Sweden’s Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn’t Anyone Tried This Before?

In a centuries deep sea of clichés despairing that ‘prostitution will always be with us’, one country’s success stands out as a solitary beacon lighting the way. In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution. In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80%. There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution has all but disappeared. Gone too, for the most part, are the renowned Swedish brothels and massage parlors which proliferated during Sweden's Prostitution Solution:  Why Hasn't Anyone Tried  This Before?the last three decades of the twentieth century when prostitution in Sweden was legal.

In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex is nil. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that’s negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex trafficked into neighboring Finland. No other country, nor any other social experiment, has come anywhere near Sweden’s promising results.

By what complex formula has Sweden managed this feat? Amazingly, Sweden’s strategy isn’t complex at all. It’s tenets, in fact, seem so simple and so firmly anchored in common sense as to immediately spark the question, “Why hasn’t anyone tried this before?”

Sweden’s Groundbreaking 1999 Legislation

In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminalizes the selling of sex. The novel rationale behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government’s literature on the law:

In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”

In addition to the two pronged legal strategy, a third and essential element of Sweden’s prostitution legislation provides for ample and comprehensive social service funds aimed at helping any prostitute who wants to get out, and additional funds to educate the public. As such, Sweden’s unique strategy treats prostitution as a form of violence against women in which the men who exploit by buying sex are criminalized, the mostly female prostitutes are treated as victims who need help, and the public is educated in order to counteract the historical male bias that has long stultified thinking on prostitution. To securely anchor their view in firm legal ground, Sweden’s prostitution legislation was passed as part and parcel of the country’s 1999 omnibus violence against women legislation.

An Early Obstacle in the Path

Interestingly, despite the country’s extensive planning prior to passing the legislation, the first couple years into this novel project nothing much happened at all. Police made very few arrests of johns and prostitution in Sweden, which had previously been legalized, went on pretty much as it had gone on before. Naysayers the world over responded to the much publicized failure with raucous heckling, “See? Prostitution always has been, and it always will be.”

But eminently secure in the thinking behind their plan, the Swedes paid no heed. They quickly identified, then solved the problem. The hang-up, the place where their best efforts had snagged, was that law enforcement wasn’t doing it’s part. The police themselves, it was determined, needed in-depth training and orientation to what the Swedish public and legislature already understood profoundly. Prostitution is a form of male violence against women. The exploiter/buyers need to be punished, and the victim/prostitutes need to be helped. The Swedish government put up extensive funds and the country’s police and prosecutors, from the top ranks down to the officer on the beat, were given intensive training and a clear message that the country meant business. It was then that the country quickly began to see the unequaled results.

Today, not only do the Swedish people continue to overwhelming support their country’s approach to prostitution (80% of people in favor according to national opinion polls), but the country’s police and prosecutors have also come around to be among the legislation’s staunchest supporters. Sweden’s law enforcement has found that the prostitution legislation benefits them in dealing with all sex crimes, particularly in enabling them to virtually wipe out the organized crime element that plagues other countries where prostitution has been legalized or regulated.


Posted By F. Sheikh




“Am I the only around here ” By Carl Pierer

( Pigeonhole Principle )

This meme is taken from a scene in the Cohen brother’s 1998 comedy “The Big Lebowski”. During a game of bowling, Walter, in the picture, gets annoyed at the other characters constantly overstepping the line. Drawing a gun, he asks: “Am I the only around here who gives a shit about rules?”[ii]


Considering that there are roughly 7 billion people on earth, a positive answer seems highly unlikely. But it is possible to do better. We can know with certainty, i.e. prove, that the creator of the meme is not the only one. This is a simple and straightforward application of a fascinating, intuitive and yet powerful mathematical principle. It is usually called “pigeonhole principle” (for reasons to be explained below) or “Dirichlet’s principle”.

There exist many formulations of the Dirichlet’s principle, but a very simple one is the following: Suppose you have n holes (where n is a positive integer) and n+1 pigeons. Now, no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to fit all the pigeons into individual holes. There is at least one hole that contains two (or more). Similarly for hairs. The numbers vary of course, but an average blonde person is thought to have about 150’000 hairs on their head[v]. To be on the safe side, let us assume that the hairiest person on earth has 300’000 hairs. For ease of calculation, let us further assume that there are 7 billion people on earth. Then, at least two people will have the same number of hairs. Indeed, at least 23’333 people will do.

