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     Prostitution legal and regulated      Prostitution (the exchange of sex for money) legal, but organised activities such as brothels and pimping are illegal, prostitution is not regulated      Prostitution illegal      No data

The legality of Prostitution in Europe varies by country. Some countries outlaw the act of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for money, while others allow prostitution itself, but prohibit most forms of procuring (such as operating brothels, facilitating the prostitution of another, deriving financial gain from the prostitution of another, soliciting/loitering, etc.) in an attempt to make it more difficult to engage in prostitution.

In 8 European countries (Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Hungary and Latvia) prostitution is legal and regulated.

The degree of enforcement of the anti-prostitution laws vary by country, by region and by city. In many places there is a big discrepancy between the laws which exist on the books and what happens in practice.

Depending on the country, various prostitution related activities may be prohibited (where a specific law forbids such activity), decriminalized (where there is no specific law either forbidding or allowing and regulating the activity), or regulated (where a specific law explicitly allows and regulates the activity if certain conditions are met). Activities which are subject to the prostitution laws include: selling and buying sexual services, soliciting in public places, running brothels, deriving financial gain from the prostitution of another, offering premises to be used for prostitution etc. Often the prostitution laws are not clear cut and are subject to interpretation, leading to many legal grey areas. While the policy regarding adult prostituting differs by country, child prostitution is illegal throughout Europe. Similarly, human trafficking, forced prostitution and other abusive activities are also prohibited.

The red light district De Wallen in Amsterdam

The legal and social treatment of prostitution differs widely by country.

Very liberal prostitution policies exist in the Netherlands and Germany, and these countries are major destinations for international sex tourism. Amsterdam’s prostitution windows are (in)famous all over the world.

In Sweden, Norway, and Iceland it is illegal to pay for sex, but not to be a prostitute (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute) because these countries consider prostitution a form of exploitation of women.

In Eastern Europe, the anti-prostitution laws target the prostitutes, because in these countries prostitution is condemned from a moral/conservative viewpoint.

Other countries which have restrictive prostitution policies and officially affirm an anti-prostitution stance are the UK, Ireland and France.

Among countries where prostitution is not officially and legally regulated and recognized as a job, laissez-faire and tolerant attitudes exist in Spain, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

Contents

Prostitution in Albania

Prostitution in Albania is illegal, but the country is a major exporter of human trafficking.[1]

Prostitution in Andorra

Prostitution in Andorra is illegal.[2]

Prostitution in Armenia

Prostitution itself is not illegal, but operating brothels and other forms of procuring are prohibited. Operating a brothel and engaging in other forms of pimping are punishable by one to 10 years imprisonment.[3]

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union poverty has increased and many women and children are resorting to the sex trade.[4]

Prostitution in Austria

This is an example of regulated prostitution. Prostitution is legal but restricted by several regulations. Most prostitutes are migrants, mainly from the former Eastern Bloc countries.[5]

Prostitution in Azerbaijan

Prostitution in Azerbaijan is illegal. Many Russian women have migrated from Azerbaijan to work in the sex trade in other countries. Some of these may have been trafficked though the exact figures are uncertain[6]

Prostitution in Belarus

Prostitution is illegal in Belarus. However prostitution is present in the country, particularly in regions outside the main cities and in hotels.[7]

Prostitution in Belgium

Rue d'Aerschot, Brussels: A portion of the street, with red lights and prostitutes visible. Prostitution is tolerated in Belgium.

Prostitution itself is legal in Belgium, but the law prohibits operating brothels and other forms of pimping [8] or assisting immigration for the purpose of prostitution. However, in practice enforcement can be lax and "unofficial" brothels are tolerated (for example in Antwerp). Human trafficking or exploiting individuals for financial gain is punishable for a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.[9] A recent report by RiskMonitor foundation found that 70% of the prostitutes who work in Belgium are from Bulgaria[10] . Belgium is listed by the UNDOC as a top destination for victims of human trafficking.[11] Many sex workers organisations feel that the present grey area in which prostitution operates leaves sex workers vulnerable to exploitation.[12][13][14][15]

Prostitution in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Prostitution is illegal. The law treats procuring as a major crime. Under the law, trafficking is a state‑level crime that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.[16]

Prostitution in Bulgaria

Prostitution itself is not illegal, but organized prostitution (brothels, prostitution rings or other forms of procuring) is prohibited [17] Because of poor socioeconomic conditions, a high number of Romani women were involved in prostitution.[17]

It originally gained a reputation as a transit for human trafficking, and now it has gained a reputation for being a destination for the sex trade to take place.[18][19]

The Bulgarian government is stepping up its efforts to eradicate human trafficking.[19]. The sex trade is a major money maker for Bulgarian criminals.[20][21][22] The Bulgarian government did consider fully legalizing and regulating prostitution.[23]

