The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Prostitution: the U.S. should adopt the Nordic model to reduce harm for sex workers.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/12/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,418 times Debate No: 30187
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




The U.S. should adopt the Nordic model with regards to prostitution. The Nordic models decriminalizes the selling of sex, but makes it illegal to buy sexual services.
How does this solve problems?
In most cases the seller is the agent with less power, the seller is making a choice from a more desperate position, and has less options. Conversely, the buyer is usually the agent with more power, having the financial freedom to buy the services of another human being.
Because of this power differential the chance for exploitation and violence against the seller is great - while the buyer is often held less responsible. The Nordic model attempts to reverse this inequality.

First round is for acceptance - contender may state thesis, but argumentation should begin in the second round, rebuttals in the third, and closing statements in the fourth. No new arguments in the final round.

I am interested in debating this topic because I am personally intrigued by the Nordic model, but also curious to hear opposing viewpoints. I would like to thank the contender in advance for agreeing to engage me on this subject, and to complete all four rounds of the debate.


I have read up about it and I definitely oppose it.

I accept.

Consensual sex of any nature should be permitted.
Debate Round No. 1


Consent is an act of reason and deliberation. A person who possesses and exercises sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent decision demonstrates consent by performing an act recommended by another. Consent assumes a physical power to act and a reflective, determined, and unencumbered exertion of these powers. Consent 2: In the context of rape, submission due to apprehension or terror is not real consent. There must be a choice between resistance and acquiescence.
Agency: The condition of being in action; operation. The means or mode of acting; instrumentality.
Prostitution: The practice or occupation of engaging in sex with someone for payment.
Sex Trafficking:the recruitment, transportation, or kidnapping of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, fraud, deception, abuse of power, position, vulnerability, or the giving or receiving of payments to achieve control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

1. Prostitution does not qualify as consensual sex if the seller's agency is compromised. If their consent is coerced by either an actual third party, or by economic hardship, then the choice to sell their bodies or allow someone else to do so, is made under duress. The consent of a desperate person is not consent freely given, it is encumbered by the force of economic need. I will assert that most people who sell their bodies do so because they perceive it to be their only, or best option - not because sex trade is their ideal career choice. There are a few highly paid escorts who enjoy their work and do quite well, but those women are the minority. The majority of working girls might have done something else given another set of circumstance. Although, it may appear to many people that prostitutes are working by choice, the most compelling statistics are these, reprinted from the same link:

"There are many reasons that women do not or cannot leave prostitution. Ninety-two percent of women who were involved in prostitution said they wanted to leave prostitution, but couldn't because they lack basic human services such as a home, job training, health care, counseling and treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.* A prostituted woman might also be afraid of what her pimp will do to her and afraid for her life if she tries to leave. For many women, prostitution and sexual exploitation might be the only life they know. The average age for girls entering prostitution is between 12-13.** And studies show that 75 to 95% of all prostitutes were sexually abused as children.*** " (from

More statistics: 75% started working as children, 74% cite poverty as their main motivation to sell themselves, 95% are addicts of one kind or another, and a global study shows that 9 out of 10 would exit the profession if they could. This is not an occupational choice as much as it is an inevitable means of existence for people who lack alternatives.

2. Legalization and Trafficking: In any given population of sex workers, a certain percentage will be trafficked. The legalization of prostitution does not reduce the number of trafficked persons. An extensive research project was done at the German Institute for Economic Research, tells us more.;
This study was exhaustive, accounting for 150 countries worldwide, but for deeper analysis they focused on 31 European countries that were previously studied. These countries are particularly interesting because they are progressive, westernized, and fairly affluent nations. Using this older data and making comparisons with their own, what Cho and company found is that legalizing prostitution increases the amount of prostitution overall. This means that although the ratio of trafficked women may stay the same, as overall numbers grow, so do the number of enslaved workers. The replacement effect, whereby locals take up the work willingly accounts for a slight reduction, but even in countries with a good rule of law, like Germany, legalization increased sex trafficking by between 5-10% (Cho 75). There are various reasons for this, consider that enslaved workers are far more lucrative for pimps and traffickers than empowered women, who can leave. Trafficked women may be minors, or foreigners that can draw a greater price, are more vulnerable, easier to control, and manipulate.

Sex trafficking is perhaps the most egregious of human tortures, the enslavement of women and children for sexual exploitation at the hands of predators is a fate that, if not worse than death, often leads to death. The commodification of a human being into a product - to be literally fucked to death, is one of the greatest shames of our species. "Letter from the Balkans: A Horror Story"

The Cho study looked at sex trafficking stats in Germany from 1996-97, and they saw a slight decline. Checking in again after 2002 when prostitution was fully legalized in Germany, the number increased from a maximum of 19,740 in 1997, to a max of 24,700 in 2003. In 2004, the official estimate was that approximately 32,800 trafficked sex workers were operating within the country’s borders. The stats from the Cho study are consistent with the results of the older study indicating a positive correlation between the legal status of prostitution and inward sex trafficking. Comparing Germany to Sweden, Germany has 62 times more trafficked sex workers than Sweden (Cho 75.) Even though trafficked women are not the majority of prostitutes, they constitute a large enough number of the population (15-17%) to bring the entire enterprise into question (Cho 75). If our goal is harm reduction, and legal prostitution has a direct correlation to human trafficking, then it becomes very hard to justify its existence.

3. What is good about the Nordic model? The Nordic model shows actual harm-reduction, which cannot be offhandedly discounted. The rate of trafficked workers dramatically declines, because the overall amount of sex trade declines. At the same time, selling of sex is decriminalized, so that laws do not further victimize persons who choose to sell themselves. Without fear they may seek assistance from the police if they feel coerced, or abused in any way. Sellers hold all the rights to determine the conditions upon which they engage in sex trade with their bodies. In Sweden, street prostitution has reduced by half, and the number of male buyers went down from 13.6% to 7.9%.

In 1999, Sweden criminalized the buying of sex, although the selling of sex is still legal. Finland introduced a partial ban on selling sex in 2006, and Norway followed by criminalizing the buying of sex in 2009. Iceland decriminalized the selling of sex in 2007, and then in 2009, criminalized the buying of sex. One of the central issues, especially for Finland and Iceland, was regarding third party involved. Finland specifically prohibits any pimping, by men, women, or organizations of any kind. The involvement of a third party increases the chances and opportunity for trafficking and exploitation.

One might complain that this unfairly places all responsibility upon the buyer - it does, but this makes sense, because it is the seller who allows an intrusion of the most intimate kind. The seller permits herself/himself to be penetrated, in both a literal and psychological way. During the act of prostitution the seller gives up agency over his/her own body and allows another person to take possession of it. This constitutes a loss of power, and so the equalizing factor of the Nordic model works to shift this agency back to the seller, thereby providing them with more control and protection.



Connoisseur forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


My argument stands.


Connoisseur forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Well, I do hope that someone else will take me up on this topic in the future. I would love to analyze it in more depth!
When this final round is over, I'll repost it for a more seasoned contender.


Connoisseur forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by rross 3 years ago
Yes! Blame the purchasers for once. Seems the right way around to me.
Posted by daerice 3 years ago
Sure....go for it!
Posted by Connoisseur 3 years ago
Can I rebuttal much more than constructively argue?

The case for con is merely an attack on pro's case after all.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by rross 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: forfeit. I bet Pro would have won anyway.