A new law makes purchase of sex illegal in Iceland

The Icelandic Parliament has passed a new legislation which makes paying for prostitution illegal. Those caught paying for prostitution could face a fine or up to one year in prison. If the person they are purchasing sexual services from is under the age of 18, they risk up to two years in prison.Iceland is the third country to outlaw the purchase of prostitution. Sweden was the first country to ban the buying of sex in 1999 and Norway followed suit earlier this year. In Finland, a ban on purchasing sexual services from victims of human trafficking was introduced in 2007.

Before this change in legislation, selling and buying sexual services was legal in Iceland. Selling sex was illegal in the country until 2007, when a change in the general penal code decriminalized prostitutes and criminalized profiting on the prostitution of others.

Opinion polls have shown that up to 70% of the population supports banning the purchase of sexual services. In 2003, fourteen organizations, including many women’s organizations, challenged Icelandic parliamentarians to legalize such a ban.