Prostitution in Croatia

Prostitution in Croatia is illegal, but like in many other Southeast European countries, the problem of human trafficking for the purposes of sex is big in Croatia. However, according the U.S. State Department, Croatia is a tier 1 country, actively working to prevent the sex trade.[24][25]

Prostitution in Cyprus

The law does not prohibit prostitution itself, but operating brothels, organizing prostitution rings, living off the profits of prostitution, encouraging prostitution or forcing a person to engage in prostitution are illegal activities.[26] The law regulating the hiring of women at nightclubs and cabarets provides penalties for women and employers who "partially or completely earn a living from prostitution." In July 2006 the Nicosia District Court ordered the first prostitution-related imprisonment in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots. After pleading no contest to the charges, the manager of Mexico nightclub, Mesut Kilicarslan, was sentenced to 15 days in prison for encouraging and profiting from prostitution. By year's end three more suspects were sentenced to imprisonment for encouraging and profiting from prostitution.[26]

Cyprus has been criticized by the US State Department [27] for failing to control the follow of illegal immigrants and legal to be involved in forced prostitution. Cyprus has gained a reputation for being a major transit point for people smugglers to transport women for the purposes of prostitution. International observers have criticized the government for its lack of action to prevent forced prostitution. The law of Cyprus forbids forced (but not voluntary) prostitution. However, its believed that many immigrants are hired as bar maids and coerced into prostitution by this method.[28]

Prostitution in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic prostitution is not illegal, but brothels or other forms of procuring are prohibited.[29] The enforcement of these laws is lax and prostitution and other activities which surround it are very common in the country.

Ever since the Czechoslovakian Velvet Revolution (1989) led to the creation of the two independent states Czech Republic and Slovakia, prostitution has been flourishing, and has contributed its share to the region's booming tourist economy. It is widespread in Prague and areas near the Republic's western borders with Germany and Austria. In 2002, the Czech Statistical Bureau estimated the trade to be worth six billion crowns ($217 million) a year.[30] Current estimates indicate there are 10,000 to 25,000 prostitutes in the country. In Prague, the city's third district (Praha 3), immediately east of the center, is home to much of the city's sex industry. As of January, 2008, prostitutes could be found in the local Czech classifieds newspapers for approximately 1,000 crowns per hour.

Prostitution in Denmark

In Denmark, prostitution itself is legal, but operating brothels and other forms of pimping are illegal activities.[31].

Prostitution in Estonia

Prostitution itself is legal, but organized prostitution is illegal.

Prostitution in Finland

Prostitution itself is legal in Finland (soliciting in a public place is illegal), but organized prostitution (operating a brothel or a prostitution ring and other forms of pimping) is illegal.[32] In June 2006, parliament voted by 158 to 15 with four abstentions to approve a bill which outlaws the buying of sexual services from prostitutes if it is linked to human trafficking.[33]

Prostitution in France

Prostitution itself is not illegal in France, but organized prostitution (brothels, prostitution rings or other forms of pimping) is prohibited. Public solicitation is also illegal.

Prostitution in Georgia

In Georgia, prostitution is illegal, but widespread, particularly in Tbilisi.[34] Many NGO's attribute this to the harsh economic conditions according to the US State Department.[35][36] Many women from Georgia are of Human Trafficking operations to or from countries. Women who are forced to be prostitutes are in Georgia are often from Asia and neighboring European countries.

In 2006 the country incorporated into its domestic law the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.[35] The punishment for human trafficking in Georgia is 15 years. There is also a special law to protect families of Georgian women who fear reprisals from gang masters of women who refuse to forced into prostitution abroad.

Prostitution in Germany

Prostitutes waiting for customers on the Reeperbahn, Hamburg

Prostitution is legal and regulated in Germany. In 2002, the government changed the law in an effort to improve the legal situation of prostitutes. However, the social stigmatization of prostitutes persists, forcing most prostitutes to lead a double life. Authorities consider the common exploitation of women from Eastern Europe to be the main problem associated with the occupation. Germany is listed by the UNDOC as a top destination for victims of human trafficking.[11]

Prostitution in Greece

Prostitution is legal and regulated in Greece. Greek authorities decided to implement a 1999 law which stipulates that all brothels must have permits. [37][38] Persons engaged in prostitution must register at the local prefecture and carry a medical card which is updated every two weeks. It is estimated that fewer than 1,000 women are legally employed as prostitutes and approximately 20,000 women, most of foreign origin, are engaged in illegal prostitution. [39] Street prostitution is dominated by Albanian refugees and immigrants.[40] According to NGO estimates, there are 13,000-14,000 trafficking victims in the country at any given time. Major countries of origin for trafficking victims include Nigeria, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Albania, Moldova, Romania, and Belarus. [41]

Prostitution in Hungary

Prostitution is legal and regulated in Hungary (it has been legalized and regulated by the government in 1999). Under the law, prostitutes are basically professionals who engage in sexual activities in exchange for money. The government allows this activity as long as they pay taxes and keep legal documents.

