Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 244–257 | Cite as

The Development of Norwegian Prostitution Policies: A Marriage of Convenience Between Pragmatism and Principles

  • May-Len SkilbreiEmail author


The article describes and analyzes debates on prostitution policies in Norway from 1970 until the introduction of a ban against the purchase of sexual services in 2009. Throughout these decades, it has varied whether prostitution as such, that is in principle, has been considered a problem and if so, whether it has been seen as predominantly a legal or a social problem. In some periods, only particular forms of prostitution have been considered problematic, while prostitution as such has not been considered in need of legal intervention. In other periods, prostitution per se has been considered the problem, and in these periods attempts to differentiate between different forms of prostitution have been resisted. The coming together of the pragmatic and principled concerns of various political actors was an important reason for the actual passing of the legal reform criminalizing the purchase of sexual services. The effective coming together of principled and practical concerns must be simultaneously understood in the context of other developments, both locally, nationally, and internationally.


Prostitution policy Gender Human trafficking Legislation Social work Media representations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fafo Institute for Applied International StudiesOsloNorway

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