Author: Mari Wiklander

Jackson Katz

Wake Up! Prostitution is Violence Against Women

Blog post co-authored by Mari Wiklander & Julia Wiklander Today, thousands of feminists, activists, politicians, researchers, authors and others are convening in Malmo, Sweden for Nordiskt Forum 2014, to discuss new action on women’s rights. When it comes to gender equality, many look up to the nordic countries – where a Nordic Model has been enforced, including through legislation against the purchase of sexual services. In terms of prostitution, several of the nordic countries (except for Denmark) have laws that aim to protect victims of the sex trade, while penalizing those who buy women and children. Yet, the world judges and criticizes women who have been subjected to prostitution. Many women experience stigmatization and see prostitution itself as shameful. Women fear that talking about their experiences and the stigma that prostitution implies, will lead to rejection. Although the purchaser of sexual services in Sweden is breaking the law, he (as in the vast majority of cases the purchaser is a man) is not stigmatized. In general, men’s purchase of sexual services is “merely” an expression sexual frustration. Put the …

Göteborg by night. Photo Credit: Linus Ekenstam, via Creative Commons on Flickr

The Nordic Model: Swedish legislation against buying sex

Sweden has been seen as a role model in dealing with prostitution as a human rights matter, where it is illegal to buy sex, but not criminalized to sell sex – protecting prostitutes and criminalizing perpetrators. There is one question I keep asking myself: “if it is illegal to buy sex, why are so few convicted for it?” The difficulty to convict the buyer of sexual services in Sweden can be explained by the fact that it is of course not illegal to have sex, neither is it illegal to circle around a specific area by car and it is also not illegal for a girl to jump into a man’s car. However, what is illegal is the act of buying sex, which in many cases is impossible to prove. It may require witnesses or someone filming the whole process. Many professionals who work to combat prostitution in Sweden are convinced that the Swedish law against the purchase of sex is weak and emphasizes that the law must be complemented by greater support for women …

Photo Courtesy: European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari

Stalking: A Mental Prison

Imagine that the person you fell in love with, but broke up with a while ago suddenly has total control over you? You receive text message after text message saying “I know who you are talking to,” or ” I know where you are.” You receive presents in places you thought nobody had access to other than yourself. You see the same car circling around your home day and night. Wouldn’t this scare you, confine you and limit your way of living? Violence against women is a global epidemic that affects 1 in 3 women worldwide, and is often caused by an intimate partner. Several people in our surroundings may be in the trap of a stalker – a perpetrator, who causes psychological harm through threats. It can be you, your colleague, friend, sister, partner or daughter who experiences this mental prison. This fall in Sweden, I had the opportunity to listen to Henrik Belfrage, Professor in Criminology and researcher in forensic psychiatry, speak about stalking. Stalking is a social issue that is expanding in our country …

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India’s Outcasts: Dalits

Did you know that India has more slaves than all other countries have together? Did you know that more than 200 million people in India are traditionally regarded as untouchable and live in the shadow of the wealthy and high-technological society as India is today?  Did you know that every day, 1.3 million people in India are forced to clean human excrement with their bare hands? Dalit means beaten into pieces or smashed, and refers to those who fall outside any of the four castes of the Hindu caste system, and the Dalits are history’s longest standing oppressed people. This group of people designated as Dalits are denied the right to education and healthcare. In many areas in India, Dalits are denied to enter the police station, denied access to the national security system that is supposed to stand up, represent and help people in need. The socially and economically vulnerable situation Dalits are living in, put them in high risk of discrimination, dehumanization, degradation and violence every day. Also, Dalits are also at great risk …

http://activatecfpl.theefc.ca/journal/2010/1/26/waiting-for-legislation-to-combat-human-trafficking.html

Part 2: The link between trafficking and prostitution in Sweden

The national organization for women’s and girls’ aid in Sweden (ROKS) criticizes today’s politicians for not seeing the connection between trafficking and prostitution. Some Swedish politicians claim the following: that women in trafficking are victims, whilst women who are commercial sex workers do so voluntarily. I believe that it is impossible to ignore the reality, that there is a connection between trafficking and prostitution. After the Schengen Agreement was put in place, allowing free movement of persons within a specific European territory, a change on the street has been noticeable according to a woman who works to empower women at Malmskillnadsgatan (the area of street prostitution in Stockholm). Most of the women and girls in commercial sex work today are foreigners. The amount of Swedish girls in commercial sex work have gradually decreased. The majority of women at Rosenlund (the area of street prostitution in Gothenburg) and at Malmskillnadsgatan are from Nigeria and Romania, not Swedish and the majority cannot speak the Swedish language. How is it possible not to see the connection between prostitution and trafficking? Women are …

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Prostitution in Sweden – Part 1 Modern Slavery

Prostitution has been defined as the world’s oldest profession for women. Prostitution is something that occurs in every country, and it is not just a problem for big cities. It takes place everywhere. Not only on Friday and Saturday nights either. Prostitution is an operation, which is conducted also during weekdays and some buy sex during their lunch break. Some claim that prostitution is necessary and a reduction of prostitution may have direct negative consequences for society and is described as a safety valve. Furthermore, some people state that without prostitution we would experience an increased number of rapes and other sexual assaults. A question might be whether this statement only is a lame excuse to let prostitution remain in societies? Countries take different actions to oppose prostitution. The majority of the states in the United States of America have criminalized both parts; selling and purchasing sexual services. In Sweden and Norway it is illegal to buy sex but legal to sell, while some countries such as Germany and Netherlands have legalized prostitution completely.  Legal …