Nordic Model Resources

What is the Nordic Model?

The Nordic Model offers an alternative to legalisation and total decriminalisation. It is an innovative approach to prostitution policy that is not based on standard legalisation or criminalisation principles. It is a differentiated model of asymmetric decriminalisation where the selling of ‘sexual services’ is decriminalised but the buying of ‘sexual services’ is criminalised. The fundamental innovation of the Nordic Model is that it targets demand. The Model recognises that it is the demand for ‘sexual services’ that promotes the expansion of the sex industry and sex trafficking. Furthermore, it acknowledges that buyers are largely men and that their demand is primarily for buying women and girls. The Nordic Model aims to make the buying of sex socially unacceptable.

The Nordic Model takes an abolitionist approach to prostitution and trafficking. This approach does not accept that booming markets for prostitution and sex trafficking are desirable or inevitable. Instead, the Nordic Model advocates social and cultural change. Within this model, prostitution and sex trafficking are understood as harmful to prostituted and trafficked persons, as well as barriers to social justice. Criminalising the purchase of sex is seen as an important part of efforts to end violence against women and to achieve gender equality.

Useful resources

The CATWA report Demand Change: Understanding the Nordic Model approach to prostitution (2017) is a comprehensive summary of the history behind the development of this model and its implementation in various countries.

Speaking of prostitution (2013) An excellent resource from the Swedish feminist organisation Kvinnofronten. It provides many arguments to counter the pro-prostitution lobby and is written in a  straight forward, non-academic style.

Buying sex should be banned in Australia. A 2013 article advocating for the Nordic model in Australia.

The Nordic Model Information Network (NMIN) is a global alliance of researchers with deep and systematic expertise in researching the dynamics of prostitution and the sex industry, trafficking, and violence against women.

Information by country

The following resources relate to countries that have recently adopted the Nordic Model, or are in the process of discussing it. They give some background to the debates around the issue. Visit the Nordic Model Legislation page for links to the actual legislation in those countries that have this form of prostitution legislation.

UK

In Mar 2014, an all party parliamentary group in the UK released a report “Shifting the Burden:An inquiry to assess the operation of current legal settlement on prostitution in England and Wales” which recommends the Nordic Model be adopted.

A former British cabinet minister calls for the adoption of the Nordic model in the UK.

Nordic Model Now is a UK-based grassroots group campaigning for the Nordic Model. A useful source of information about what is happening in the UK.

European Parliament

In Feb 2014, the European Parliament  passed a resolution recognising the impact that sexual exploitation and prostitution have on gender equality. It calls for the reduction of the demand for prostitution and sees the Nordic Model as the way forward. Click here to read the report.

European Parliament press release on the resolution.

Report in the Guardian newspaper on the EU vote.

2014  European Parliament report “Sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality”

Northern Ireland

In June 2015, the Northern Ireland parliament passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act 2015. Section 15 deals with paying for the sexual services of a person, and penalises the buyer with jail term of up to a year and/or fines.

Ireland

2016 The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 passes in the Senate and is now in the final stages of debate and amendments.

The Irish organisation Turn Off the Red Light  is a useful website to track the fight for Nordic style legislation in that country.

The Minister for Justice will soon introduce the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill which will target the buyers.  (Aug 2015)

Irish activists step up campaign for Nordic Model (Dec 2013)

France

On 6 April 2016, the French National Assembly voted to introduce the Nordic Model. The full transcript, in French, from the debate and voting can be found hereHere is an excellent article on the legislation, translated from French, and a very useful explanation of each of the 23 articles written by CAP International

Earlier attempts to introduce the Nordic Model are outlined below.

In December 2013 the French National Assembly voted in favour of the Nordic Model. It will be voted on in the Senate later in 2014. Click here to read article.

In March 2015, the French Senate failed to pass the Bill,instead passing their own Bill which would fine and/or imprison prostitutes while the men purchasing sex would suffer no penalties. The new Senate Bill now goes back to the National Assembly.

Canada

In December 2013, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that current prohibitions on prostitution were unconstitutional and instructed Parliament to come up with new legislation with a year. This has led to much debate. Read here how a former trafficked woman is advocating for the Nordic model.

In Mar 2014, the province of Manitoba called for Canada to adopt the Nordic model 

Canadian MP Joy Smith advocates for the Nordic model.

The Tipping Point 2014 Report by MP Joy Smith calling for Canada to adopt a Nordic Model approach.

Public Consultation on Prostitution – final results  In Feb 2014 the Canadian government launched a month long online consultation on prostitution. The results show a clear preference for criminalising the purchase of sex.

June 2014 Background paper by the Canadian Justice Department on the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act  which makes the buying of sexual services illegal.

June 2014 Bill C-36 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act    Link to the full text of the legislation

Oct 2014 The Canadian Bill passes through the House of Commons and now goes to the Senate. Read the statement by CATW International on this.

Nov 2014 The legislation passes through the Senate 

General Articles

2011 Article by Max Waltman (Stockholm University) ‘Prohibiting sex purchasing and ending trafficking:the Swedish prostitution law” 

In July 2010, the Swedish Chancellor of Justice Anna Skarhed submitted a report ‘Prohibition of the purchase of sexual services. An evaluation 1999-2008’ to the government