Demand-Side Prohibition

What is demand-side prohibition?

Policies to “end demand” for sex work, also called the “Swedish model” or the “Nordic model,” aim to criminalize clients of sex workers and pimps, but not sex workers themselves.  Such policies can include “John Schools,” “rehabilitation” programs that aim to teach clients not to pay for sex.  

Why does MASWAN oppose demand-side prohibition?

Demand-side prohibition may sound like it helps sex workers, but in fact it can create more unsafe working conditions.  As sex work gets pushed underground, sex workers are less likely to access health and social services or report cases of trafficking.  A study of the effects of demand-side prohibition in Sweden in 2004 found that the number of sex workers in Stockholm remained “stable” (p. 10) between 1999, right after the law was passed, and 2003.  The study also suggested that sex work may simply have been driven underground, and that sex workers were more vulnerable to exploitation by clients and police.  Efforts to “end demand” also divert resources away from services sex workers desperately need, like health and social services, toward expanded surveillance and policing.  Ultimately, they further stigma against sex work and fail to address the needs of the most marginalized sex workers.