Equality Now supports and advocates for laws based on the ‘Nordic model’ to combat trafficking and exploitation and promote gender equality. This is a set of laws that criminalises the demand for commercial sex while decriminalising individuals in prostitution based on an approach first adopted in Sweden in 1999, followed by Norway and Iceland. In 1999, as part of a Violence Against Women bill, Sweden passed a law that criminalised only the purchaser of sex. Since the introduction of the law, street prostitution has halved and Sweden has become an undesirable destination for sex traffickers. In 2008, Norway followed Sweden’s example and passed a law criminalising the purchase of sex (within Norway and abroad) while keeping the sale of sex decriminalised to help combat human trafficking. Due to concerns regarding sex trafficking and exploitation after legalising prostitution in 2007, Iceland passed a law in 2009 criminalising the purchase of sex to better promote gender equality and fight exploitation.
The ‘Nordic model’ has two main goals: to curb the demand for commercial sex that fuels sex trafficking, and to promote equality between men and women.