ATC171006: Report of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings, on the Study Tour Undertaken to Sweden, Stockholm, from 2 to 6 October 2017

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings




The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings (Committee) having considered the Embrace Dignity Petition, received undertaken a study tour to Stockholm, Sweden, from 2 to 6 October 2017, reports as follows:


In or around, 2 March 2016, the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings (Committee) held a hearing on the Embrace Dignity Petition (petition). The petition was submitted to the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) by the Embrace Dignity, a non-profit organisation, which advocates for legal reform to end prostitution and sex trafficking. In the petition Embrace Dignity requests the intervention of the NCOP in, amongst others, investigating the available legislative responses to ending the prostitution and trafficking of women and girls in the South Africa.


Following the hearing on the petition, the Committee adopted a preliminary report on the petition, on 7 September 2016 (report) and later tabled it in the House. In the report the Committee recommended the Committee embark on study tours to Sweden and the Netherlands. The purpose of the study tours is to enable the Committee to better understand and comprehend the legal approaches or models adopted, in each of the selected countries, as a response to the issues of prostitution and trafficking – Sweden, on one hand, has adopted what is often termed the partial –decriminalisation or Nordic model to prostitution and the Netherlands, on the other hand, has adopted a regulated approach to prostitution. A further recommendation, namely recommendation 10.2, in the report is that the Committee adopt a final report on the petition after it has undertaken the study tours to Sweden and the Netherlands.


It is against this background that the Committee embarked on the first of the two proposed study tours and undertook a five-day study tour to Sweden, from 2 October 2017 to 7 October 2017.




The Committee delegation that undertook the study tour comprised the following Members:


3.1       Hon M T Mhlanga, ANC, Mpumalanga (Acting Chairperson of the Committee);

3.2        Hon T Wana, ANC, Eastern Cape;

3.3      Hon J M Mthethwa, ANC, Kwa-Zulu Natal;

3.4      Hon G Manopole, ANC, Northern Cape

3.5       Hon D L Ximbi, ANC, Western Cape;

3.6       Hon M D Monakedi, ANC, Limpopo;

3.7       Hon B   Chetty, ANC, Kwa-Zulu Natal;

3.8      Hon G Michalakis, DA, Free State;

3.9       Hon B Engelbrecht, DA, Gauteng; and

3.10      Hon T J Mokwele, EFF, North-West


The Committee delegation was supported by the following officials:


3.11      Mr N Mkhize, Committee Secretary;

3.12     Mr G Dixon, Committee Secretary; and

3.13      Dr M Gondwe, Committee Content Advisor.





The study tour largely took the form of daily presentations, meetings and engagements with selected stakeholders that are either directly or indirectly involved with the issues of prostitution and trafficking in Swedish society. These stakeholders ranged from the State Secretary to the Minister of Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality; the Chancellor of Justice; the Swedish Prosecution Authority; the National Coordinator for Trafficking and Prostitution; the Swedish Police Authority; the Swedish Parliament and civil society organisations. And during these engagements and interactions, Members were able to ask questions around the presentations made and further share their opinions and views on related matters. What follows below is a summary of the numerous presentations made to the Committee during the study tour and the observations that the Committee made consequent to the study tour.


3.1       Day One of the Study Tour, Monday 2 October 2017


Day one of the study tour began with an introductory presentation by the State Secretary to the Minister of Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Pernilla Baralt, (State Secretary Baralt). In her presentation State Secretary Baralt took the Committee through the agenda of Sweden’s feminist governments. The presentation by State Secretary Baralt was followed by a presentation by Ambassador Per -Anders Sunesson (Ambassador Sunesson), the Swedish Ambassador At Large for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, focusing Sweden’s efforts in combating prostitution and human trafficking. The last presentation by, Ambassador Ann Bernes, Ambassador for Gender Equality and Coordinator for Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy, centered on Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy and what this policy entails in practical and real terms.


3.1.1 Presentation by State Secretary to the Minister of Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality


State Secretary Baralt explained that Sweden’s current government had declared itself a feminist government and this effectively means that gender equality is central to its priorities, particularly in relation to decision making and resource allocation. She further explained that this also means government policies are gendered to achieve the following 4 goals: equal division of power and influence; economic equality; equal distribution of unpaid house and care work; and an end to gender based violence. And a practical level, this mean that each Minister is required to have competence in equal opportunities and indicate how their respective portfolios will positively impact the equal opportunities goals. The Minister of Finance, on the other hand, has the task of putting a cost to implementing equal opportunities in each government portfolio. She added that it is further obligatory for heads of government departments to have competence in gender budgeting and equal opportunities. Also according to State Secretary Baralt, in terms of resource allocation, each State Secretary (i.e. the equivalent of a Deputy Minister in the South African Government system) is required to show how they will use their respective portfolio and mandate to contribute towards the equal opportunities goals. And Members of Parliament also share in the obligation to work towards achieving the equal opportunities goals.

The State Secretary further informed the delegation the Swedish economy is a strong one because men and women have access to equal opportunities and the economy is tailored to benefit from both men and women. She mentioned that changes to the Swedish policy, in this regard, came about after the Second World War, when Sweden was required to rebuilt its country and economy and the then Prime Minister required everyone to play a role in rebuilding the country and as women were now in the labour market, the state has to take care of children and the elderly. She remarked that over the years, the policy has ensured that women and men have the same power by applying systematic gender equality and gender mainstreaming in both the public and private sector. She further remarked that the success of the policy, over the years, has been guided by partnerships with civil society, the implementation of various international gender equality commitments and more recently, support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of 2015 (Agenda 2030) by the Swedish government.


As regards, the Swedish approach to prostitution, State Secretary Baralt informed the delegation that prior to the enactment of the Sex Purchase Act of 1999 (Sex Purchase Act or Act) a rigorous and robust debate took place on whether to criminalise prostitution or not. She admitted that although the Swedish approach to prostitution is not perfect it assists people to realise that they risk too much in buying sex. The approach also assists with achieving Agenda 2030, particularly the goal that speaks to each boy and girl having the same capacity and access to resources and promotes international conventions like Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women of 1979 (CEDAW) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.


The State Secretary concluded her presentation by stating that although the majority of parental leave is taken by women, Swedish fathers are allocated a total of 3 months of paternity leave as government recognises the right of the child to both parents. She also stated that Sweden is moving towards allocating equal leave to both men and women as younger fathers are asking for the right to be allocated more leave to enable them to be more present parents. Further in concluding her presentation, the State Secretary stated that schools have an important and central role to play in educating both girls and boys, at a tender age, about issues relating to gender equality and equal opportunities. She noted that most girls in Sweden think that they can become anything and the Prime Minister has consistently stated that every boy and girl in Sweden can fulfil their full potential and government constantly and consistently reiterates this. 




