Iceland have followed. It’s typical for the Nordic model that the buyers and not the sellers of sex are criminalised. Prostitutes shouldn’t be viewed as criminals but instead as crime victims. They need help to get out of their situation.’

Hanne Storset. Photo: private
Hanne Storset. Photo: private

What has the sex trade legislation in Sweden, Norway and Iceland meant?
‘For me personally, it has to do with security. These societies are sending a clear message that women are not for sale. At a practical level, it leads to fewer people getting involved in the industry and it helps the police in their work against human trafficking. Legislation is important, but it isn’t a fix-all solution. We want society to help the women more. We for example think that they should qualify for financial support, like other crime victims.’

What are some future challenges?
‘There are still some differences between the Nordic countries. We’re fighting for legislative change in Denmark and Finland, and in Norway we’re trying to keep the current sex trade law intact. Sweden and Iceland are looking pretty good at the moment, though. Earlier this spring, the EU expressed support for the model of criminalising sex trade. It’ll be interesting to see where this will lead. Our network wants to push the development forward and actively promote the Nordic model.’


This is an article about one of the projects granted funding through the Nordic Gender Equality Fund.

Updated 29 February 2024