To demonstrate the truth of this rather obscure claim, suppose it is false; this means it is not the case that at least two people will have the same number of hairs. Say, we put the 7 billion people into a row, starting with the person of 0 hairs to our left and running up to the Guinness World Record Hairiest person of 300’000 hairs. So, person 1 has 0 hairs, person 2 has exactly one hair, etc., up to person 300’001, who holds the Guinness World Record. Now what about person 300’002? Remember she has to have 0,1,…,300’000 hairs (otherwise the World Record would be broken yet again!). But all those numbers of hairs are already taken by person 1 up to 300’001, so she necessarily has the same number of hairs as someone of them.

Of course, this is a rather silly application, but the principle can be generalised (in semi-mathematical terms): If you have two sets S and T, where S contains more elements than T, there is no way of assigning a single element in T to each element in S.

So far, we have only considered finite sets, but what happens if either S or T (or both) are infinite? The pigeonhole principle still applies, and has implicitly been put to use in some of G. Cantor’s (1845-1918) most beautiful proofs, notably in his diagonal argument.

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 Posted By F. Sheikh

The Veil: Submitted by Tahir Mahmood

Some thoughts on the Veil
Max Dashu

fully veiled Syrian womenMost people think of the veil solely in terms of Islam, but it is much older. It originated from ancient Indo-European cultures, such as the Hittites, Greeks, Romans and Persians. It was also practiced by the Assyrians. Veiling had class as well as gender implications; thus, the ancient Assyrian law required it of upper class women while punishing commoners for it. The strong association of veiling with class rank, as well as an urban/peasant split, persisted historically up until the last century. Then more privileged women began rejecting the veil, as did Egyptian feminist Huda Sharawi, while poor women increasingly adopted it as a ticket to upward mobility. (A similar dynamic occurred with footbinding in modern China.)

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USA Vs China & Cold War By F. Sheikh

President Obama will be visiting South Pacific Asian countries next week. The President is trying to pivot our foreign policy in Asia to build new economic and military alliances , from strengthening our relations with India to new ties with Vietnam and even re-activating military bases in Australia and Philippine. Are we encircling China as a precaution in case of military conflict? Or are we wooing china to start a Cold War and follow the same script as we did with Soviet Union that bankrupted it?

China and USA has a different mindset, and not just in its form of Government, but how to proceed in international affairs. China does not have any ambition of spreading its ideology and does not want to interfere in any other country’s internal or external affairs. It establishes its relations with foreign countries on stand-alone basis. It does not have any expansion designs except quarrels for the disputed territories with its neighbors. China is establishing relations with democratic as well as oppressive regimes in search for natural resources and does not want to pass judgment on their method of governance. Its relations are mostly limited to economic ties and do not come with political strings attached. Despite international pressure, China does not want to become a major stakeholder in international conflict solving endeavors, including international humanitarian crisis.

By contrast an American relation with a foreign country is a wholesome game. We get involve in foreign country’s internal and external affairs both directly and indirectly. Our economic as well as military alliances come with ideological and political strings attached, which are dependent on our own internal politics. Once involved in other country’s affairs, our main goal becomes our own national interest and mutual interest takes a back seat. We get involved in international conflicts with good intentions, because we want to spread our ideals and want to be world leader, but again our national interests take precedent over the interests of the countries involved and the outcome is not always in the best interests of the countries involved. However we are exceptional in organizing and helping in international natural disasters and humanitarian crisis.

During the cold war with Soviet Union, we were competing with Soviet Union on same terms-arms race as well as busy in spreading competing ideologies and sphere of influence. Russia was supporting many communist countries both militarily as well as economically and ultimately went bankrupt both ideologically as well as economically and that lead to disintegration of Soviet Union. USA was economically strong and able to afford the cost of this cold war.

China is a different breed with different mindset and most likely will not take this bait, because historically China is neither interested in expansionism nor spreading of any ideology. China will continue to arm itself to leave no doubt that any ill designs on China’s sovereignty will be ill affordable. Despite territorial disputes with neighbors, China’s main focus is economy and trade with its neighboring countries. Today Vietnam’s main trading partner is China and trade is increasing 20 % per year. In 2013 it rose to $ 60 billion. China will not follow the course of old Soviet Union.

There is an inherent danger of misunderstandings in developing our military ties with countries surrounding China. These countries counting on American help, may start a war with China over territorial dispute, and that can lead to a bigger war which neither country can afford. We are already involved in many military conflicts and our resources are stretched. We encircled Russia with NATO alliances and have taken economic as well as military load of many of these corrupt and economically basket countries. We are doing some of the things which made Soviet Union bankrupt. China has not and most likely will not play the same game. It will be a mistake to view our relations with China with the same old mindset of Cold War with Soviet Union and it may backfire. China is more focused on economic future than anything else, and that is where our focus should be.