Challenging demand for prostitution: international evidence review

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


Abel, G. (2014a) 'A Decade of Decriminalization: Sex Work "Down Under" but not Underground, Criminology & Criminal Justice: An International Journal, 14(5): 580-592

Abel, G. (2014b) 'Sex Workers' Utilisation of Health Services in a Decriminalised Environment', The New Zealand Medical Journal, 127(1390): 30-37

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L. & Brunton, C. (2007) The Impact of the Prostitution Reform Act on the Health and Safety Practices of Sex Workers [online]. Available at: (accessed 27 October 2021)

Abel, G. & Healy, C. (2021) 'Sex Worker-Led Provision of Services in New Zealand: Optimising Health and Safety in a Decriminalised Context'. In S. M. Goldernberg, R. Morgan Thomas, A. Forbes, S. Baral (eds.) Sex Work, Health and Human Rights: Global Inequalities, Challenges, and Opportunities for Action. Gewerbestrasse: Springer: 175-187

Abel, G. & Ludeke, M. (2021) 'Business Like Any Other? New Zealand's Brothel Industry Post-decriminalisation', Culture, Health & Sexuality: 1-14

Altink, S., Van Liempt, I. & Wijers M. (2018) 'The Netherlands'. In Økland Jahnsen, S. & Wagenaar, H. (eds.) Assessing Prostitution Policies in Europe. Abingdon: Routledge: 62-76

Amnesty International (2016) The Human Cost of 'Crushing' the Market:

Criminalization of Sex Work in Norway [online]. Available at: (accessed 14 January 2020)

Amnesty International (2022) We Live within a Violent System: Structural Violence against Sex Workers in Ireland [online]. Available at: (accessed 4 February 2022)

Armstrong, L. (2016) "Who's the Slut, Who's the Whore?", Feminist Criminology, 11(3): 285-303

Armstrong, L. (2017a) 'Decriminalisation and the Rights of Migrant Sex Workers in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Making a Case for Change', Women's Studies Journal, 31(2): 69-76

Armstrong L. (2017b) 'From Law Enforcement to Protection? Interactions between Sex Workers and Police in a Decriminalized Street-Based Sex Industry', Bristol Journal of Criminology, 57(3): 570-588

Armstrong, L. (2018) 'Stigma, Decriminalisation, and Violence against Street-based Sex Workers: Changing the Narrative', Sexualities 22(7): 1288-1308

Berry A. & Frazer P. (2021) 'How Sex Workers Understand Their Experiences of Working in the Republic of Ireland', Sex Res Social Policy: 1-16

Bisschop, P., Kastoryano, S. & van der Klaauw, B. (2017) 'Street Prostitution and Crime', American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 9 (4): 28-63

Breslin, R. (2020) Exploitation 'as usual': Emerging Evidence on the Impact of Covid-19 on Ireland's Sex Trade [online]. Available at: (accessed 23 February 2022)

Breslin, R., Latham, L. & O'Connor, M. (2021) Confronting the Harm: Documenting the Prostitution Experiences and Impacts on Health and Wellbeing of Women Accessing the Health Service Executive Women's Health Service [online]. Available at: (accessed 12 November 2021)

Brunovskis A, & Skilbrei, M. (2018) 'Individual or Structural Inequality? Access and Barriers in Welfare Services for Women Who Sell Sex', Social Inclusion, 6(3): 310-318

Campbell, R. Smith, L., Leacy, B., Ryan, M. & Stoica, B. (2020) 'Not Collateral Damage: Trends in Violence and Hate Crimes Experienced by Sex Workers in the Republic of Ireland', Irish Journal of Sociology, 28(3): 280-313

Coy, M., Smiley, C. & Tyler, M. (2019) 'Challenging the "Prostitution Problem": Dissenting Voices, Sex Buyers, and the Myth of Neutrality in Prostitution Research', Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(7): 1931-1935

