I’ve been writing rather a lot about Iceland lately but this is just too good not to mention. The new left-wing government has decided, in an attempt to eliminate all human trafficking into Iceland, to fully outlaw both the purchase of sex and the running of strip clubs. Describing human trafficking as “the most disgusting form of international and organized crime that exists in the world” Social Affairs Minister Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir drew up a 25 point action plan which includes the two measures and it is hoped that as much of it as possible can be implemented in time for the new elections in late April.
With stripping banned too this will take Iceland further than both Norway and Sweden and, since pornography is still illegal (at least according to Iceland Review), will in effect mean that the sex industry is more or less completely outlawed. This is a huge victory for the Icelandic feminist movement which is proportionately quite strong and has long been fighting to shut down the few strip clubs that exist as well as campaigning to get the purchase of sex criminalised.
Iceland of course has a history of strong feminists - on the 24th of October 1975 90% of the country's women went on strike for a day, marching out of their workplaces and refusing to cook, clean or look after children. For a time also there was a women's party represented in parliament with many former leading members now involved in the governing social-democratic Alliance and Left Greens.
Under the decades of right-wing rule progress towards gender equality and female liberation was in many ways held back but with capitalism thoroughly discredited, the left in the ascendancy, and for the first time ever, a female Prime Minister and a gender balanced cabinet the feminist movement can hopefully again march forward and take back what should rightfully be theirs. And can act as an inspiration to their sisters and supporters elsewhere.
There's some more stuff in English about Icelandic feminism here if anyone's interested: