Many people have heard of the term ‘Nordic Model,’ but not everyone is clear on what this term means. Before we get into the definition of the Nordic Model, it’s important to define the four global legal responses to prostitution:
Criminalization: This is the most common global legal response to prostitution, and means all parties, both the client and the worker, are held legally liable.
Partial decriminalization: This includes countries that adopt the Nordic model , and means that only the side of the customer is held liable and criminalized.
Full decriminalization: Penalties on both the side of the customer and the worker are removed, but prostitution is still not regulated by the government.
Legalization: Penalties are removed and prostitution is regulated by the government.
One of the most common modes of partial decriminalization is the Nordic model, also called the Swedish model, the Equality model or the End Demand model. The Nordic model began in Sweden in 1999 and is now present in Sweden. Iceland, Norway, France, Ireland, and Canada.
According to the SWARM Collective, the Nordic model promises many things, including: Criminalizing the client, criminalizing third parties, like pimps, decriminalizes sex workers, provides funding for exit services. In reality, what the Nordic model or End Demand model does is make the market more competitive for sex workers which means less income for all, workers engage in more risky acts in order to make up for the lack of income, screening is more difficult as customers want to stay anonymous, and lastly support to transition out of the industry is often very poor, if non-existent.
HIV and the Nordic model: Another issue that partial criminalization poses is potential for increased risk of contracting HIV and STI’s, as customers are less cooperative with screening processes, and as sex workers feel increased financial pressure leading to riskier sexual behaviors.The reason for this, is due to the criminalization of prostitution, as many sex workers report not carrying condoms for fear they will be used as evidence.