Daalder, A. L. (2007) Prostitution in the Netherlands since the Lifting of the Brothel Ban [online]. Available at: (accessed 11 January 2022)

Darley, M., David, M., Guienne, V., Mainsant, G. & Mathieu, L. (2018). 'France' in Økland Jahnsen, S. & Wagenaar, H. Assessing Prostitution Policies in Europe. Abingdon: Routledge: 92-106

Department of Health, Safety and Public Policy (2015) Leaving Prostitution: a Strategy for Help and Support' [online]. Available at: (accessed 10 November 2021)

Drückler, S., Van Rooijen, M. S., & De Vries, H. J. C. (2020) 'Substance Use and Sexual Risk Behavior among Male and Transgender Women Sex Workers at the Prostitution Outreach Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands', Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 47(2): 114-121

Ekberg, G. (2004) 'The Swedish Law that Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services: Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings', Violence Against Women, 10(10)L: 1187-1218

Ellison, G., Ní Dhónnaill, C. & Early, E. (2019) A Review of the Criminalisation of Paying for Sexual Services in Northern Ireland [online]. Available at: (accessed 10 November 2021)

Erikson, J (2019) 'Institutions, Gendered Perceptions, and Frames of Meaning: Explaining Strategic Choices of Women MPs in Swedish Prostitution Policy', Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 40(2): 263-285

Erikson, J. & Larsson, O. L. (2019) 'Beyond Client Criminalization: Analysing Collaborative Governance Arrangements for Combatting Prostitution and Trafficking in Sweden', Regulation and Governance: 1-18

European Commission (2016) Study on the Gender Dimension of Trafficking in Human Beings. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Farley, M. (2009). 'Theory versus Reality: Commentary on Four Articles about Trafficking for Prostitution', Women's Studies International Forum, 32: 311-315

Fedorkó, B., Stevenson, L. & Macioti, P. G. (2021) 'Sex Workers on the Frontline: An Abridged Version of the Original ICRSE Report: 'The Role of Sex Worker Rights Groups in Providing Support During the COVID-19 Crisis in Europe'', Global Public Health: 1-10

Fredlund C, Dahlström Ö, Svedin C.G., Wadsby M., Jonsson L.S. & Priebe G. (2018) 'Adolescents' Motives for Selling Sex in a Welfare State: A Swedish National Study', International Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect, 81: 286-295

Gaudy, T. & Le Bail, H. (2020) Comparative Summary of Evaluation Reports on France's 2016 Prostitution Act [online]. Available at: (accessed 2 November 2021)

GRETA (2017) Report Concerning the Implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Norway [online]. Available at:,COEGRETA,,NOR,596749094,0.html (accessed 14 December 2021)

GRETA (2018) Report Concerning the Implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Sweden [online]. Available at: (accessed 14 December 2021)

Grönvall Y, Holmström C, & Plantin L. (2021) 'Doing Trust Work: The Purchase of Sex in a Swedish Context, Sexualities, 24(4): 654-672

Healy C, Wi-Hongi A., Hati, C. (2017) 'Reflection from the Field: It's work, it's working: The integration of sex workers and sex work in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Women's Studies Journal, 31(2): 50-60

Hedlin S. (2017) 'Can Prostitution Law Reform Curb Sex Trafficking? Theory and Evidence on Scale, Substitution, and Replacement Effects', University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, 50(2): 329-386

Huisman, W. & Kleemans, E. R. (2014) 'The Challenges of Fighting Sex Trafficking in the Legalized Prostitution Market of the Netherlands', Crime Law and Social Change, 61: 215-228

Huschke, S. & Schubotz, D. (2016) 'Commercial Sex, Clients, and Christian Morals: Paying for Sex in Ireland', Sexualities, 19(7): 869-887

Huschke, S. & Ward, E. (2017) 'Stopping the Traffick? The Problem of Evidence and Legislating for the 'Swedish Model' in Northern Ireland', Anti-Trafficking Review, 8: 16-33

