Challenging demand for prostitution: international evidence review

This rapid evidence review assesses and synthesises evidence on international approaches to challenging demand for prostitution.


1. A rapid evidence review or assessment is an approach to the search, evaluation and synthesis of evidence that follows a rigorous search and analysis methodology and usually takes between 3-6 months to complete. It is "more structured and rigorous […] than a literature review" but not "as exhaustive as a systematic review" which involves sourcing and analysing all resources on a specified topic and can take years to complete (Department for International Development). Rapid evidence assessments are frequently used in government to "gain an overview of the density and quality of evidence on a particular issue", "support programming decisions by providing evidence on key topics", and "support the commissioning of further research by identifying evidence gaps" (Department for International Development).

2. Grey literature refers to "information not produced by commercial publishers" (University of Leeds) e.g. government reports, working papers, policy statements.

3. New Zealand has a adopted a decriminalised approach, while the Netherlands has introduced a regulationist model.

4. New Zealand has adopted a "decriminalised" approach that treats prostitution as a form of legitimate work and subjects it to the same employment and legal rights as other forms of occupation. Brothel keeping is subject to certification and coerced prostitution remains illegal. In the case of the Netherlands, a "regulationist" model has been in place since 2000 which removed the ban on brothel keeping and legalises prostitution in licensed premises. Involuntary prostitution and prostitution of minors are illegal.

5. For analysis of the consultation see: Equally Safe: Challenging men's demand for prostitution: analysis of public consultation findings (

6. For examples of attempts to engage with these issues see: Coy et al. (2019), Ryan & Huschke (2017) and Shaver (2019).

7. Sweden, Norway, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and France.

8. E.g. Campbell et al. (2020); Post et al. (2019).

9. E.g. Platt et al. (2018).

10. E.g. Amnesty International (2016: 18) and Kingston & Thomas (2019). For discussion of some of the limitations of this term see Yttergren & Westerstrand (2016).

11. See page 18 of the 2017 international evidence assessment for further details on the 2014 European Parliament debate:

12. Variously translated to "Peace for Women" (Östergren 2018: 170), "Women's Refuge Act" (Vuolajärvi 2019: 153), or "Violence Against Women" (SOU 2010: 30).

13. Refer to the Ministry of Justice's description of the legislation available at:

14. The Swedish Criminal code can be found at:

15. Refer to the Ministry of Justice's description of the legislation available at:

16. Refer to the Ministry of Justice's description of the report available at:

17. Mikamottagningen:

18. The Swedish Gender Equality Agency:

19. The National Task Force against Prostitution and Trafficking:

20. For a useful overview of Swedish legislation and provisions see:

21. Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings website:

22. Find the 2017 evidence review at:


24. An English version of the report can be accessed at:

25. See also Malloch et al. 2017 evidence review for further details on the findings.

26. English translation of Chapter 6 of the Norwegian Penal Code:

27. For an overview see Pro-Sentret's website which provides an overview of the legislation:

28. Pro-sentret:

29. ROSA:

30. Full list of services can be found at:

31. See:

32. For Section 64A see:

33. See:

34. See section 19:

35. Leaving Prostitution Strategy:

36. Leaving Prostitution support website:

37. As reported by the BBC:

38. Review available at:

39. Data scraping or web scraping refers to a technique in which data or web information is extracted from a website. In this case it was used to analyse profiles on Adult Websites.

40. See:

41. Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015:

42. See:

43. Legislation can be found at:

44. As announced on:

45. GNPSB website:

46. As reported in the Irish Times:

47. HSE's WHS website:

48. Ruhama website:

49. SWAI website:

50. Consultation launch:

51. Loi visant à renforcer la lutte contre le système prostitutionnel et à accompagner les personnes prostituées

52. The bill was passed on the 6th April 2016, and the Act was promulgated on the 13th April 2016.

53. See: and Gaudy & Le Bail (2020: 6).

54. Loi pour la sécurité intérieure, 2003.

55. See:

56. See:

57. For full overview of the legislation see:

58. Translated in Le Bail, Giametta & Rassouw (2018: 19).

59. Translated in Le Bail et al. (2018: 19).

60. See:

61. For overview of the provisions in France see:

62. Mouvement du Nid website:

63. Evaluation in French:

64. Version in French can be accessed at:

65. See:

66. See page 6 of the report:

67. The review found that the number of reported crimes in Sweden related to purchase had increased from 94 in 1999 to 601 in 2014. The review also noted an increase in convictions from 11 in 1999 to 391 in 2013 (Malloch et al. 2017: 30-31).

68. A version in French is available at:

69. See Malloch et al. 2017.

70. See Chapter 6 for a more in depth discussion of difficulties in enforcement.

71. Recorded crime and legal proceedings statistics published on the PSNI and the PPSNI websites did not break down sexual offences into crime type, however, an FOI response published by PSNI in 2020, reported that between 1 June 2015 and 7 May 2020, a total of 36 people had been arrested for paying for sexual services and a total of five people had been charged. One person had received a caution in 2015 and three had received a caution in 2016. For further details refer to:

72. DMR North, DMR East, DMR South Central, Wexford, Louth and Kildare.

73. In February 2021, it was announced that new Garda unit has been set up which replaces Operation Quest. The new Organised Prostitution Unit aims to enforce all legislation related to purchase, brothels and violent attacks:

74. Committee tasked with implementing Section IV of the 2017 Act and includes members from An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive, SERP (Sexual Exploitation Research Programme, UCD), the Department of Justice and Equality (as observers), Ruhama, among others Men's Development Network, Survivor activist – Mia De Faoite, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Doras Lumní, the Children's Rights Alliance and Dr Geoffrey Shannon as Chair.

75. Suspects were identified leaving premises used for selling:

76. See:

77. Challenging demand legislation was introduced in 2017.

78. The NMT website:

79. See "Sweden" subsection in Chapter 4 for an overview of these government bodies.

80. Difference-in-differences is a quasi-experimental statistical method that is often used to capture the impact of policy interventions and possible causal effects.

81. The 2017 evidence assessment found a significant decrease in on-street prostitution in Sweden between 1995 and 2014, with an estimated 200-250 women involved in street prostitution in 2014 compared to an estimated 650 in 1995. In 2008 an estimated 300 women and 50 men were advertising online (Malloch et al. 2017: 21-22). In Norway, the research suggested a downward trend in prostitution since implementation (Malloch et al. 2017: 23).

82. Figures published by Ruhama in its 2021 report showed that the organisation had supported 369 women. See:

83. Name of the French legislation aimed at challenging demand. Outlined in Chapter 4.

84. Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and UK.

85. Available at:

86. Departmental Debate answer available at:

87. The Health Service Executive's Women's Health Service. See details under Republic of Ireland in Chapter 4.

88. Accessible at:

89. In 2010 it was estimated that 90% of those involved were foreign nationals (Darley et al. 2018: 90).


91. Included organisations from Austria, England, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and Switzerland.

92. A third party "reporting" and "alerting scheme" for "sex workers" in both the RoI and NI.

93. Escort Ireland, Vivastreet, Adultwork and Locanto.

94. As reported in:

95. See page 6 of the report:

96. NZPC Website:

97. For criticisms of these kinds of resources see Raymond (2018).

98. Figures cited in response to an Official Information Act request on the number of brothel inspections indicate that only 11 inspections had been made in the decade running up to 2015 (Pitt & Johnson 2021). See also Farley (2009).

99. For an overview of some of these debates see Nugent (2019); Guardian reports such as; BBC reports such as and the Dutch sex worker union's report (PROUD & Aidsfonds - Soa Aids Nederland 2018).

100. A hybrid self-employment package allowing sex workers in licensed premises to set their own hours, choose their attire, refuse clients and certain acts, ask for a receipt at any time and not hand over a percentage of their earnings for extra services to proprietors (Wagenaar et al. 2013).

101. Some research questions this, see: Wouter, Denters, Need, & van Gerven (2017).

102. See also Vanwesenbeeck (2011).

103. The Hague, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Arnhem, Groningen, Heerlen, Nijmegen and Eindhoven.



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