Sweden wants to ban buying sex abroad

Sweden's Social Democratic minority government plans to extend its domestic ban on the purchase of sexual services and also criminalise such transactions abroad. Not only Swedes but also foreigners living in Sweden who buy sex abroad would be punishable under the law. Swedish commentators are unanimous in their criticism of the measure.

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Sydsvenskan (SE) /

An unreasonable ban

Sweden would open a Pandora's box by punishing the purchase of sex abroad, Sydsvenskan fears:

“One example of how that could pan out: In Sweden abortion is legal, in Ireland it's only legal when the mother's life is at risk. If the double criminality principle is eased, Ireland could start punishing women who come to Sweden for an abortion. And that's not all. The exceptions for double criminality in Swedish criminal law apply not only to Swedish citizens but also to foreigners living in Sweden. In the Irish example that could mean that a Swedish woman living in Ireland could be punished for having an abortion in Sweden. It's no surprise that the study commissioned by the government advises against criminalising the purchase of sex abroad.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

An extremely problematic legal situation

Punishing the purchase of sex abroad is hardly enforceable, Dagens Nyheter believes:

“If the law is passed its enforcement would pose considerable problems. To investigate infractions committed abroad the cooperation of the local authorities is needed. However, that can hardly be counted on when the act in question does not constitute an offence in the place where it was committed. For example the law could also affect Nordic citizens resident in Sweden. A Dane working in Malmö who buys sex at home in Copenhagen could be punished. In general, this law would be difficult to implement, it would delegitimise our legal system and undermine international legal principles. Criminalising the purchase of sex abroad is simply a bad idea. Not because it wouldn't have positive effects, but because it would have far more negative repercussions.”