"In 2003, New Zealand became the first country in the world to decriminalise its sex trade. I remember where I was when the Prostitution Reform Act passed into law. I was midway through a politics degree at the University of Auckland, so naturally, I was sitting at a café weighing in on what was deemed at the time to be a “modern” and “progressive” law change.
While I was firmly against legalisation, my opponents subscribed to a “harm reduction” philosophy. They argued that progressive legislation focused on regulating brothels, asserting that when the “industry” is regulated, abuse and violence can be effectively curbed. Regulation, so the argument goes, reduces stigma and prostitution can then be treated like any other form of work.
Unbeknown to anyone at that table, on the other side of the world, in Sweden, they had passed a substantially different piece of legislation two years earlier. It would come to be known as the Nordic model. Advocates of this system adopt a stance of “harm elimination”; prostitution, they argue, is innately harmful and needs to be abolished, just like any other form of violence against women or slavery."