They say a lie travels halfway around the world before the truth can even lace up its shoes. Right now, there’s a persistent one still circling around: “Legalizing prostitution is better for everyone involved — with government regulation, sex workers are safer, and sex trafficking becomes a thing of the past.”
And yet, if you take a look at the data, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The problem isn’t that the sentiment is wrong. We would be willing to do anything if it helped bring an end to sex trafficking. Rather, in countries that have fully legalized the sex trade, it has actually become worse.
There has been an explosion in instances of sex trafficking, and prostituted persons do not report feeling safer. They also do not feel comfortable reporting instances of abuse to authorities. The Equality Model seeks to rectify this by creating a new model that partially decriminalizes the sex trade.
What Is the Equality Model?
The Equality Model is a series of policy proposals that take the best intentions of the legalization concept and turns them into tangible results. Decriminalization could be a good thing. But only if we decriminalize the victims of the sex trade and not the traffickers.
Working in this vein, the Equality Model depends on the execution of three distinct policies:
- The decriminalization of being prostituted and trafficked
- The continuation of laws that hold sex buyers, traffickers, and pimps or brothel owners accountable — keeping the exploitative side of the trade illegal
- The establishment of systems of support for victims of sex trafficking and the sex trade as well as education programs to reduce demand
In other words, the Equality Model seeks to end mass punishment for victims and shift the blame to where it belongs. It does this not only through the justice system. It also uses education and support programs to teach young men about the harms of the sex trade. This not only reduces demand but also exposes the reality of the situation.
By applying the Equality Model adequately, we can begin to help victims and create a system where sex trafficking really will become a thing of the past.
How Can the Equality Model Help Arizona?
None of this is theoretical. The Equality Model has been applied in countries around the world to resounding success. So when we discuss how it could work in Arizona, we’re not merely hypothesizing. We know it works.
For example, the Equality Model was first implemented in Sweden in 1999. That was over 20 years ago! And that means over 20 years of data has been collected. So what did we find out? Sweden has seen a 50% decrease in street prostitution. Not to mention: A mere two years after the law had passed, Sweden saw a massive decline in the number of men who were buying sex. In Norway, there was a 50% decline five years after they adopted the model.
By contrast, Sweden and Norway’s neighbors to the south who legalized prostitution saw a major increase in sex trafficking. This shouldn’t be surprising.
In Germany, for example, one million men buy sex every day. In Berlin, there are over 500 brothels and 150,000 people involved in prostitution. Such high demand is fuel for human sex trafficking. Where’s there demand to buy sex, there’s going to be demand to buy humans.
The solution is not to criminalize the victims. Women who are forced into sex trafficking are not criminals — the real blame lies with traffickers. The Equality Model is a way to put blame where it belongs and help bring an end to one of the world’s most evil markets. If it can work in other countries around the world, it can work in Arizona, too.