Anti-prostitution law ‘seems to be working’

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A new evaluation of Norway’s controversial anti-prostitution law indicates that prostitution in the country has declined by as much as 25 percent since it went into effect in 2009. Several researchers and politicians remain skeptical about the results of the evaluation, though, including the political party now in control of the Justice Ministry that commissioned it.

Analysis firm Vista Analyse AS reported that it evaluated the law, which prohibits the purchase of sexual services but not their sale, through a series of surveys and interviews between January and June. The firm concluded that the ban on buying sex in Norway “dampens demand and therefore contributes to reduce the scope of prostitution in Norway.”

Vista’s researchers also claim that the law makes Norway “less attractive” for organized prostitution rings to operate in the country and therefore reduces the potential for human trafficking tied to prostitution. “The economic basis for working in prostitution in Norway has become worse,” according to Vista Analyse’s report delivered to the justice ministry on Monday.

The conservative Progress Party, which now has political control of the ministry, nonetheless has announced that it won’t change its party platform that calls for repeal of the anti-prostitution law. The Liberal Party (Venstre) was also skeptical, claiming that it continues to put a priority on the conditions under which prostitutes themselves work, since it’s still not illegal to sell sex. Others criticized Vista’s report for not having spent enough time questioning prostitutes themselves instead of their potential customers.

Others simply didn’t believe that prostitution has declined, suggesting it has moved indoors and off the streets. Vista’s Ingeborg Rasmussen defended the evaluation. “We have delivered a report that covers 200 pages,” she told newspaper Dagsavisen. “We stand for our conclusions, even though we would of course liked to have been able to go into more depth with our questions.”

newsinenglish.no staff