Jahnsen, S. & Skilbrei, M. (2018a) 'Leaving No Stone Unturned: The Borders and Orders of Transnational Prostitution', British Journal of Criminology, 58(2): 255-272

Jahnsen S. & Skilbrei, M. (2018b) 'Norway'. In Økland Jahnsen, S. & Wagenaar, H. (eds.) Assessing Prostitution Policies in Europe. Abingdon: Routledge: 185-198

Jonsson S. & Jakobsson N. (2017) 'Is Buying Sex Morally Wrong? Comparing Attitudes Toward Prostitution Using Individual-level Data Across Eight Western European Countries', Women's Studies International Forum, 61: 58-69

IPSOS (2019) Les Français et La Prostitution [online]. Available at: (accessed 29 October 2021)

Kingston, S. & Thomas, T. (2019) 'No Model in Practice: a 'Nordic Model' to Respond to Prostitution?', Crime Law and Social Change, 71: 423–439

Krumrei-Mancuso E. (2017). 'Sex Work and Mental Health: A Study of Women in the Netherlands', Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(6): 1843-1856

Kuosmanen, J. & de Cabo, A. (2018) 'Men Selling Sex to Men in Sweden: Balancing Safety and Risk', Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(5-6): NP2601-NP2623

Laverack G, & Whipple A. (2010) 'The Sirens' Song of Empowerment: A Case Study of Health Promotion and the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, Global Health Promotion, 17(1): 33-38

Le Bail, H., Giametta, C. & Rassouw, N. (2018) What Do Sex Workers Think About the French Prostitution Act? A Study of the Impact of the Law from 13 April 2016 Against the Prostitution System in France [online]. Available at: (accessed 2 November 2021)

Leek, J. & van Montfort, A. (2004) 'Convenient Local Policymaking for Inconvenient Issues? The Establishment of Brothels in the Netherlands', Society and Economy, 26: 431-447

Malloch, M., Robetson L & Forbes, E. (2017) Evidence Assessment of the Impacts of the Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex: A Review [online]. Available at: (accessed 25 October 2021)

McGarry, K. & Ryan, P. (2020) Sex Worker Lives Under the Law: A Community Engaged Study of Access to Health and Justice in Ireland. [online]. Available at: (accessed 19 January 2022)

McMenzie, L., Cook, I. R., & Laing, M. (2019) 'Criminological Policy Mobilities and Sex Work: Understanding the Movement of the "Swedish Model" to Northern Ireland', British Journal of Criminology, 59(5): 1199-1216

Mujaj, E. & Netscher, A. (2015) Prostitution in Sweden 2014: The Extent and Development of Prostitution in Sweden [online]. Available at: (accessed January 25 2022)

National Women's Council of Ireland (2020) Review of Part IV of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 [online]. Available at: (accessed 10 November 2021)

New Zealand Government (2008) Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, Wellington: Ministry of Justice.

Nugent C. (2019) 'Dimming the Lights', TIME Magazine, 194(21): 48-51

O'Connor, M. & Breslin, R. (2020) Shifting the Burden of Criminality: An Analysis of the Irish Sex Trade in the Context of Prostitution Law Reform [online] Available at: (accessed 1 December 2021)

Olsson N. (2021) 'The Implementation of Sweden's Prostitution Law at the Local Level', Journal of Social Work, 21(3): 353-373

OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (2021) Discouraging the Demand that Fosters Trafficking for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation [online]. Available at: (accessed 7 January 2022)

Östergren, P. (2018) 'Sweden' in Økland Jahnsen, S. & Wagenaar, H (eds.) Assessing Prostitution Policies in Europe. Abingdon: Routledge: 169-184

Outshoorn, J. (2012) 'Policy Change in Prostitution in the Netherlands: from Legalization to Strict Control', Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 9: 233-243

Pérez-y-Pérez M. (2016) 'Mapping the Health and Safety of Female Sex Workers after the Prostitution Reform Act (2003): Human Services Perspectives and Responses'. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social & Community Studies, 11(4): 29-45

Perrotta Berlin, M., Immordino, G., Russo, F. F. & Spagnolo, G. (2020) 'Prostitution and Violence: Evidence from Sweden', SITE Working Paper Series 52: Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics.

