Apsi Witana writes (Solidarity 572): "Economic pressure and a reduced client pool also increased a client’s bargaining power — it meant they were now able to haggle for cheaper prices and demand unsafe practices or acts which a worker may have felt the need to accept out of desperation."
Many prostitutes have to deal with this anyway. It sounds like what the Swedish model does is make the minority of high-class prostitutes who have chosen their line of work have to deal with what the vast majority of prostitutes who are already desperate have always had to deal with. Boo hoo. The countless women who are victimized by being coerced or steered this line of work because of misfortune shouldn't have to pay for the tiny minority's choice of preferred profession.
Not to mention, there will always be a call for cheap, unprotected sex, just the way the client likes it. This is the case with any commodity. Customers want to pay less and get more. There will always be prostitutes stuck at the bottom of this hierarchy, whose bodies end up being the "low quality" product. Legalising the entirety of sex work socially destigmatises men using other human's bodies in this way, and will increase the demand for all prostitution, while legitimising prostitution as a profession for (mostly) girls to enter. This will also create a greater reason to coerce girls into this line of work . Both the demand and the supply will go up, and pricing will become a competitive market for who can do the most, cheapest.
The Swedish model could definitely be tweaked, for example, to not push eviction onto prostitutes and to better guard against police harassment, but that doesn't mean throwing out the whole caboodle is the right answer.
And this is a crappy analogy: "Similar punitive approaches have backfired in the 'war on drugs' and in the huge human cost of criminalising abortion."
"The War on Drugs" heavily penalised, with extensive jail time, the victims of drug use - those with addictions. Doing drugs was illegal, having drugs on you was illegal, and selling drugs was illegal. Comparing johns to drug purchasers is inaccurate. Drug users/addicts are often victims of society - chemically dependent, emotionally troubled, stuck in the lower castes of society and unable to dig themselves out of the situation they're in.
Are we really going to label Johns (especially those paying for high-priced prostitutes (as we're hoping all prostitutes will be paid well) as "victims of society?" Prostitutes on the other hand, often are victims. They also frequently use and are addicted to drugs. If you want to compare drug purchasers/users to prostitutes, sure, but then The War on Drugs analogy makes no sense, since the Swedish Model decriminalises the victim of society - the prostitute.
The abortion analogy is inaccurate for similar reasons. Women having abortions in secret were often the victims of their circumstance. Again - Johns aren't victims.
New Zealand's model hasn't lowered levels of prostitution. The Swedish model has. And there are controversies as to whether NZ's less than great results are even accurate. Things could be worse than reported. Underage prostitution is technically legal, and therefore able to be taken advantage of. There's unforeseen complications, such as in Manukau.
There's no perfect solution, but full legalisation isn't anywhere close to it.
Amy, I think you've misinterpreted a lot here. What I've written does not pertain to protecting clients in any way - their treatment is inconsequential in the fight for sex workers' rights, and calls for decriminalisation (note - decriminalisation, not legalisation) should not be focused on them. I agree with you, clients are not victims, nor should they ever be treated as such. Our concerns lie with the knock-on effects of criminalising them, namely violence towards sex workers at the hands of dangerous clients and police.
Your point about "high-class prostitutes" is sadly the complete opposite of the reality of this law in practice - the few sex workers who support the Nordic model are the "high-class" workers you speak of who are able to charge far more by creating a niche in an underground market; it is the most marginalised workers who suffer the most under any form of criminalisation. Those who are coerced or pressured into sex work because of financial struggles are criminalised by proxy, fined and charged for brothel-keeping when simply working together for safety and migrant workers face deportation when their working flats are raided.
• This exchange is also posted here.