Swedish Gender Equality for Trafficked Women? Radical Official Remedies and Ethnic Otherness


  • Asa Yttergren Umea University




Sweden, gender equality, prostitution, criminal law, alien law


The article provides an overview of the official Swedish attitude towards trafficking in persons for sexual purposes, places this view in an international context, and also critically analyzes problems that arise when the Swedish objective of establishing gender equality both nationally and internationally is confronted with the issue of women who have been trafficked to Sweden. The analysis covers the standpoint of the Swedish parliament expressed through legislation and other official documents regarding both criminal and migration law. It demonstrates that the Swedish position regarding trafficking is closely bound up with its understanding of prostitution which is conceptualized as an extreme expression of gender inequality. It moves beyond the polarized international positions of abolishing prostitution or normalizing it by addressing men’s demand for paid sex by the criminalization of the purchasing of sexual services, since demand for paid sex is regarded as the basis of both prostitution and trafficking. The main conclusion is that the aspiration for gender equality seems first to include Swedes in the Swedish context and secondly other ethnicities within their own native countries. In contrast, women trafficked to Sweden are constructed as “others” who do not fit into either of these categories. The emphasis in the context of women trafficked to Sweden is on combating transnational, organized crime, and in consequence gender equality is no longer a priority: the situation of these women perceived as non-Swedes or ethnically ‘other’ is therefore regarded as some other state’s problem.

Author Biography

Asa Yttergren, Umea University

Senior Lecturer in Law, Umea University, Sweden

How to Cite

Yttergren, A. (2012). Swedish Gender Equality for Trafficked Women? Radical Official Remedies and Ethnic Otherness. Feminists@law, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.22024/UniKent/03/fal.58



Gender Equality and Othering in the Swedish Welfare State