Ambassador Per – Anders Sunesson, the Swedish Ambassador At Large for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, commenced his presentation by informing the delegation that Sweden is a country of destination for trafficking, particularly for trafficking in persons to be engaged as berry pickers and street beggars (for e.g. gypsies from Romania and Bulgaria are trafficked by criminal syndicates to beg on the streets of Sweden). He added that a small amount of women, are also trafficked into Sweden for sexual purposes. Ambassador Sunesson also informed the delegation that like South Africa, Sweden had ratified anti – trafficking instruments such as the Palermo Protocol which regulates trafficking. At a regional level, Ambassador Sunesson indicated that Sweden had ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Trafficking of 2008 (Convention) and in terms of this Convention each Member State is expected to appoint a Rapporteur for Human Trafficking and National Coordinator for human trafficking. The Convention has set up a monitoring system to supervise the implementation of its obligations consisting of two pillars – the panel of experts and the committee of parties.

Further according to Ambassador Sunesson, with a population of 10 million people, 290 municipalities and 21 provinces or regions, Sweden felt the need for a coordinated and multi-agency approach in addressing the issue of trafficking. Take for instance the National Coordinator on Trafficking creates manuals on how to identify victims and run awareness campaigns and the regional coordinators in each region work directly with migration authorities and labour inspectors in combatting trafficking.

With respect to the Swedish model or approach to prostitution, Ambassador Sunesson explained that Sweden criminalises the buying of sex and decriminalises the selling of sex and the law, in this sense, focuses on the person buying sex not on the person selling sex. He mentioned that the law came about following a debate on violence against women after research had shown that there is a strong connection or nexus between prostitution and violence and prostitution and sexual abuse. He further mentioned that the law is not intended to victimise women in prostitution but is intended rather to offer them assistance and is intended to make a clear statement, on behalf of government, that buying sex is a form of violence against women and shows that a sex buyer has no respect for women. Hence a person convicted of buying sex, in Sweden, can lose his or her job loss or receive a criminal record and even lose his or her standing and good reputation in society as they are perceived as having little or no respect for women.

According to Ambassador Sunesson, the Sex Purchase Act, which promotes gender equality and human rights, has met the expectations of those in favour of it, as it has reduced street prostitution to less than half and has further changed the mind sets of Swedes. And following the enactment of the law, very few countries are now finding it socially unacceptable for people to buy sex – Greek and Spain, for instance, are considering enacting a similar law and Italy, too, appears to be leaning towards the Swedish approach to prostitution. Further according to Ambassador Sunesson, most police officers are in favour of the law as it has made the environment safe for prostitutes and since the enactment of the law no single violent crime has been committed against a prostitute in Sweden. The Swedish approach also views prostitution as harming both the individual and society at large.

In his presentation, Ambassador Sunesson also informed the delegation that fairly recent research by the Nordic Council, looking at prostitution in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland, found that prostitution in both Denmark Norway had increased whereas in Sweden it had been reduced by half. This has rendered Sweden a bad market for human trafficking, for sexual purposes, as most Swedes find it socially unacceptable for someone to buy sex. Ambassador Sunesson, further shared with the delegation that since Germany took the decision to legalise prostitution, it is reported to have 400 000 prostitutes and 98% of the prostitutes working in German brothels are not from Germany. He added that this is a clear indication that the brothel owner looks outside the country to meet the demand for prostitution in the country. He further added that research has also shown that those in prostitution do not want to be in prostitution and most women in brothels are from low income countries and from vulnerable groupings. The Ambassador further related that there is no evidence of increased physical violence against women in prostitution, in Sweden, and the power of brothel owners and pimps has been decreased if not diminished by the law – prostituted women and girls have more leverage because they can report a sex buyer to the police. He also related that Sweden offers programmes for those wishing to exit prostitution and in most instances because many of the prostitutes are in the country illegally they are assisted to go back to their countries of origin.

In concluding his presentation, the Ambassador indicated that persons prosecuted for buying sex advance a number of reasons for buying sex including amongst others: getting a high on getting to control someone; wanting to try something seen in a porn movie; wanting to do something that the wife does not want to do; and loneliness. Ambassador Sunesson further conceded that although the law does not get rid of prostitution, it has managed to reduce the demand for prostitution and change the mind sets of Swedes on the issue of buying sex. He noted that it is mostly women that are advocating for human rights for sex workers and this is not surprising as sex work, worldwide, is estimated to have a turnaround per second of 3000 USD. Ambassador Sunesson also informed the delegation that is not a human right to have sex particularly at someone else’s expense. Further in concluding his presentation, the Ambassador, advised the delegation that the key question in deciding whether to criminalise or decriminalise prostitution has to be “what kind of society do you want to develop as a country.”


3.1.3 Presentation by the Ambassador for Gender Equality and Coordinator for Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy


In her introductory remarks to the delegation, Ambassador Ann Bernes (Ambassador Bernes), the Swedish Ambassador for Gender Equality and Coordinator for Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy, explained that Sweden is the first country in the world to pursue a feminist foreign policy (policy). She further explained that Sweden chose to pursue a feminist foreign policy as it wants to see an end to all forms of discrimination against women and girls. And the starting point of the policy is that gender equality is not a women’s issue but is an issue for everyone.


In her presentation to the delegation, Ambassador Bernes also described the policy, which was officially launched in 2014, as a visionary policy that seeks to strengthen the rights, representation and resources for all women and girls based on the reality in which they live in. She informed the delegation that the policy can take many different forms as it is cognisant of the situation on the ground. Further according to Ambassador Bernes, the policy is not static or readily defined but rather an approach or perspective that strengthens women’s rights, representation and resources by starting with the actual situation on the ground. She highlighted that in pursuing this policy, Sweden has amongst others increased the dialogue with women’s organisations the world over and contributed to negotiations on gender equality within the United Nations and the European Union (EU).


Ambassador Bernes further related that the Swedish feminist foreign policy is based on the premise that you cannot have peace, security and development if half of the world’s population is excluded from the equation. And as such the feminist perspective has to be prominent in everything and not just in relation to rights and foreign aid. The feminist perspective has to be prominent in the formulation of major policies such as foreign security policies and international trade policies.


Ambassador Bernes acknowledged that the policy is not a fixed package and can mean many different things in different places and as such, it is rather a perspective for analysing and finding solutions to common problems. She further acknowledged that in areas where there might be not be resources and representation, goals have been formulated that will talk to such areas. She also informed the delegation that the policy aims to achieve the following for all women and girls: full enjoyment of human rights; freedom from physical, psychological and sexual violence; participation in preventing and resolving conflicts; and post-conflict peacebuilding; political participation and influence in all areas of society; economic rights and empowerment; and sexual and reproductive health and rights. A seventh objective has been added, which asks whether they are resources to realise the objectives of the Sweden feminist foreign policy.


Further according to Ambassador Bernes, implementation of the policy in Sweden has been characterised by the following key components: leadership, ownership, governance and support. The leadership component of implementation of the policy, has been clear and consistent right from the launch of the policy spreading quickly from a political level to other management levels. And certain managers have participated in a special Gender Coach Programme. The ownership component was established when all staff were invited to contribute their thoughts on the policy. The response was considerable and was used as a basis to formulate the policy’s action plan. The governance component has taken place since November 2015 through the action plan for the policy, which has been incorporated into governance and updated annually. The support component of implementation of the policy, has provided a coordination function assisting with communication, training and skills development in consultation with focal points at all departments.


In concluding her presentation to the delegation Ambassador Bernes stated despite only being place for almost 3 years, the policy has already made its mark at a multilateral, regional and bilateral level and countries such as Canada and United Kingdom have shown a keen interest in the Swedish feminist foreign policy. Canada has, for instance, launched a feminist development cooperation.


3.2       Day Two, Tuesday 3 October 2017       


During day two of the study tour, Tuesday 3 October 2017, the delegation took notes and learned from the three presentations. The first presentation was made by the Chief Public Prosecutor, Ms Lisa Tamm, together with the Senior Public Prosecutor, Mr Lars Argren. The second presentation was made by the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, Ms Kasja Wahlberg, of the Swedish Prosecution Authority. The last presentation, to the delegation, was made by Honourable Carina Ohlsson, a Swedish Parliamentarian.  



Chief Prosecutor, Ms Lisa Tamm (Ms Tamm or Chief Prosecutor Tamm) and Senior Prosecutor, Mr Lars Argen (Mr Argen) of the Swedish Prosecution Authority informed the delegation that the Sex Purchase Act is a gender neutral act that criminalises not only the buying of sex but also attempting to buy sex and helping someone to buy sex and this makes the Act a lot more effective. They further stated that payment for sex, in terms of the Act does not need to be payment in monetary terms but included payment in kind.  In their presentation to the delegation Ms Tamm and Mr Lars also indicated that the buying of sex is and parcel part of human trafficking and the sex buyer is the last link in the human trafficking chain. As such, the Swedish Prosecution Authority (SPA) takes the view that money from prostitution feeds trafficking and other forms of organised crime. She noted that the current penalty for a person caught buying sex is a fine of up to 50 days (equivalent to an amount between 500 and 1000 Euros) and the SPA was now pushing for the imposition of higher sentences than a fine. The offence of buying sex also carries with it a conditional sentence however no one has yet been sent to prison for buying sex.


Chief Prosecutor Tamm further told the delegation that the effects of the law have been to promote and foster gender equality and human rights in Swedish society and it should be borne in mind that the law has nothing to do with morality or what it is ethical and is instead an equality law that seeks to promote gender equality and protecting the rights of women who are engaged in prostitution. And in this sense the law sends the message that gender equality is important. Ms Tamm also described the law as “a money law” given that the money involved in prostitution is not taxed and by prosecuting the sex buyer the SPA ensures that the government yields some form of return. Chief Prosecutor Tamm further explained that Swedish policy does not perceive prostitution as a mutual act or an act done out of one’s free will. But rather as an act where one party is being exploited for the benefit and enjoyment of another party. More importantly, the law does not recognise the right to have sex as a human right.

As regards the demographic profile of sex buyers in Sweden, she told the delegation that sex buyers included sex addicts, lonely or disabled persons, persons seeking diversity in the sexual life and additional sex. She further told the delegation that most sex buyers are young and in the 20s and most of them are foreign nationals. This means foreign nationals tend to buy sex more than the Swedes. She added that 70% of sex buyers are in relationships. Ms Tamm also emphasised that the law has managed to change Swedish perceptions on buying sex because buying sex is seen as shameful act in Swedish society and sex buyers are even given a derogatory name which literally means an ugly cod looking like fish.

In their presentation, Ms Tamm and Mr Argen, also explained that the police commonly locate and apprehend sex buyers by pretending to be potential sex buyers. They further indicated that the SPA gathered the evidence against sex buyers from, amongst others, apartments; cars; hotels; adverts place on the internet; surveillance records and through interviews with victims and witnesses, police officers and social workers; and documented evidence (such as photos, film, wiretapping and money transfer transactions). They added that any successful apprehension and prosecution of sex buyers cannot be done without detailed coordination with social services. The social worker focusses on the victim (by offering the victim shelter, counselling, access to medical treatment and support during the trial) and the sex buyer (assisting the sex buyer to stop buying sex).

Further according to Ms Tamm the SPA together with the Swedish Police Authority have also educated those working in hotels to detect prostitution and this has resulted in women engaged in prostitution choosing to stay in rented apartments such as those advertised on Air B ‘n B.

As regards new trends in prostitution, Ms Tamm related that a major trend, in Sweden, is that sex buyers are becoming younger (and many of them are from other countries) and older men are also into buying young men. She stated that another growing trend is that victims of prostitution are instructed by their pimps to say they are independent and prostitution now involves lots of money including biticons. Ms Tamm advised the delegation that in order to implement a law of this nature the police will require extensive intelligence and surveillance capacity. She further advised that there is also a further need for specialised police, prosecutors and judges. She pointed out that Sweden has specialised prosecutors and polices unit but there is a need for specialised judges and the law can be enhanced, by a supplementary law forbidding Swedes to buy sex abroad just as Norwegians are not permitted to buy sex abroad. As a case in point she also mentioned that France had enacted a similar law over a year and half ago (i.e. April 2016) and had made the law broader by establishing specialised units to enforce the law and impose other forms of reprimand for offenders other than penalties. The French law, for instance, requires buyers to undergo compulsory courses for sex buyers intended deter them from buying sex. In concluding their presentation, Ms Tamm reiterated that Sweden does not view prostitution as mutual sex and emphasised that the criminal act lies with the sex buyer giving the prostitute money to have sex with him.

Further in concluding their presentation, Ms Tamm and Mr Argen, stated the majority of victims of prostitution in Sweden come from vulnerable backgrounds and are aware of the fact that it is better to be a prostitute in Sweden than in their countries of origin. Of particular significance they both highlighted that a lot of the prostitutes in Sweden originate from Eastern European countries such as Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania and some are even from Nigeria. And most women engaged in sex not are not more than 30 years of age.

  1. Presentation by the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings

In her presentation to the delegation, the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, Detective Superintendent, Kajsa Wahlberg (Detective Wahlberg) informed the delegation that as the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings her primary duty is to collect, analyse and process data about trafficking in human beings into and through Sweden. This duty includes inter alia conducting an assessment of Swedish trends in trafficking and working together with the prostitution units in Stockholm and the trafficking units in Malmo, Stockholm and Gothenburg. She also informed the delegation she is also charged with training police officers on trafficking, namely on the rights of victims of trafficking; how to identify a victim of trafficking; and on having a general understanding of trafficking.


Detective Wahlberg further explained that she is required to submit an annual report to the Swedish government and give recommendations to the government on how to uphold and protect the rights of victims of trafficking. Detective Wahlberg further told the delegation that Sweden was the first country in the EU to appoint a National Rapporteur in terms of the relevant provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings of 2005. She further reiterated that, in Sweden, prostitution is viewed as a form of violence against women and a threat to gender equality. She further mentioned that Sweden is bound, as a signatory of international instruments such as CEDAW, to observe and uphold the human rights of prostituted women.

Detective Wahlberg described the trafficking situation in Sweden as involving mostly women and girls who are trafficked through Sweden to neighbouring countries such as Norway, Denmark and Finland. She further indicated that these women and girls are trafficked from countries such as Romania, Nigeria, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Russia and Poland. Detective Wahlberg also pointed out that they have information that women and children from Romania and Bulgaria are trafficked into Sweden for purposes of forced begging, committing thefts and sex. She noted that in instances where men are trafficked, they are trafficked, often from Bulgaria and Romania, for purposes of forced labour and street begging.


