Louise Persson and I have twice complained loudly in the Swedish media about the complete absence of scientific principle and method in the government’s evaluation of its law criminalising clients of sex workers. Anna Skarhed never replied, nor did anyone else who might be expected to want to defend the report published in July. Now it turns out that in December Skarhed admitted quite openly to a reporter from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention that she never cared about science or methodology the slightest bit.
Some have objected to the scientific validity of our investigation. Which is fine, but in my view we have been able to show that the law has had a effect in accordance to the objective: to show that we don’t want prostitution in society.
[En del har haft invändningar mot vetenskapligheten i vår utredning. Det kan man ha, men enligt min syn har vi kunnat visa att lagen haft effekt utifrån syftet: att visa att vi inte vill ha prostitution i samhället.]
It is wrong to refer to effect when you have done no research to find out if one even exists, but Skarhed’s meaning is clear: The goal of the so-called evaluation was never to evaluate anything but instead to demonstrate ideology: a typical End Demand strategy. So it is Orwellian double-speak to claim anything was actually investigated or evaluated. All they did was pretend, and spend public money on it.
This should be front-page news! Although I know that many Swedish people object to this sort of philistine arrogance, it is not so easy to dismantle a policy once it has become embedded in bureaucracy and forms part of a national brand. However, there are indications that more people than usual are annoyed – about which, more later.
—Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist