Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is the Nordic Model Applicable to the United States?

This posting is meant as a continuation of the discussion to be found in the post “The Nordic Model: Where Buying Sex is Illegal” by Hayarpi Papikyan

Is the Nordic Model Applicable to the United States?

Sweden has led the way in pioneering the criminalization of the purchasing of sex (1998), closely followed by Norway (2009) and Iceland (2009).

Angela Beausang, the head of Roks, the National Association of Women’s and young Women’s Shelters of Sweden, argues that it is impossible to have a society in which there is equality between the genders that also has prostitution.

She argues that the selling and purchasing of any one woman within a society diminishes the standing of every woman within that society. Her argument hinges upon her belief that due to social constructions, no woman ever truly prostitutes herself; she is instead “prostituted” by others: whether people, social circumstances or cultural realities.

The Nordic Model is particularly relevant to the American or Canadian observer precisely because of the recent popularity of the concept of legalizing prostitution in order to further regulate its practice. The hope is that legalization will ensure greater safely for both the prostitutes themselves and the men and women that they service. This concept has grown in popularity recently; to the point where attempts by legislators to bring an end to prostitution in their states has been met with chilly resistance.

And yet, the Nordic Model suggests that criminalizing the purchasing of sex (rather than the selling of sex) has yielded a net societal benefit. As Angela Beausang pointed out, we cannot ignore the fact that a majority of women who are prostituted would take other work if it were available to them. Further, almost all prostitutes today were sexually abused as children. The act of selling sex MUST be separated irrevocably from the act of purchasing it. Purchasing sex inherently diminishes the dignity of the prostitute, and violates his or her human rights, while the selling of sex is most often the last resort of desperate women. To legalize this practice in the US would be to approve of the subjugation of women as a viable economic market.

1 comment:

  1. A speaker about human trafficking in the US made a similar point. She said that while some people believe that legalizing prostitution would help reduce human trafficking because of the increased ability to regulate prostitution, she believes, after researching the "Nordic Model" and other approaches, that prostitution must remain illegal.