Monthly Archives: August 2015

Why paid parental leave is a men’s issue, too

In The Guardian, I write about the benefits that paid parental leave policies have on fathers. An excerpt:

I do not deny all the positive effects that introducing paid parental leave may have on women’s empowerment and the national economy. But the economic impact is not that important; after all, I think most of us would still advocate for paid leave even if research were to find that such a policy causes a drop in GDP or a reduction in labor-force participation. And although helping women have both a family and a career is absolutely crucial, presenting it solely as a women’s issue risks giving the false impression that men have nothing to gain, which makes it so much harder to win support for a much-needed policy change.

Paid parental leave is a men’s and a children’s issue, too. And we men need to step up and make that clear.

Read the full article here.

Simon Hedlin

How we should handle prostitution

Today I write about prostitution in Los Angeles Times with Birgitta Ohlsson, a former minister of the Swedish Cabinet, a current member of parliament and the foreign policy spokeswoman for the Swedish Liberal Party. An excerpt:

It is disgraceful that the United States, as reported by the Human Rights Project for Girls, jails victims of sex trafficking as offenders. By some counts, more than 90% of those who are arrested for prostitution in the United States are those who sell sex; fewer than 10% are buyers.

Yet many people in prostitution are victims of exploitation, whereas buyers are often among the privileged. A 2013 survey of American men who frequently bought sex found that almost half had an annual income of $120,000 or more, and close to 80% had graduated from college.

Ultimately, decriminalizing sellers and criminalizing buyers is only part of the solution. Sex workers must have better access to housing, healthcare, education and opportunities to leave the sex industry. There is more to be done not only in the U.S. but also in Sweden to address the widespread stigma, abuse and health risks in prostitution.

Read the full article here.

Simon Hedlin

Lessons from Vietnam

It appears that several presidential candidates would like to put American boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria to destroy the Islamic State. Here are two relevant quotes about the Vietnam War to bear in mind:

The Vietnamese, had we bombed them to the stone age, would have gone back into the jungle, waited us out. They knew something that we also knew but didn’t acknowledge and that was that someday we would go home and they could come back and rebuild what we had destroyed.

– James Thomson, Jr., National Security Council staff member under Lyndon Johnson

I think I have made two mistakes in judgment. One was that I underestimated the tenacity of the North Vietnamese. And I think I overestimated the patience of the American people.

– Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, 1961-1969

Simon Hedlin

Amnesty misinterprets evidence on decriminalization of prostitution

Amnesty International appears eager to decriminalize buying sex. In its draft policy proposal, as a model country, it points to New Zealand, where prostitution was decriminalized in 2003, and argues, among other things:

A literature review prepared for the New Zealand Ministry of Justice found that sex workers were less willing prior to decriminalisation to disclose their occupation to health care workers or to carry condoms.

First of all, even though the draft is nicely presented with footnotes and references to exact page numbers, the cited literature review actually presents no such evidence (which is logical since it was written so shortly after prostitution was decriminalized that it is hard to see that any research on the effect of the law could possibly have been conducted by then).

Second, if one instead turns to the actual data that was collected by the studies that were commissioned by New Zealand’s government, it is clearly concluded that when comparing the situation before and after decriminalization, there “was no significant difference in accessing of a GP [a doctor], disclosure of occupation to the GP and services accessed for sexual health check-ups.”


Simon Hedlin