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Is sex work?
Date:2/8/2009

Purchasing sex has been forbidden in Sweden since 1999. The Sex Purchase Act was passed in order to show that prostitution is a practice that is not acceptable in Sweden. Two years later the Bundestag, the German parliament, approved a law with the aim of integrating sex sellers into society. Since then prostitutes in Germany have been entitled to unemployment benefit, sickness benefit and pensions in the same way as all other skilled workers.

Furthermore, running a brothel has been made legal. The change in the law was intended to reduce the stigmatisation and discrimination of those who sell sex.

- The disparity in the countries' prostitution policies is partly due to their view of the welfare state, of feminism and of religion, explains Susanne Dodillet at the Department of Literature, History of ideas and Religion, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The Sex Purchase Act in Sweden was introduced as a way of influencing society's view of gender equality. Prostitution was described as an unacceptable expression of society's genderised power structures.

According to the author of the thesis, a normative law such as the Sex Purchase Act is made possible partly due to the comparatively high level of trust that Swedish people have in the state. She considers that Germans, on the other hand, tend rather to question the state's responsibility for setting norms.

- It has something to do with the experience of two dictatorships.

Swedes have had a positive experience of their welfare state, but both the National Socialist dictatorship during the Third Reich and the socialist GDR highlight the fact that states can abuse their normative power. It was the German left that pushed through the legalisation of prostitution and they emphasised that the state should not regulate sexual relationships between consenting adults.

When it comes to feminism, radical feminist theories have gained a strong influence in Sweden, emphasising pow
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Contact: Susanne Dodillet
susanne.dodillet@idehist.gu.se
46-070-490-8812
University of Gothenburg
Source:Eurekalert  

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