Swedish opposition calls for ban on sexist adverts

The Social Democrat opposition wants to ban sexist commercials if the party wrests power from the government in the autumn - "You don't need to show bottoms to sell cars."

Swedish opposition calls for ban on sexist adverts
Veronica Palm. File photo: TT

Last year, a Swedish women's health NGO found that nine of ten women under the age of 30 had at one point or another wanted to change their body due to beauty ideals in commercials and on billboards. The survey also included teen girls. 

"This is a public health problem that we politicians have to take responsibility for," Social Democrat MP Veronica Palm told the Aftonbladet newspaper. "You don't need to show bottoms to sell cars."

The proposal that sexist advertising be banned is not new. The Social Democrats were mulling it over when still in power, but a report into the matter was shelved and left to collect dust when the Moderate-led government coalition took power off them in 2006.

"A government led by the Social Democrats will pick up the report on sexist and gender stereotypical advertising after the Alliance threw it in the trash can," Palm said. "That's an election promise." 

The Alliance's then equality minister, Nyamko Sabuni, said she was concerned that such a law would be ineffective and risked curtailing free speech and free press. Palm said, however, that she believed it was possible to legislate in a way that respected those rights and at the same time curbed that type of advertising.

While Sweden, unlike its Nordic neighbours, currently has no laws that prohibit sexist content in advertising, Swedes can report commercials that they find offensive to the advertising watchdog Reklamombudsmannen.

Palm has herself reported a toy-store catalogue that played on gender stereotypes.

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