Pitt, T. & Johnson, H. (2021) An Evidence-based Review of the Decriminalisation of Prostitution in New Zealand [online]. Available at: (Accessed: 8 December 2021)

Platt, L., Grenfell, P., Meiksin, R., Elmes, J., Sherman, S. G., Sanders, T., Mwangi, P. & Crago, A. (2018) 'Associations between Sex Work Laws and Sex Workers' Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Quantitative and Qualitative Studies, PLoS Med, 15(12)

Post, C., Brouwer J.G. & Vols, M. (2019) 'Regulation of Prostitution in the Netherlands: Liberal Dream or Growing Repression?' European Journal on Criminal Policy & Research, 25(2): 99-118

PROUD & Aidsfonds - Soa Aids Nederland (2018) Sex Work, Stigma and Violence in the Netherlands [online]. Available at: (accessed: 1 March 2022)

Radačić I. (2017) 'New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective—An Example of a Successful Policy Actor', Social Sciences, 6(2), 46

Ratcovich M. (2019) 'Extraterritorial Criminalisation and Non-intervention: Sweden's Criminal Measures against the Purchase of Sex Abroad', Nordic Journal of International Law, 88(3): 398-428

Raymond, J. G. (2018) 'Gatekeeping Decrminalization of Prostitution: The Ubiquitous Influence of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective', Dignity: A Journal of Exploitation and Violence, 3(2)

Renland, A., Kock, I. & Bjørndahl, U. (2020) The Exclusion of Persons who Sell Sexual Services in the Handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic [online]. Available at: (accessed 3 November 2021)

Ryan, P. & Huschke, S. (2017) 'Conducting Sex Work Research in a Politically Contentious Climate: Lessons from Ireland'. In A. King, A. C. Santos & I. Crowhurst (eds.) Sexualities Research. New York: Routledge

Ryan, P. & McGarry, K. (2021) '"I miss being honest": Sex Workers' Accounts of Silence and Disclosure with Health Care Providers in Ireland', Culture, Health & Sexuality.

Ryan, P. & Ward, E. (2018) 'Ireland' in Økland Jahnsen, S. & Wagenaar, H. (eds.) Assessing Prostitution Policies in Europe. Abingdon: Routledge: 47-61

Schmidt J. (2017) 'The Regulation of Sex Work in Aotearoa/New Zealand: An Overview'. Women's Studies Journal 31(2): 35-49

Scottish Government (2017) Exploring Available Knowledge and Evidence on Prostitution in Scotland via Practitioner-based Interviews [online]. Available at: (accessed 19 October 2021)

Seals, M. (2015) 'Worker Rights and Health Protection for Prostitutes: A Comparison of the Netherlands, Germany and Nevada', Health Care for Women International, 36: 784-796

Shannon, G. (2020) 'The Implementation of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, Part IV: An Interim Review' [online]. Available at: (accessed 15 November 2021)

Shaver, F. M. (2019) '"The Prostitution Problem": Why Isn't Evidence Used to Inform Policy Initiatives?' Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48: 1955-1959

Skilbrei, M. L. (2012) 'The Development of Norwegian Prostitution Policies: A Marriage of Convenience between Pragmatism and Principles', Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 9(3): 244-257

SOU (2010) Evaluation of the Prohibition of the Purchase of Sexual Services English Summary [online]. Available at: (accessed 20 December 2022)

Staring, R. H. J. M. (2012) 'Human Trafficking in the Netherlands: Trends and Recent Developments, International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 26(1): 59-72

St. Denny, E. (2020) 'The Gender Equality Potential of New Anti-Prostitution Policy: A Critical Juncture for Concrete Reform', French Politics, 18(1/2): 153-174

