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Swedes have a reputation for being pro-sex. The Netherlands is the latest country to flirt with the Swedish model. In Sweden banned the purchase—but not the sale—of sex. A curious coalition of feminists and Christians backed the law.
They argued that it would wipe out prostitution by eliminating demand, and that this would be a good thing because all sex work is exploitative.
Anyone selling sex is a victim, even if she denies it. As for the men who pay for sex, they are predators who should be punished, campaigners believe. In the European Parliament urged EU members to adopt it. Spanish lawmakers are in the process of doing so. In America politicians in Maine and Massachusetts are calling for a similar approach. On July 3rd lawmakers in the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal and highly visible, are to start discussing such a law, as well as whether to ban pimps.
As in Sweden, the crusade is cheered on by feminists and Christians with stern moral views. Exxpose, a Dutch organisation led by evangelical students, has gathered 40, signatures on a petition to criminalise the buying of sex. Parliament is unlikely to agree, in such a liberal country, but the campaign is spreading and there will doubtless be more attempts.
Under current Dutch law, prostitution is regulated and taxed. About a quarter of municipalities refuse to issue any licences at all, and Amsterdam, the capital, has been trying to reduce the size of its red-light district, which locals complain attracts organised criminals and excessive drug use.