In her presentation Detective Wahlberg also touched on the Sex Purchase Act and revealed that the Swedish government spent a total of 8 million SEK for its initial implementation and later, between 2004 and 2006, allocated an additional 30 million SEK for additional resources to address the issues of trafficking and law enforcement after a team of prosecutors, high ranking police officers presented a case for resources to be allocated for combatting trafficking. And out of the 30 million SEK allocated an amount of 10 million SEK was spent on training the police in this respect. Also according to Detective Wahlberg, between 2008 and 2011, the Swedish further allocated 40 million SEK for a related Government Action Plan. She added that most police officers initially had a negative attitude towards the Swedish approach to prostitution as they took the view that prostitution is a private matter and sympathised with offender and did not want to be responsible for breaking up the offender’s marriage. However, as the correlation between prostitution and other crimes such as trafficking, drug use and violence starting emerging, more and more police officers started warming up to the approach.


Detective Wahlberg further mentioned that in 2010, the Act was evaluated and found to have hampered the demand for prostitution and assisted the authorities to deal with the trafficking aspects of prostitution. She highlighted that since the introduction of the law, not a single prostitute has been murdered in Sweden as compared to Germany where prostitution is legal however since 2002, 5000 women (in prostitution) are reported to have been murdered. Detective Wahlberg also informed the delegation that between 2011 and 2015, the SPA secured a total 1549 convictions and 2990 police reports were made in relation to the buying of sex. She emphasised that today street prostitution in Sweden has reduced and on any given night there are 10 to 15 women engaged in prostitution on the streets of Stockholm and 15 to 20 women over the weekend. She further accentuated that 75% of women engaged in prostitution originate from other countries. 

Further in presentation, Detective Wahlberg, stressed that the overall stigma associated with prostitution and buying sex has also helped deter persons from buying sex as persons caught buying sex are likely to be fired from work if such a person is, for example, a police officer. As a case in point she gave the example of a judge of the court of appeal who was caught buying sex and was later demoted to a lower division court. In concluding her presentation, she indicated that the law has undergone a review processes and there is a proposal to have varying forms of punishment ranging from 6 months for a normal offence and up to1 year for a grave or grievous offence (e.g. where a person buys sex from a person with a physical and mental handicap).

In concluding her presentation, Detective Wahlberg stated that the Act has a benefits for victims in that victims can freely give statements to the police and are further entitled to receive support from social services. She also added that the Act benefits society as a whole in that it has hampered the prostitution market in Sweden – less clients equals less demand. The Act has also changed Swedish attitudes on prostitution and has rendered Sweden less attractive for traffickers. The Act has also created a benefit for the court in that the all actors participate in the court hearing. Further in concluding her presentation, Detective Wahlberg informed the delegation a number of arguments were advanced against the Act, especially when it was first passed, however none of these arguments have proved to be valid to date. These arguments included the following: prostitution will go underground; violence against women in prostitution will increase; Swedish men will go abroad to buy sex; the market for women in prostitution will be destroyed; and the problem of prostitution will be exported to neighbouring countries.

  1. Presentation by Honourable Carina Ohlsson

Hon Carina Ohlsson (Hon Ohlsson), a Member of the Swedish Parliament, informed the delegation that besides being a Swedish Parliamentarian sitting on the Committee on Social Insurance (dealing with pension benefits, migration, social security contributions and family issues), she is also the President of Women’s Association (Association) of the ruling Social Democratic Party and a former head of a civil society organisation on gender empowerment.

In her presentation Hon Ohlsson stated that the Association actively participated in the national debate on whether to criminalise the buying of sex prior to the enactment of the Sex Purchase Act. In this respect, she informed the delegation that the Association together with other interested role players looked at a number of issues in trying to find the best way to combat prostitution in Sweden. She further indicated that during the national debate the then Minister of Justice was not keen on the law and the then Minister of Gender Equality is the one who pushed for the introduction of the legislation.


She also noted that almost two decades into the law, Sweden has influenced countries such as Norway, France, Canada and Ireland to adopt its legislative approach and international organisations such as the European Parliament have lauded the Swedish approach to prostitution. Moreover, there is a general view in Swedish that prostitution is a form of violence against women and that if you combat trafficking you also combat prostitution as they represent both sides of the coin. She also mentioned that mostly Eastern Europe and African women were involved in prostitution in Sweden.


The delegation also learned, from the presentation by Hon Ohlsson, that pornography is not included in the Swedish law criminalising the buying of sex. However, notwithstanding this, the issue recently came up at a Social Democrat Congress and discussions have taken place that are aimed at including it in the future, especially since most of the women organisations are expressing concerns that it has been excluded from the law and are exploring the possibility of including it as it fuels the demand for prostitution. further indicated that she is positive that one day that the legislation in Sweden will criminalise pornography as is the case in countries such as England.


She concluded her presentation by stating that since the inception of the Act, there has not been a single political party that has wanted to do away with the law. And this has encouraged them as legislators, to look into having tougher legislation around the issues of prostitution, specifically at enacting legislation which will punish Swedes for buying sex abroad as is the case in Norway. She added that legislative reforms in this regard, will also see an increase in the fines and convictions for buying sex.


Also of particular importance, Hon Ohlsson informed the delegation that prostitution is big business in certain quarters of the world and as such there is economic pressure in those parts of the world to ensure prostitution remains legal such as in the United States State of Nevada where prostitution is legalised due to the strong financial and political interest in it. She added that despite research showing that prostitution is not necessarily a choice and 9 out 10 women in prostitution, wish to exit it, there are institutions like the George Soros Foundation which are opposed to the Swedish law or approach and even fund research aimed at showing that the Swedish law or approach to prostitution denies women the right to engage in sex work.


3.3        Day Three, Wednesday 4 October 2017


Day three of the study tour saw the delegation taking notes and learning from presentations from the National Coordinator for Trafficking and Prostitution; the Swedish Civil Society Platform Against Human Trafficking and the Swedish Chancellor of Justice and Professor Lena Holmqvist.


  1. the National Coordinator for Trafficking and Prostitution


The presentation by the National Coordinator Against Trafficking and Prostitution (National Coordinator), Mr Patrik Cederlof, focussed on sharing background information with the delegation on the structures and coordination in involved in preventing and combatting prostitution and human trafficking in Sweden.

In his presentation the National Coordinator informed the delegation that Sweden has a largely decentralised administrative system that is characterised by broad administrative independence and composed of 21 counties, 290 municipalities and 7 police districts. The decentralisation of Sweden’s administration, in this sense, has also meant there are social services units in all 290 units and, unlike in other countries, these units are not NGO driven. He further explained that the Office of the National Coordinator (Office) was established in 2009 as part of the previous Action Plan Against Prostitution and Trafficking and is charged with ensuring national coordination in working against prostitution and trafficking The Office further runs the Rehabilitation Program and Safe Return Programs, established in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which programs are intended to benefit victims of prostitution and human trafficking. In addition to ensuring that there is a coordinated approach to combatting trafficking and prostitution in Sweden and running the Rehabilitation Program and Safe Return Programs, the National Coordinator is also responsible for running a number of awareness campaigns using various media platforms including billboards adverts aimed at dissuading Swedes from, inter alia, buying sex at home and when on holiday outside the country and engaging in forced labour practices.

