In Sweden, prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. In 1999, as part of a Violence Against Women bill, Sweden passed a law that criminalized the buyers of sex while decriminalizing individuals in prostitution and providing them with support services, which included assistance for those who wished to exit out. This effective approach to trafficking and exploitation is known as the "Nordic Model".
As with other forms of violence committed by men against women, prostitution is primarily a gender specific phenomenon, the overwhelming majority of victims are women and girls and the buyers are invariably men. If men did not regard it as their self-evident right to buy and sexually exploit women and children, prostitution and trafficking for sexual services would not exist. Poverty, inadequate education, homelessness, inequality and early childhood abuse are recurring themes in the personal histories of women and girls who are, or have been prostituted. Here in Boston, we found an over representation of women who reported to have "aged" out of The Department of Children and Families at 18 years of age with no viable skills and no place to live. "Aging out" refers to youth who come into the custody of the Department of Children and Families and grow up with the state as their parent. The foster care system has virtually become a supply chain for traffickers. For so many young women, the transition to adulthood is much more complex and we see a growing number of young women here in our community rendered vulnerable to exploitation and extreme violence.
Exploitation of women and girls in the commercial sex industry is both a cause and consequence of gender and other inequalities. The Nordic Model addresses these inequalities by promoting women's and girl's right to safety, and well being and by challenging men's perceived "right" to buy women's bodies. Buyers have money, stability, education and power; in marked contrast to the women and children they buy.