Swedish PM ponders ad sex law

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson said on Saturday that he was considering proposing legislation that would limit the use of media images of scantily-dressed women.

“We have seen a sexualization of the public sphere. Everywhere we go in today’s society there are commercial messages based on marketing that exploits women and women’s bodies,” he told a national gathering of women members of his Social Democratic Party in Eskiltuna, west of Stockholm.

Images of barely-dressed women in tabloids and on television, as well as women portrayed in sexually provocative ads posted on giant billboards, have tended to stir up considerable ire in Sweden, a world leader in gender equality.

Persson said the government still hoped the country’s media would on their own manage to show better judgement of which images to publish, but hinted that legislation could be used to force them to clean up their act.

“We hope that the media will manage to clean themselves up on their own, but this seems to be moving very slowly… The development (in Sweden) is not good, and when we look around Europe, the situation is even worse. It is not a good thing if the Swedish tabloids go in the same direction as the British ones,” Persson said, quoted by Swedish news agency TT.

The prime minister also said that a new authority would be created in Sweden to help ensure gender equality.

“We need an authority today that can take on all equality questions… It would for instance keep an eye on developments in the workplace to ensure that we stop discriminating against women,” he said.

Sweden already has a minister for equal opportunities, Jens Orback, and an equal opportunities ombudsman, who handles individual complaints of discrimination in workplaces and universities. Persson said that the new authority would take a more strategic view of equality questions.

“It will, for example, monitor developments in workplaces so that we stop discriminating against women,” he said.

Statistics Sweden revealed last October that Swedish women in on average still make 18 percent less pay than their male colleagues. Yet Sweden continues to perform well in international comparisons of gender equality. A survey from the World Economic Forum published earlier this week claimed that the “gender gap” is smaller in Sweden than in any other country. (AFP/The Local)