The Equality Model

Why We Need it here in Massachusetts

Massachusetts needs a comprehensive and nuanced approach to prostitution. We need solutions that will protect survivors, increase access to opportunities for at risk populations, and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and exploitation. Massachusetts must not legalize or decriminalize the sex trade otherwise it will continue to push our most marginalized and vulnerable populations into a cycle of abuse, exploitation and poverty. Currently, 99% of prostituted people are women and girls, which includes mostly women of color, LGBTQ, and prior system involved youth and young adults.

Prostitution requires a mind-body split, requiring a dissociation in order to manage the often systematic cruelty that is experienced with the sex trade. It cannot be made safer, no matter what protections are put in place. Solutions to prostitution must be rooted in the understanding that sexual exploitation is harmful and a form of violence against our most vulnerable communities and incompatible with progressive values.

It’s time to make it clear that buying people for sex is unacceptable and to create criminal sanctions that discourage men from buying people. It’s not about criminalizing people, it’s about changing behavior. We know that decriminalizing prostitution means an increase of males purchasing access to vulnerable people, most often women and girls, and an increase of sex trafficking. Buyers are overwhelmingly white, male, and privileged – they do not need protection, but need to be held accountable for fueling the sex trade and the harm they cause.

The Equality Model, known as the Nordic Model, was first introduced in Sweden in 1999. It emerged within the context of a number of comprehensive measures to eliminate gender-based violence and to address gender inequality opposed to a criminal justice response. The law was not merely a punitive approach but to send a message that prostitution was not only harmful to the individual prostituted person but to society as a whole. Its achievement of the law was a political and cultural shift in the public perception that prostitution is not inevitable. We urge you to support this approach and create communities here in Massachusetts free from sexual exploitation.

Decriminalize prostituted people
Hold traffickers, exploiters, brothel and illicit massage parlor owners accountable.
Fund and ensure continuation of programs that provide access to viable options and protections for prostituted people.
Penalize the purchase of sex, prohibiting the purchase is the most effective measure states can do to eliminate trafficking and prostitution.
Education, prevention, public awareness and demand reduction efforts.

A growing global movement

Countries that have adopted The Equality Model:

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Listen to Survivors and join our movement in Massachusetts.