Nordic model: punishing clients to eradicate prostitution

The Apg23 delegation organizes a side event in Geneva to talk about trafficking in human beings

The 38th session of the Human Rights Council takes place in Geneva these days  and our office has promoted  various activities. On 22 June we organized a meeting in the UN building to create attention on the relationship between human trafficking and the prostitution market. We have tried to explain and discuss the so-called Nordic Model.

What is the Nordic model?

It is a model of national law that pursues the fight against prostitution and trafficking in human beings through the principle of punishment of the client who acquires a paid sexual service . The client, considered an accomplice and engine of the exploitation of the woman and of her enslavement, is punished with a fine or with another penalty while the woman who prostitutes herself is offered precurses of social reintegration that allow her to get out of prostitution.

The Nordic model, which provides for the punishment of the client requesting paid sexual services, was first introduced in Sweden in 1999 and recently also in France and Ireland .

Among the speakers of our event we invited Karin Bolin,   representative of the permanent mission of Sweden who explained how a law adopted almost 20 years ago has borne fruit in the country, introducing a culture of respect for women, reducing violence against women and eliminating trafficking in human beings.

Then came Francois Gave,  representative of the permanent mission of France that in 2016 adopted the same Nordic model and who explained how France as well as punishing the client, also provides programs for social reintegration of girls and women who want to abandon prostitution .

There was also the testimony of Katia Vitaggio, an operator of our street units that brought the voice of the Community and of Don Benzi, explaining how in Italy too, with the campaign "This is my body" , we are proposing this model of punishment of the client and then introduced the direct testimony of a Nigerian girl, welcomed in our homes, who told of the horror suffered, but also of the beauty of having another opportunity to rebuild a life and start again .

The event ended with the intervention of a representative of CAP International who outlined in an exemplary way the connection between the business that prostitution generates and the trafficking of human beings.

The brief debate that followed with the intervention of the delegates of some of the countries present (San Marino, New Zealand and Nigeria) gave us proof of the importance of spreading this model and of the need for a serious debate on the subject.

Pope Francis himself , in his homily at Santa Marta on Friday, June 15, 2018, reminded everyone - but above all Christians - how many women " despised, marginalized, exploited " still live next to us and as the " doctrine of Jesus on woman" change history " .

But the road is still long and efforts must be intensified at all levels to concretely promote the liberation of all the girls and women subjected to this terrible form of slavery.

Fabio Agostoni - Apg23 §Geneva office

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