Violence, Sex or Work? Claims-making against the Swedish ban on the purchase of sexual services on the Internet

Gabriella Scaramuzzino, Roberto Scaramuzzino

Abstract

Internationally there is an on-going political struggle regarding whether to define prostitution as violence, sex or work. In Sweden, however, the national law that bans purchase of sexual services, by defining prostitution as violence against women, has strong support. The aim of this article is to identify and describe claims-making and mobilisation on the Internet against Swedish prostitution policy, and to explain arguments and positions by relating them to different ‘prostitution regimes’. Through qualitative text analysis of websites, three different critical positions against the Swedish law and its implementation by Social Services are identified, which correspond to three of the regimes considered: legalisation, toleration and abolition. Such positions are upheld by three collective actors mobilising sex clients, sex workers, prostitutes and their allies. Results suggest that other countries’ policies and their implementation are important inspirations for critics of the Swedish policy on prostitution, not least through mobilisation at European level.


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