On Monday, a controversial new law that makes paying a prostitute for sex a crime punishable by prison or a fine took effect in Northern Ireland. Advocacy groups believe the law is a critical measure in curbing sex trafficking, but critics say it will force the sex industry into the shadows and result in an even greater risk of violence for women sex workers. Canada, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland have all introduced similar legislation that punishes the buyer of sex, but doesn’t criminalize those who have been forced into prostitution. The phenomenon is known as the “Nordic Model” and it stands in stark contrast to laws in countries like Germany, New Zealand and the Netherlands that have legalized or decriminalized prostitution. Officials say the new law “seeks to reduce demand for sexual services, which has been a major driver for human trafficking in Northern Ireland.”
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