11/16/2013

Does legalizing prostitution change rape rates?: Some evidence from Sweden and Germany

From The Economist magazine:
HOW modern and liberated Germany’s Social Democrats and Greens sounded in 2001. They were in government and wanted to raise the legal and social status of prostitutes. So they enacted a law to remove the stigma from sex work by, for example, giving prostitutes full rights to health insurance, pensions and other benefits. “Exploiting” sex workers remained criminal, but merely employing them or providing them with a venue became legal. The idea was that responsible employers running safe and clean brothels would drive pimps out of the market. 
Germany thus embarked on an experiment in liberalisation just as Sweden, a country culturally similar in many ways, was going in the opposite direction. In 1999 the Swedes had made it criminal to pay for sex (pimping was already a crime). By stigmatising not the prostitutes but the men who paid them, even putting them in jail, the Swedes hoped to come close to eliminating prostitution. . . . 
Prostitution seems to have declined in Sweden (unless it has merely gone deep underground), whereas Germany has turned into a giant brothel and even a destination for European sex tourism. The best guess is that Germany has about 400,000 prostitutes catering to 1m men a day. Mocking the spirit of the 2001 law, exactly 44 of them, including four men, have registered for welfare benefits. . . .
This provides an interesting opportunity to test to see if making it easier or harder for prostitution impacts rape rates.  I have only spent a short amount of time on putting some data together, but the results depend on how crime is measured.  If it is measured in terms of crimes reported to police, crimes are falling in Germany after their change and rising in Sweden (though the data that I have is only available after 2003).

Regarding the Survey data, the results are much less clear, but seem to suggest no difference.  Obviously this is only very suggestive and very incomplete since the data for Germany leaves a large gap between 1985-1989 and the 2001 to 2005 period.  In addition, nothing else has been controlled for in examining these numbers.

 Rape Rate per 100,000 population - rates reported to police
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 
Germany
10.610.7  9.9  9.8  9.1  8.8  8.9 9.4 
 Sweden
25.025.241.946.351.859.063.863.5

Sexual Crime Incidents from the EU Crime Victimization Survey Table B2.2 (pp. 106-107)
Sweden in the five years before
1996 6.3
2000 7.5
2005 10.8 
Germany in the five years before
1989 7.9
2005 11.0 
The Economist had this interesting explanation for why the two countries made such different decisions.
Both the Swedish and the German laws originated in the feminist and left-leaning movements in these countries. But whereas progressive Swedes view their state as able to set positive goals, Germans (the Greens, especially) mistrust the state on questions of personal morality as a hypocritical and authoritarian threat to self-expression. . . . 

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2 Comments:

Blogger FZ said...

Prostitution does not lower rape rates, and if any "data" suggests otherwise it is either wrong or based on lies. The data from Germany and Sweden proves nothing, as not only is it incomplete and relies on how you define the of rape crime (and rapes happen a lot more than they are reported.) Besides, they could be any number of controlling factors for any differences in Sweden and Germany. And the supposed drop in Germany isn't all that great, especially since in the last year recorded rapes jump up significantly.


Allowing sexual crimes like prostitution (and it IS a crime where women are exploited and are victims of being used a sex objects for profit and for the selfish and soulless base physical gratification of puerile men, not some kind of personal morality decision or a "victimless crime") only feeds the depraved moral attitudes that lead to rape and violence against women.

This idea of 'safe and clean" brothels is a oxymoron. There is no such thing, one as 'safe and clean' brothels make more women more attracted to becoming a prostitute and the more people in it the more likely disease is spread around and second when you have so many people having sex you're going to get STD's and the like, not to mention more pregnancies which means more infants are murdered (abortion) no matter how 'clean' and 'safe' it is. The only safe sex is abstinence.

Truly, this attempt to justify the unjustifiable is beneath you, doctor.

11/16/2013 9:38 PM  
OpenID paulmurray said...

And from FZ, the usual hysteria. In the face of clear data shoeing that legal prostitution reduces the incidence of rape, the response of the neo-puritans is simply to define prostitution as rape.

An adult woman posts a commercial advertisement, takes calls, accepts a booking; the John comes to her place of business - possibly she works from home, pays her an aggred-upon sum of money; they engage in safe, legal, mutually consensual sexual intimacy for an hour (including intercourse), then the John says "thanks, Kandi, I have a great time" and leaves.

And this, apparently, is rape. Coercion. Violence, even.

Go get yourself a goddamn dictionary, FZ, and make it the same one that everyone else uses. It's only "rape" if you redefine your words beyond recognition.

Your other arguments barely deserve refuting. A prostitute in a place where it's legal, where sex workers are registered, is *less* likely to carry disease than the average person. Their livelihood depends on it. The statistics bear this out.

The argument that more people would do it if it were legal only carries weight if you have already decided that its a bad thing. Although clearly you have, a) it's only your opinion, and b) even if it is bad in itself, it tends to reduce the incidence of things that are worse.

The rest of your pearl-clutching ejaculations of horror and attempts to shame normal sexual behaviour can just be left as a fine display of baseless hysteria. Yes kids, this really is how the bluenoses think. Their positions aren't based on facts, or reason - they are based on sheer prejudice and (as often as not) unexamined ideas from the Bronze Age.

7/18/2014 10:19 AM  

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