• Sweden's news in English

No jail time for Sweden's sex buyers: report

The Local · 27 May 2013, 11:38

Published: 27 May 2013 11:38 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In late 2011, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask raised the red flag about the lenient sentencing doled out in Swedish courts to Swedes convicted of buying sex.

In July 2012, the law was rewritten, allowing courts to send offenders to jail for a maximum of one year, rather than the six months behind bars that had previously been the strictest sentencing available to the Swedish justice system.

Yet the rewrite has had little effect, noted Johan Linander, Centre Party MP and vice-chairman of Riksdag Committee on Justice (Justitieutskottet).

"The courts make limited use of the range of sentencing available to them," Linander told The Local.

A review of sentencing in the past few years by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper revealed on Monday that no one has been sentenced to prison for buying sex from an adult - neither before nor after the reform.

"We see that the courts use the lower quarter of punishments with little variation, which is true for most crimes, not just sex purchases," said Linander, who has long argued that the punishments needed to be stricter.

Social Democrat MEP Anna Hedh, who put together the EU directive on fighting human trafficking, said she was hesitant toward filling Swedish prisons up with one-time offenders.

"But if you are a repeat offender, you should of course end up in jail," Hedh told The Local.

"The law is important because it sent out a strong message that buying sex is not OK. Even the Moderates, who voted against the law originally, now support it."

That message has not reached all Swedes, however, In April, a Swedish sex crimes prosecutor was found guilty of buying sex in a case that shocked the justice system. He was ordered by the court to pay 2,000 kronor ($300) in fines and lost his job.

"We cannot dictate how the courts work, but we can split the offense into categories," MP Linander said, explaining that he would like Sweden to introduce a classification of "particularly grievous sex purchase" into the law, which would give the courts yet another option for sentencing.

"In cases of trafficking, for example, where the sex buyer cannot have failed to understand that they are involved in forced prostitution," he said.

Anna Hedh agreed with him.

"It is important to differentiate between people who buy sex from a prostitute and people who buy sex from victims of human trafficking. We can't only fine people who trade in human beings, it's organized crime," she said.

Hedh added that tackling demand was the only way forward, and said many of her European colleagues had come to this realization also. Iceland and Norway have already followed Sweden's 1998 lead criminalizing sex purchases, with some lawmakers in France and the Labour opposition in the UK also taking an interest.

The link between prostitution and organized crime had helped convert even liberal European countries into viewing the sex trade with suspicion, Centre Party MP Linander said.

"We have seen interest in our (sex purchase) law even from countries that have previously been very liberal in the question of prostitution," Linander said, adding that politicians in Amsterdam, long regarded as a prostitution-tolerant haven, had signalled concern about the presence of criminal elements in the city's red light district.

Story continues below…

"We've realized this is no longer about small-scale entrepreneurs, but that big crime organizations are involved here in trafficking women, drugs, killings and other criminal activities", then mayor Job Cohen told The New York Times back in 2008.

"There are those who say that as long as prostitution is legalized and regulated, there will be peace and quiet," Linander said.

"But we have seen that is not true."

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Facebook slammed for cutting Swedish breast cancer video
File photo of the landing page of the Swedish version of Facebook. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant removed a breast cancer awareness video because it deemed the images "offensive," according to the Swedish Cancer Society.

Pastor rapped for depicting rival as Nazi in church play
A different pastor. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The pastor allegedly found it funny.

In Pictures: Look inside this perfect Swedish island home
This modern Gotland home was designed and built by two Swedes. Photo: United Frog Studios/AB

Anna-Lena and Johan designed and built their home with tall beautiful windows, a smart heating system, and a separate section for their greyhounds.

Cannabis worth millions seized at Swedish port
A file photo of a Swedish police cannabis find not related to the story. Photo: Polisen

The 300kg haul was found by in a truck which drove off a ferry in Karlskrona.

Roll over Volvo: there’s a new Swedish car in town
Photo: Björn Olsson

Car developers in Gothenburg have given Volvo a new sibling.

Thaw trip: Swedish PM Löfven heads to Saudi Arabia
Margot Wallström was at the centre of the 2015 diplomatic crisis. She will not join the Prime Minister on his trip to Saudi Arabia. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

There are fences that need mending.

Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
This shot of snow in western Sweden may not be as far away as you think. Photo: Johan Eklund/TT

...and it's still only October.

Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
The new rules are unfair, say Swedish IB pupils. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB scanpix/TT

A new system for converting the grades of International Baccalaureate students in Sweden will make it almost impossible for them to get into top Swedish universities, it has been claimed.

Education doesn’t always pay in Sweden: study
Nurses are paid less than a lot of non-college graduates. Photo: Bertil Ericsson/TT

Half of Swedish graduates would earn more in their lifetime if they instead started work straight after high school, a new study shows.

What's On in Sweden
Five ways to discover something new in Sweden this weekend
Frank Zappa's symphonic works will be performed in Malmö this weekend. Photo: Anonymous/AP

From a performance of Frank Zappa's unheralded orchestral work to an intriguing combination of circus and opera, Sweden has some unique events this weekend.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Blog updates

8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »


6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
People-watching: October 5th
Must-watch: Incredible time-lapse video of Northern Lights in Sweden
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
jobs available