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When a man walked by, the women, in broken Swedish and English, tried to tempt him to buy sex. Until recently, Daniella, 34, who was brought to Sweden from Romania by a pimp 10 years ago, was a part of it. Now, Daniella, who asked that her full name not be used, has walked away from that life.
After the pimp was sent to jail for four years, she turned to a volunteer group for help finding a way off the streets and became part of a broad decline in prostitution in Sweden. A study issued Friday by a government agency in Stockholm found that street prostitution had been cut by more than half since and that the number of men admitting to having purchased sex was down more than 40 percent.
The findings were consistent with an official report completed by the Swedish government in , which concluded that the law had reduced trafficking and transformed attitudes toward buying sex. But as Sweden assesses the lessons of its approach, it continues to grapple with issues that could limit progress in reducing prostitution and sex trafficking, including the effects of technology on the market for sex and the rights of prostitutes themselves.
A review of research on the legislation that the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education commissioned from Malmo University found that it was unclear to what extent mobile phones and the Internet, rather than the law, may have accelerated the reduction in street prostitution by bringing buyers and sellers together electronically.
The stigma against prostitutes remains widespread, the review also found, making it difficult for women to get help from social services and the police, and stoking their fear of eviction or loss of custody of their children. The law is forcing women who sell sex into more dangerous situations, it said, arguing that transactions have become faster and more furtive because men are afraid of the police, leading women to jump into cars without first checking if the driver is drunk, high or otherwise threatening.