SWAI (2019) I Feel Targeted and I Can't Feel Safe: Peer Research of Sex Workers and the Law [online]. Available at: (accessed 19 January 2022)

Swanson, J. (2016) 'Sexual Liberation Or Violence Against Women? The Debate on the Legalization of Prostitution and the Relationship to Human Trafficking', New Criminal Law Review: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, 19(4): 592-639

Sweeney L., Taylor L. & Molcho M. (2020) 'Sex Workers Access to Health and Social Care Services: A Social Justice Response', Irish Journal of Sociology, 28(3): 333-348

Théry, G. & Legardinier, C. (2017) 'The French Law of April 13 2016 Aimed at Strengthening the Fight against the Prostitutional System and Providing Support for Prostituted Persons: Principles, Goals, Measures and Adoption of a Historic Law' [online]. Available at: (accessed 5 November 2021)

Thorburn N. (2017) 'Practitioner Knowledge and Responsiveness to Victims of Sex Trafficking in Aotearoa/New Zealand', Women's Studies Journal; 31(2): 77-96

Tokar, A., Osborne, J., Hengeveld, R., Lazarus, J. V. & Broerse, J. E. W. (2020) 'I don't want anyone to know': Experiences of obtaining access to HIV testing by Eastern European, non-European Union Sex Workers in Amsterdam, the Netherlands', PLoS ONE, 15(7): 1-23

Vanwesenbeeck, I. (2011) '"Sex Workers' Rights and Health: the Case of the Netherlands'. In R. L. Dalla, L. M. Baker, J. DeFrain, & C. Williamson (eds.) Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: Europe, Latin America, North America, and Global. Landham, MD: Lexington Books: 3-25

Van Wijk, E. & Mascini, P. (2019) 'The Responsibilization of Entrepreneurs in Legalized Local Prostitution in the Netherlands', Regulation & Governance

Verhoeven M. (2017) 'Sex Work Realities Versus Government Policies: Meanings of Anti-trafficking Initiatives for Sex Workers in the Netherlands', Sex Res Soc Policy, 14: 370-379

Verhoeven M, & van Gestel B. (2017) 'Between Visibility and Invisibility: Sex Workers and Informal Services in Amsterdam', Feminist Economics, 23(3): 110-133

Verscheijden, M. M. A., Woestenberg, P. J., Götz, H. M., van Veen, M. G., Koedijk, F. D. H. & van Betham, B. H. B. (2015) 'Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Female Sex Workers Tested at STI Clinics in the Netherlands, 2006-2013', Emerging Themes in Epidemiology, 12 [online]. Available at: (accessed 17 March 2022)

Vuolajärvi N. (2019) 'Governing in the Name of Caring: the Nordic Model of Prostitution and its Punitive Consequences for Migrants Who Sell Sex'. Sexuality Research & Social Policy: Journal of NSRC, 16(2): 151-165

Wagenaar, H. (2017) 'Why Prostitution Policy (Usually) Fails and What to Do about It?', Social Sciences, 43: 1-15

Wagenaar, H. (2018) 'Policy as Practice: Explaining Persistent Patterns in Prostitution Policy', The Howard Journal, 57(3): 379-400

Wagenaar, H. Altink, S. & Amesberger, H. (2013) Final Report of the International Comparative Study of Prostitution Policy: Austrian and the Netherlands [online]. Available at: (accessed 17 March 2022)

Wahab S & Abel G. (2016) 'The Prostitution Reform Act (2003) and Social Work in Aotearoa/New Zealand'. Affilia: Journal of Women & Social Work 2016 31(4): 418-433

Wouter, J., Denters B, Need A, & van Gerven M. (2017) 'Lifting the Ban on Dutch Brothels: Do Local Social Needs and Local Political Demands Matter for Municipal Prostitution Policies?' Policy & Politics, 45(3): 449-466

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