Prostitution in Iceland

Paying for sex is now illegal in Iceland (the client commits a crime but not the prostitute).[42]

Opinion polls have shown that up to 70% of the population supports banning the purchase of sexual services.[42]

Prostitution in Ireland

Prostitution itself is not illegal in the Republic of Ireland, but the law criminalises many activities associated with it (solicitation in a public place, operating a brothel or other forms of pimping). However, female escort prostitution can be found.

Prostitution in Italy

A street prostitute talking to a potential customer in Torino, Italy, 2005

In Italy, prostitution itself is not illegal, but the law prohibits organized prostitution (brothels, prostitution rings or similar commercial enterprises and other forms of pimping).[43] Since 2008, also street prostitution is illegal, for both prostitutes and consumers. Italy is listed by the UNDOC as a top destination for victims of human trafficking.[11]

Prostitution in Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan prostitution itself is not illegal, but acts facilitating prostitution, such as operating a brothel or prostitution ring, are illegal.[44] Forced prostitution and prostitution connected to organized crime are prohibited. Prostitution is a serious problem. NGOs reported that criminal prostitution rings often included local law enforcement officials.[45][46]

Prostitution in Latvia

Prostitution is legal and regulated in Latvia. Prostitutes must register, must undergo monthly health checks and must carry a health card; if they fail to do so they can be penalized.[citation needed] Latvia is a popular destination for sex tourism.[47][48][49] Although prostitution is regulated in Latvia, brothels and other forms of procuring are illegal. According to the law "No activities in which a third person engages with the intent of promoting prostitution shall be permitted" and "Prostitutes shall be forbidden to gather in groups to offer or provide sexual services..."[citation needed] Latvia is a destination country for women trafficked from Belgium and Portugal and a source country for women trafficked to Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, Greece, Ireland, and Japan; Latvian teenage girls are also trafficked within the country.[50] The director of the The Resource Center for Women said that a lack of political will to meaningfully address issues of human trafficking, coupled with the country’s debilitating economic problems and soaring unemployment levels, contribute to the proliferation of human trafficking in the country.[51]

Prostitution in Liechtenstein

Prostitution in Liechtenstein is illegal but is tolerated by the police as long as it is not street prostitution.[52][53][54]

Prostitution in Lithuania

Prostitution in Lithuania is illegal, but it is common. The penalty for prostitution is a fine of $120 to $200 (300 to 500 litas) for a single offense and up to $400 (1,000 litas) for repeat offenses.[55]

Prostitution in Luxembourg

Prostitution itself is legal in Luxembourg, but activities associated with organized prostitution, such as profiting from (operating brothels and prostitution rings) or aiding prostitution are illegal.[56] Human trafficking incures severe penalties.[57] [58]

Prostitution in Malta

Prostitution is illegal, punishable by sentences of several months to two years in prison.[59]

In March 2008, police and the Ministry for Social Policy signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize a screening process for all arrested persons engaged in prostitution to determine whether they were victims of trafficking or other abuses.[60] The law provides punishments of up to 6 years for involving minors in prostitution.[61]

Prostitution in Moldova

Prostitution in Moldova is illegal, but because it is Europe's poorest country it is a major exporter of human trafficking for the purpose of the sex trade.[62] [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] Human traffickers prey most on the women from the poor villages.[69] The country is the source of much of Europe's human trafficking. Women and children are trafficked for sexual exploitation to Turkey, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Russia, Cyprus, Greece, Albania, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, France, Italy, and Portugal.[70] The authorities are trying to lead awareness among the population about the extent of this problem. During the last years, the authorities have launched numerous information campaigns, including one which consisted of billboards in the streets of the capital, Chisinau, depicting a girl gripped in a huge clenched fist, being exchanged for dollars, which read: "You are not for sale". [71]

Prostitution in the Netherlands

Scene from Amsterdam's red light district. Netherlands has one of the most liberal prostitution policies in the world

Prostitution is legal and regulated in the Netherlands, and it is common. Netherlands has one of the most liberal prostitution policies in the world, and, as such, it attracts sex tourists from many European countries and from the US.