  • delegation was also informed by the National Coordinator that the establishment of the Office, began with the establishment of National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Human Beings (Taskforce). The Taskforce includes inter alia the National Police; the Specialised Police Units in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo; BOSS Unit; Border Police; Office of the Prosecutor; the Swedish Migration Agency; Swedish Tax Authority and the Work Environment Agency. The Taskforce is also the first point of contact and it adopts a multidisciplinary holistic approach in offering direct support to agencies such as NGOs in operational cases via phone, email and personal interactions. And further serves as a national reference group, at all levels, for developing training methods and materials and also sets up or participates in trainings where the Taskforce team gives operational hands on input at a local, national and international level.


The National Coordinator also mentioned that the County Administrative working Group (LAMP) is the link between the national and regional in the fight against prostitution and human trafficking,  as it is responsible for increasing knowledge at a local level in the issues of prostitution and human trafficking. He further indicated that county or regional coordinators are appointed to ensure a seamless and holistic approach, at county and regional level, that sees the police and social services working very closely together. He revealed that there are currently 6 county or regional coordinators and they help to ensure the social welfare for the victim is strengthened at the beginning of any case as they offer direct support in cases of prostitution and human trafficking.


In the course of the presentation by the National Coordinator, the delegation further learned that the 20 plus NGOs working in the areas of prostitution and human trafficking, in Sweden, are required to be part of a platform that ensures there is only one voice speaking for NGOs across Sweden (and not many voices). The platform is known as the Swedish Civil Society Platform Against Human Trafficking and ensures that there is no duplication of work amongst the various NGOs and improves the effectiveness of the dialogue between the state and NGOs.


The delegation further learned that Sweden has a strong labour market and after opening up its borders to Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, the country experienced an influx of persons who are been trafficked into Sweden and subsequently forced to be street beggars or berry pickers (Sweden gives individuals the right to pick berries or mushrooms and sell them without paying taxes if they make less than 700 SEK from the sale of these mushrooms or berries).


  1. Presentation by the Swedish Civil Society Platform Against Human Trafficking


Ms Madeleine Sundell (Ms Sundell) made a presentation to the delegation on behalf of the Swedish Civil Society Platform Against Human Trafficking (Platform) started in 2013 and is the umbrella NGO for several NGO’s working with the victims of prostitution and human trafficking.

In her presentation Ms Sundell shared some of the Platform’s findings around human trafficking in Sweden. In this respect she reported that human trafficking is mostly observed in the 3 biggest cities in Sweden, namely Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo and it occurs in all forms – including sexual and labour exploitation, forced begging. And the most commonly identified form of trafficking in Sweden is trafficking for sexual purposes however since 2010 trafficking for purposes of forced labour, begging and criminal activities have also emerged as a growing trend and the demand sees people from Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East (particularly from Syria and Afghanistan) and Northern Africa being trafficked into Sweden. Ms Sundell also indicated that there is also an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors and pregnant women being trafficked into and through Sweden.

In her presentation, Ms Sundell also acknowledged the work done by the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) in monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings of 2005 (Convention) by Member States. Ms Sundell also applauded the National Support Programme (NSP), initiated by the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. The NSP is intended to provide improved and additional support to VOTs and although it is a government funded programme, it is run by the Platform and runs parallel to support measures offered under the Transnational Referral Mechanism and the Return Programme. She further informed the delegation that NSP was contributing towards the success of GRETA’s work in Sweden.

Ms Sundell also stated that even though the Sex Purchase Act is an effective starting tool for combatting trafficking it does however need to augmented by extensive exit packages or mechanisms, alternatives to trafficking and research into migration laws and how they enable the exploitation of human beings. Further according to Ms Sundell, official data from 2015, shows that there are low numbers for convictions for trafficking - 2 persons charged for trafficking and 2 convicted for trafficking and 179 trafficking crimes were reported to the police.


3.3.3 Presentation by the Chancellor of Justice and Professor Lena Holmqvist


In her presentation, the Chancellor of Justice of Sweden, Her Excellency, Anna Skarhed informed the delegation that the office of Chancellor of Justice was established in 1713 and explained that its function is by nature a hybrid between a government lawyer and ombudsman. In this respect, she also outlined the functions of her Officer as including supervision over the state and municipalities; deciding on compensation for damages caused by the failure of authorities; offering legal representation to the state in court; offering legal advice to the state; and exclusive public prosecution in cases concerning freedom of the press.


The Chancellor further reiterated that gender equality is at the core of the Sex Purchase Act and prostitution is considered illegal in Sweden because it is viewed as going against the notions of gender equality. She also told the delegation that more than 75% of people engaged in prostitution, in Sweden, are from Eastern and Southern Europe and constitute some of the marginalised people in society. She added that prostitution is incompatible with international human rights principles.

In her presentation the Chancellor, also highlighted that the root of prostitution lies in the demand for prostitution and this has rendered prostitution a big business that is connected to other criminal activities such as violence, drug dealing and human trafficking. She further added that prostitution cannot be separated from crimes such as trafficking and to normalise prostitution is to normalise sexual discrimination and violence against women. The Chancellor also informed the delegation that the law against prostitution has ensured that no single prostitute is killed whereas in Germany, where prostitution is legalised, it is reported that over the last 10 years, 70 prostitutes have been murdered.

She further mentioned that the ban on buying sex was evaluated in July 2010 and the report on this evaluation showed that the ban resulted in the halving of the number of persons exploited in street prostitution since 1999 whereas in 2008 Denmark and Norway, for instance, had 3 times as many individuals in street prostitution. The ban has also made it less attractive to establish a more extensive prostitution business in Sweden and has not increased the incidents of indoor prostitution. The latter was proven by a survey that concluded that there is no indication that prostitution in Sweden has gone underground and prostitution in Sweden, unlike in comparable countries, has not increased since 1999. Moreover, a study conducted in 1999, after the ban was imposed, showed that 76% of respondents were in favour of the prohibition of the purchase of sexual services and support for the criminalisation was also above 70% in two later studies. This goes to show the ban has had a significant normative effect on Swedish society and a deterrent effect on sex buyers. When the ban was introduced concerns were raised that it would adversely affect those exploited in prostitution and prostitution will be driven underground thereby increasing the overall risk of abuse for prostitutes however these concerns have proven to be unfounded. Instead, the ban has further discouraged the establishment of organised crime such as human trafficking in Sweden and this is important given that in Europe alone everyday 140 000 individuals are victims of trafficking.

The Chancellor concluded her presentation in stating that the ban has had the intended effects in that it has discouraged prospective buyers; reduced the number of customers and thereby the number of exploited person; and made the business less profitable for pimps and brothels. She also revealed that before the ban not all political parties were in favour of the law but now all political parties are in favour of the law. The Chancellor further concluded that when the Sex Purchase Act came into effect on 1 January 1999, Sweden became the first country in the world to prohibit the purchase of sexual services however the wording of the Sex Purchase Act will need to be reviewed because it gives the impression that the purchase of sex is a service and this is not the case.

