Criminalizing the Buying of Sex? Experiences from the Nordic Countries

Hosted by the LSE European Institute

Online public event


Anna Błuś

Anna Błuś

Suzanne Hoff

Suzanne Hoff

Elene Lam

Elene Lam

Dr Niina Vuolajärvi

Dr Niina Vuolajärvi


Dr Oula Kadhum

Dr Oula Kadhum

The “Swedish” or “Nordic” model has in recent years risen to the centre of anti-trafficking and prostitution policy debates. It claims to revolutionise the policy field by criminalising the buying instead of the selling of sex. Sweden implemented this policy in 1999, relying on radical feminist arguments of commercial sex as a form of violence against women and a hindrance to gender equality. Since then, this policy approach has been adopted in several countries across Europe and America. But how does this policy affect the people it claims to protect, sex workers and people in the sex trade? What does it mean that commercial sex is increasingly governed through feminist arguments of gender equality? Who is most affected by this approach, and with what consequences? This event provides a unique opportunity to find answers to these questions and to understand how the “Nordic model” functions in various geographic locations.

In this event, Niina Vuolajärvi will outline the main outcomes and recommendations of a policy brief on sex buyer criminalization and its intersections with immigration controls in the Nordic region. The brief is based on Vuolajärvi’s large-scale ethnographic research that includes 210 interviews conducted between 2012-2019 in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. The panel will discuss how the “Nordic model” style regulation looks like in other countries and from a perspective of anti-trafficking efforts.

Meet our speakers and chair

Anna Błuś (@AnnaMBlus) is a Researcher on Western Europe and Women’s Rights at Amnesty International’s Europe Regional Office based at the International Secretariat in London. She was the lead researcher on women’s access to justice for rape in Europe as part of Amnesty’s Let’s Talk About Yes project and is the author of Amnesty’s recently released report on sex workers’ human rights in Ireland. 

Julian Curico (@RedUmbrellaSwe) is a Swedish current full service sex worker and is currently the chair of Red Umbrella Sweden*. He has worked as a sex worker in conditions such as the Swedish model (Nordic model, client criminalisation etc) and different types of regulated legalisation.

Since 2004, Suzanne Hoff (@LaStradaInterna) is International Coordinator of La Strada International, the European NGO Platform against trafficking in human beings. As International Coordinator, Suzanne Hoff manages a broad range of tasks including strategy planning, lobby & advocacy and representation of the Platform, next to coordination of European projects and research on the issue of human trafficking. She coordinated projects, campaigns and research.

Elene Lam (@ButterflyCSW) is an activist, community organizer, educator, and human rights defender. She has devoted herself to defending the rights of and empowering marginalized communities: particularly sex workers, migrants, and precarious workers for over 20 years. She is the founder of Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) in Canada. She holds a Master of Laws and Master of Social Work.

Charlotte Lee and Niki Adams (@ProstitutesColl) are spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes.

Niina Vuolajärvi (@NiinaVu) is an Assistant Professor in International Migration at the LSE European Institute. Her interdisciplinary research is situated in the fields of migration, feminist and socio-legal studies. Niina received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Rutgers University in 2021.

Dr Oula Kadhum (@OulaKadhum) is an LSE Fellow in International Migration at the European Institute. Her research explores political and religious transnationalism of diasporic migrant communities between the Middle East and Europe, with a special focus on Iraq.

More about this event

The LSE European Institute (@LSEEI) is a centre for research and graduate teaching on the processes of integration and fragmentation within Europe.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEEurope

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