3.4       Day Four, Thursday 5 October 2017


During the penultimate day of the study tour, the delegation took notes and learned from the four presentations. The first presentation was made by Detective Inspector Per Englund of the Trafficking Unit of the National Operations Department in the Swedish Police Authority. The second presentation was made to the delegation by Ms Josefine Appelquist and Ms Anna Sander, founders of Talita, a non-profit organisation offering both acute and long term support to women who have been exploited in prostitution, pornography or human trafficking for sexual purposes. The last two presentations made to the delegation were by Ms Marie Johansson of KAST – Mottagnungen, a treatment centre for people who buy sex and a representative from Mike Mottagningen, a treatment centre for people who get paid to have sex or are using sex to hurt themselves.


  1. Detective Inspector Per Englund of the Trafficking Unit at the National Operations Department


Detective Inspector Per Englund (Detective Inspector) began his presentation by informing the delegation that prior to 2015, there were 200 independent police regions in Sweden however after 2015 there are only 7 police regions and 1 prosecution group. He added that before 2015, county police did not look beyond the Swedish borders when fighting crime and this has now changed because of the centralisation of the Swedish administrative system as information beyond county borders is readily available.


Further in his opening remarks, the Detective Inspector outlined that the Palermo Protocol of 2000, which Sweden has ratified, requires that Sweden prevent, protect and prosecute human trafficking. He also went onto to outline the steps that the Swedish Police Authority takes in successfully prosecuting human trafficking, which steps include the theoretical and operative intelligence training of police on the Sex Purchase Act and the extensive surveillance and monitoring of communications (this entails court authorised wiretapping, camera surveillance, intercepting of communication and room surveillance).

Detective Inspector Per Englund also informed the delegation that prostitution has not gone underground and is now on the internet as prostitutes have resorted to posting adverts on the internet. Sex buyers according to the Detective Inspector are mainly men and include priests, police officers, family man, politicians and prosecutors. He cited as an example the arrest and conviction of the former Swedish Chief Prosecutor for Internal Affairs as a sex buyer.

As regards the effectiveness of the Sex Purchase Act, he stated that the legislation is effective and needs an interdisciplinary approach or cooperation between state authorities, NGOs and social services for its successful implementation. He further stated that the legislation benefits the victim or prostitute, court processes, as well as society as a whole and this is evidenced by the fact that they are very few prostitutes in Sweden.

In concluding his presentation, the Detective Inspector informed the delegation that the vast majority of the Swedish public is in great support of the legislation and this has contributed to the success of the legislation. Further in concluding his presentation, Detective Inspector Per Englund stated that prostitutes in Sweden have been victims of violent crimes such as robbery and rape but not murder.


  1. the of Talita


The presentation by the founders of Talita, Ms Appelquist and Ms Sander, informed the delegation that Talita is 20-year-old organisation (founded by specialised trauma therapists) that assists women who are exploited through pornography, sex trafficking and prostitution. The presentation further revealed that Talita has shelters in Stockholm and Gothenburg and Romania and Mongolia and the treatment that is offered at these shelters strives for a holistic approach. According to Ms Appelquist and Ms Sander, the problem of prostitution is a complex and multifaceted one and often involves women who have suffered certain traumas as children and this invariably affects their sense of value. They added that it is important to see the whole picture or the whole woman in the process of offering treatment to a woman who has been engaged in prostitution. They further informed the delegation that Talita has established a rehabilitation programme which includes inter alia offering women exiting prostitution safe housing; trauma therapy; and self-strengthening education (brain and memory, boundary settings, dealing with strong emotions, planning for the future, transition into independent living).  Talita’s programme also involves following these women for almost two years and ensuring that they have assistance 24 hours a day. Given that some of the women are too afraid to go back to their countries and Talita assists them to seek asylum and also assists them to not be re-trafficked. The rehabilitation programme that Talita employs has been evaluated by a leading Swedish University and the evaluation established that close to 100 percent of women who finish the programme do not go back to prostitution. The rehabilitation programme is further premised on the notion that women who wish to exit prostitution should be supported the entire way (and not for part of the way) until they have the stability and the security.

The founders of Talita also shared with the delegation that that they had not encountered one single woman who chose to enter prostitution out of their own free will and women advance a range of reasons for entering prostitution which can be attributed to either external coercion or internal coercion. Internal coercion is brought on by childhood traumas that has taught them to disassociate and not really be present in themselves and put themselves in violent positions. In this sense, some of the women in prostitution are like people who are always cutting themselves up. As an NGO, Talita also tends to adopt a flexible approach in relation to the assistance it offers to victims of prostitution or human trafficking. As a case in point the founders cited an example of a woman from the Czech Republic who travelled to Sweden and decided to enter into prostitution so that she could pay off the huge debts that he husband had incurred through gambling. Talita assisted the woman to exit prostitution and arranged to send her back to the Czech Republic and also sent her an amount of 500 Euros per month in assistance.

As regards the Swedish model or Nordic model to prostitution, the founders of Talita indicated that the Swedish approach is correct as it is on the side of the prostitute who is the weaker party in the equation. The man has power over the prostitute in the form of money, status, physical strength whereas the prostitute has nothing - laws are meant to protect the weakest in society and this law does this. Further according Ms Appelquist and Ms Sander, Sweden did 30 years of research before passing the law and established that prostitution is a form of violence against women and women in prostitution are victims and the weaker party and as such need protection. They added that the law has also changed attitudes and mentalities on prostitution and sends a strong message that prostitution is a form of violence against women and this the message trickles down to the women Talita works with and ensures the police and other professional treat the women in prostitution with respect and dignity. The presentation also informed the delegation that Talita has a good relationship with police and the county administrative board as Ms Appelquist and Ms Sander indicated that the often police refer the women in prostitution to Talita.

During the presentation by Talita, members of the delegation were also told about the Reality Check Project which aims to increase the knowledge of young people about pornography which has become the primary source of sexual education for the majority of young people today. The Project equips teachers, parents and youth leaders with knowledge on the dangers of pornography and a Project of this kind is much needed in Sweden as younger men are now buying sex and admit that they buy sex because they want to try the things that are fuelled by pornography. This trend is concerning as research has shown that there are links between pornography and prostitution.

The presentation, by the founders of Talita, also lauded France for recently adopting the Swedish approach to prostitution and enacting a law that provides for the right of those engaged in prostitution to support services. The French law also requires judges and lawyers to be specially trained in this regard and in one year into the law France has arrested over 1500 sex buyers.


3.4.3 Presentation by KAST Mottagningen


In her brief presentation to the delegation, Ms Marie Johansson (Ms Johansson), of KAST –Mottagningen (KAST) informed the delegation that KAST specifically provides treatment to people who buy sex and are addicted to pornography and phone sex.

She also informed the delegation that, from 2000, KAST was initially consulting on the phone and in 2006, it began placing an emphasis on therapy and took a decision, in 2009, to work on various outreach initiatives. Ms Johansson also stated that in May 2017, KAST started work with internet outreach and has had good results in this regard and has even put adverts in newspapers encouraging people to get treatment.

In her presentation Ms Johansson mentioned that KAST’s target groups includes adult surfers; strip clubs; phone sex and sex chatters; relatives of sex or pornography addicts; and couples (i.e. counselling with relatives to cope with the trauma with relations who buy sex). She related that people give different reasons for buying sex including anxiety; abuse; low self-esteem; and missing a father figure. And KAST has realised that most of these people do not think about the problem and instead resort to dealing with the problem by buying sex. She further related that KAST sees between 35 to 40 persons per month and younger persons are also making use of the services on offer at KAST. She also revealed most of the people who receive treatment at KAST live a double life and love their wives and families – in fact 90% of persons who use KAST are married. And most of them indicate that after they have bought sex they feel emptiness; anxiety; disgusted and filthy and have tried lots of time to stop on their own and have failed. In closing her presentation, Ms Johansson, stated that most of the men who KAST helps stop buying sex after they have completed their treatment.


3.4.4 Presentation by Mika Mottagningen


The presentation by the representative from Mika Mottagningen (Mika), a treatment centre for people who get paid to have sex or are using sex to hurt themselves, explained that the name the centre is named because Mika is a gender neutral name that applies to both men and women. The representative from Mika also indicated that the centre counsels approximately 100 street prostitutes per year and employs 5 full time social workers. Moreover, Mika’s target group is individuals who are 18 years and older, live in Stockholm, have some lived experience of prostitution or have been exposed to human trafficking. Mika also assist relatives of those who are receiving treatment. The conditions attached to treatment at Mika are that treatment is voluntary, free of charge and subject to professional secrecy and persons receiving treatment can remain anonymous throughout the treatment process. The type of services that Mika offers include support and counselling; practical help; medical assistance (i.e. access to a midwife, gynaecologist and psychiatrist); and dissemination of knowledge. Mika also conducts outreach programmes on street prostitution and internet related prostitution whereby social workers go out, at night, once a twice a week on the streets or they visit internet escort sites. During these outreach programmes, the social workers working for Mika carry and hand out business cards that say nothing about prostitution and also invite people to contact Mika for treatment. More than half of the people that the social workers from Mika meet are from outside the country – mostly Romanian girls and some Swedish girls. The typical background of Mika’s target group is that most of the people that receive treatment at the centre were neglected as children; subjected to domestic violence, loneliness; dysfunctional family relations; or suffered some form of trauma, sexual abuse and rape or suffered some eating disorder.

The representative of Mika further informed the delegation that when the social workers at Mika ask their clients why they entered into prostitution, they give reasons such as money, revenge, self-harm, compulsion, searching for affirmation and acknowledgment. The Mika approach is to use adapted, professional and respectful language when addressing or talking to clients and not to demoralise or condemn them. The Mika approach also prizes time and patience and cooperation with other organs or agencies in society (e.g. enable the clients who exit get a place to stay or study). Mika also takes the view that the decision to enter into prostitution is not a free choice per se as it is always related to a specific context – either that a client was a victim of crime or experienced some economic, social and psychological disadvantage that compelled him or her to enter into prostitution. Also of importance, Mika does not refer to its’ clients as victims given that this diminishes their status. And more than 80% of clients left prostitution after receiving treatment from the centre.

3.5        Day Five, Friday 6 October 2017


On day five of the study tour the delegation interacted with Dr Wanjiku Kaime-Atterhog (Dr Kaime-Atterhog), Ph. D, a researcher from Uppsala University. Dr Kaime-Atterhog shared some of the findings made in past and ongoing research that she has conducted, in collaboration with other researcher, in relation to the Swedish model – namely the Preventing Demand for Sexual Exploitation in Europe (Desire Project). In her interaction with the Committee, Dr Kaime-Atterhog also spoke on the doctoral research work she conducted and which culmintated in the establishment of the House of Plenty Foundation (HOPE Foundation).

The Preventing Demand for Sexual Exploitation in Europe


The Preventing Demand for Sexual Exploitation in Europe (Project) is funded by the European Union’s Internal Security Fund and aims to generate a better understanding of the impact of different legislative and policy approaches on the prevalence of human trafficking. The Project has five project partners – namely Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden. Poland and Croatia and is a comparative study that is focussed on four different approaches, policies and legal frameworks in Netherlands, Croatia, Poland and Sweden – Netherlands legalises sex work, Sweden criminalises sex buyers, Croatia criminalises sex workers and Poland is somwehere in between.


The Project further seeks to draw definitive conclusions on the best approach to take and whether there is a relationship between legislation and the policies on sex work and human trafficking. The Project is based on the presumption that not all sex work is sexual exploitation and a form of trafficking human beings. It instead assumes that there is a link between human trafficking and sex work when there is exploitation combined with an action and a means. The agenda set by the research partners of the Project includes asking the following questions:


3.5.1     How do we understand terms such as demand, sexual exploitation and prevention?

3.5.2     What is relationship between different legislative approaches and their impact on the demand that fuels trafficking in human for sexual exploitation?

3.5.3     What legsilative models make sex workers feel safe?

3.5.4     What concrete evidence show that reducing the demand for sexual services can be used as a method to prevent human trafficking?

3.5.5     What avenues, other than law, may assist in limiting the demand for sexual exploitation?

The Project is further broken up into 5 work packages, namely:


3.5.6     Work Package 1: Development of a working understanding of key terms such as sexual exploitation, exploitation, prevention and demand;

3.5.7     Work Package 2: Conceptual mapping of laws and policies addressing sex work in the selected countries. Examining the impact of the different laws on human trafficking.

3.5.8     Work Package 3: Empirical research to determine the perceptions of sex workers, consumers, law enforcers and the general public as to the different existing laws and policies;

3.5.9     Work Package 4: Analysis of alternative approaches including innovative ways to use technology in a manner that can facilitate prevention of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

3.5.10   Work Package 5: Provide concrete, evidence based conclusions on how demand, which fuels trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation, can be reduced as a method for prevention. Consolidate recommendations for long term sustainable implementation of measures aimed at the reduction of the demand for sexual exploitation.

The project partners, of the Project, have at this stage completed Work Packages 1 and 2 and are presently carrying out Work Package 3 which entails conducting empirical research to determine the perceptions of sex workers, consumers, law enforcers and the general public as to the different existing laws and policies.


The Project has so far determined that how you define the term “sexual exploitation” is a key element to preventing and combatting the phenomenon. However, the challenges to crafting an up to date and comprehensive definition of the term include that it is illegal in nature and therefore hard to study; it quickly adapts to changes in laws, policies, culture and markets; it carries its own complexity; and difficult to identify and prove.


Further according to the Project, sexual exploitation can take one of two forms – commercial and non- commercial sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation refers to acts such as sex work, phone sex and pornography while non-commercial sexual exploitation refers to acts such as sexual abuse, incest and rape. Moreover, because there are commonalities between the term and human trafficking, the term has to be defined in the context of human trafficking as it ensures that there is an emphasis on the abuse and the position of vulnerability that the trafficked person finds themselves in. In other words, in defining the term, the persons lack of informed, conscious and independent consent to the unfair exploitation must be specifically present and the abuse of a position of vulnerability, trust or power as a means of exploitation must also be evident.


Work Package 1 of the Project has resulted in a definition of sexual exploitation within and beyond the context of human trafficking as “any actual or attempted interaction retrieval of sexual activity that leaves one party worse off (psychologically, physically and economically) than it was before the interaction and/or than it was entitled to or that is mutually beneficial but occurs in an “unfair” and/or “vulnerable” context.” The Project has further recommended that, in defining “sexual exploitation”, policy models cover instances in which sexual exploitation occurs beyond the established realms; take into account the context of vulnerability and use a collaborative approach to prevention; define what constitutes an unfair interaction; and develop a holistic approach to prevention of sexual exploitation by using an individualistic model of responsibility.


House of Plenty


The House of Plenty (HOPE) was established in 1997 when Dr Kaime-Atterhog conducted her doctoral research on street children and their care givers in Nakuru, Kenya. The findings of her research showed that although there were many existing organisations that offered food, shelter and education, many children still returned to the streets and the number of street children continued to grow. In the course of her doctoral research, Dr Kaime-Atterhog gained the children’s trust and they told her about their needs and how they would like these needs to be met. The children also shared their hopes and dreams with her and further narrated that because they were mistreated in these organisations, they preferred to remain on the streets begging or engaging in prostitution rather than live with the abuse they experienced at these organisations. It was on this basis that Dr Kaime-Atterhog along with the 12 street kids participating in her research, founded HOPE, a safe shelter for these children. The shelter was managed by a house mother (responsible for the day to day upkeep of children) and also had an in-house teacher (responsible for home schooling the children) and social worker (responsible for taking care of the emotional needs of the children).


In addition, to establishing the shelter Dr Kaime-Atterhog also developed a training programme at Uppsala University, in Sweden, for caregivers working with marginalised children and held the first course, in April 1998, where she taught her methods on how to meet children’s needs, but to do it from the children’s perspective. Her research and methods to rehabilitate and reintegrate street children into society eventually became an international training programme for caregivers in 13 countries in Africa (in countries such as South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya) and Asia (in countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam). So far, 150 caregivers from government agencies, NGOs and community based organisations including doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, police officers from around the world have participated in her training programmes. The training programmes were developed, by Dr Kaime-Atterhog, after months of observing caregivers and with the help of children under the care of caregivers. The training programmes are aimed at changing attitudes and improving knowledge, skills and methods to enable caregivers to develop good working relationships with children and offer good quality care. The trained caregivers, in turn, educate others in their respective countries and registered and established regional and national networks of caregivers, called the Africa/Asia Network of Caregivers (commonly referred to as ANoCC), and through which they can continue learning together and supporting each other and other caregivers to improve the quality of their work.


In 2012, Dr Kaime-Atterhog and others also established a self-sufficient vocational training institute for poor children and youth in Kenya. The institute combines IT, English, Entrepreneurship and Performing Art to equip the children with theoretical and practical knowledge that makes them ready to compete in the job market, take on higher education or start their own business.


HOPE Social Innovation Methodology


The HOPE Social Innovation Methodology (Methodology) is a research methodology that was developed by Dr Kaime-Atterhog in order to facilitate social innovation by creating a safe space, among and with the affected people, where social change can be expressed and understood. The Methodology is premised on 3 grounding principles, namely:


  1. Grounding Principle 1: Societal change is the ultimate impact (identify the stakeholders and get them to work towards common goals);
  2. Grounding Principle 2: Societal change is a process driven by trust, co-creation and action (meet the affected community and identify the perceived challenges); and
  3. Grounding Principle 3: Context specific (understand the context and define the problem).


A focal point of the Methodology is to research, rehabilitate and reintegrate affected individuals. The Methodology also brings communities together to support rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives or projects and take ownership of them to ensure their success. More importantly, it is adaptable and works whether implemented in collaboration with government initiatives, as is the case in Uganda or using a community based approach, as is the case in Kenya. According to Dr Kaime-Atterhog, the Swedish model of partial decriminalisation may be adapted along with the HOPE Methodology to suit the African context and break the cycle of poverty and provide choices to affected individuals.




The Committee made the following observations on the bases of the presentations it received and its various engagements and interactions during the study tour:


4.1       Sweden’s current government has declared itself as a feminist government which means that gender equality and gender mainstreaming are central to its priorities.


4.2       Prior to the enactment of the Sex Purchase Act, a rigorous and robust debate took place, in Sweden, on whether or not to criminalise prostitution.


4.3       The Sex Purchase Act is a gender neutral act that criminalises not only the buying of sex but also an attempt to buy sex and helping someone to buy sex.


4.4       The Sex Purchase Act has nothing to do with morality or ethics. It is instead an equality law that seeks to promote gender equality and protecting the rights of women who are engaged in prostitution.


4.5       Although the Sex Purchase Act has not managed to rid Sweden of prostitution, it has managed to reduce the demand for prostitution and change Swedish attitudes towards the issue of buying sex.


4.6       Swedish authorities, in particular the police authorities, initially had a negative attitude towards the Sex Purchase Act as they took the view that prostitution is a private matter however as the correlation between prostitution and other crimes such as trafficking, drug use and violence starting emerging, more and more police officers started warming up to the approach.

4.7       Sweden’s feminist foreign policy is a visionary policy that is aimed at promoting women’s and girls’ rights, representation and resources based on the reality in which they live in.


4.8       The majority of victims of prostitution in Sweden originate from Eastern European countries such as Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania and some are even from the African continent.


4.9       Sweden is a country of destination for trafficking, particularly for trafficking in persons for purposes of forced labour as berry pickers and street beggars (for e.g. gypsies from Romania and Bulgaria are trafficked by criminal syndicates to beg on the streets of Sweden).


4.10      The buying of sex, in Sweden, is viewed as part and parcel part of human trafficking by Swedish authorities and the sex buyer is seen as the last link in the chain of human trafficking. Moreover, money from prostitution is seen as feeding trafficking and other forms of organised crime.


4.11      Sweden was the first country, within the European Union, to appoint a National Rapporteur in terms of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.


4.12      The coordinated and multi-agency approach that Swedish authorities have adopted in addressing the issues of prostitution and trafficking has strengthened the implementation and impact of Sex Purchase Act. This approach requires, amongst other things, having specialised police units, prosecutors and social workers and further entails NGOs offering extensive programmes for those wishing to exit prostitution and assisting them to go back to their countries of origin.


4.13      There are currently more than 20 NGOs, in Sweden, working with victims of prostitution and human trafficking and these NGOs are part of the Swedish Civil Society Platform Against Trafficking (Platform). The Platform is actively involved, in working hand in hand with the Swedish authorities, in combatting and preventing prostitution and human trafficking.


4.14      Sweden has influenced countries such as Norway, France, Canada and Ireland to adopt its legislative approach to prostitution and international organisations such as the European Parliament have lauded the Swedish approach to prostitution.






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