Netherlands is listed by the UNDOC as a top destination for victims of human trafficking.[11] Out of all Amsterdam's prostitutes, more than 75% are from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, according to a former prostitute who produced a report about the sex trade in Amsterdam. [72]

Prostitution in Norway

Paying for sex is illegal (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute). The law prohibiting the buying of sexual services came into effect on January 1, 2009, following the passing of new legislation by the Storting in November 2008 [73]

Prostitution in Poland

In Poland prostitution is legal, but operating brothels or other forms of pimping are prohibited. Prostitution is present in various forms in the country and experts estimated that 18,000 to 20,000 women worked as prostitutes, many of them employed in "massage parlors" and "escort services" that functioned as brothels.[74]

Human trafficking is also a problem in Poland. Poland is a destination country for women trafficked from Bulgaria. It is also a transit country for women from Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus. At least 3,500 Bulgarian women are in Poland and more than 1,000 from Ukraine and Belarus.[75]

Prostitution in Portugal

In Portugal prostitution itself is not illegal, but organized prostitution (brothels, prostitution rings and other forms of pimping) is prohibited. Forced prostitution and human trafficking are also illegal. [76] By the mid-2000s, the number of female prostitutes was estimated at 28,000, at least 50% were foreigners.[77][78]

Prostitution in the Republic of Macedonia

Prostitution in the Republic of Macedonia is illegal, but flourishes in the balk lands. The country is a major transit point for prostitution to the west.[79] [80] The Macedonian government is trying to clamp down on prostitution.[81]. The trafficking of women for sex is worth billions in Macedonia and is considered to be run primarily by Albanian gangsters.[82]

Prostitution in Romania

Prostitution is illegal in Romania.[83][84] The government had considered legalizing and regulating it (in 2007). The Association for the Promotion of Women in Romania opposes legalized prostitution, as they view prostitution as "another form of violence against women and girls".[85]

Romania is among the 11 countries listed by the United Nations as the biggest sources of human trafficking, based on reported numbers of victims.[86] Every year thousands of women and girls, some as young as 13, are kidnapped or lured by promises of well-paid jobs or marriage and sold to gangs who lock them up in night clubs and brothels or force them to work on the streets.[86] Homeless children in Romania have increasingly been trafficked under false pretenses and forced into prostitution in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany and Amsterdam, Netherlands.[87]

Prostitution in Russia

Prostitution is an administrative, but not criminal offence in Russia (such as, for example, drinking beer in a public place or walking nude on the street). The maximum punishment is a fine up to 2000 rubles; however, organizing prostitution or engaging somebody into prostitution is punishable by a prison term.

Prostitution in Serbia

Prostitution in Serbia is illegal and can incur a prison sentence of between 5 and 10 years. Prostitution is a major problem in Kosovo.[88] The police are unwilling to consider legalising it despite demands from sex workers.[89]

Prostitution in Slovakia

Prostitution itself is not illegal, but operating brothels and other activities related to prostitution are prohibited.[90]

Prostitution in Slovenia

Prostitution in Slovenia is illegal.[91].

Prostitution in Spain

Prostitution in Spain is not illegal, but owning or running brothels has been illegal since 1956. The pimps and owners of brothels are punished. However, there are many "whiskerias" or "clubs" (where prostitution takes place) and which are tolerated.[92][93] Most sex workers in Spain use condoms.[50]

Prostitution in Sweden

Paying for sex is illegal (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute).

Sweden considers prostitution a form of violence against women so the crime consists in the customer paying for sex, not in the prostitute selling sexual services. [94] The law which makes it illegal to pay for sex, but not to be a prostitute was adopted in 1999, and at that time it was unique (since then a similar law was adopted by Norway and Iceland).

Prostitution in Switzerland

Prostitution in Switzerland is legal and regulated. Licensed brothels, typically with a reception and leading to several studio apartments, are available. Street prostitution is illegal, except in specially designated areas in the major cities. Many prostitutes operate using newspaper advertisements, mobile phones and secondary rented apartments. It is legal to advertise for "massages" in Swiss tabloid newspapers. Swiss prostitutes pay VAT (Value added tax) on their services and some accept credit cards. The majority of prostitutes are foreigners from Latin America, Eastern Europe or the Far East. In recent years the number of prostitutes has increased. The police estimates that there may be between 1,500 and 3,000 victims of human trafficking in Switzerland. The prostitution business often becomes violent, it can involve attacks, turf wars, gunfights and arson attacks on rivals' prostitution establishments. [95]

Prostitution in Turkey

In Turkey, prostitution is legal and regulated. Prostitutes must register and acquire an ID card stating the dates of their health checks. Also it is mandatory for registered prostitutes to have regular health checks for sexually transmitted diseases. The police are allowed to check the authenticity of registered prostitutes to determine whether they have been examined properly and to ensure they see the health authorities if they don't. Men cannot register under this regulation. Most sex workers, however, are unregistered, as local governments have made it policy not to issue new registrations. As a result most sex workers in Turkey are not registered sex workers, working in violation of the law.[96][97] Turkey is listed by the UNDOC as a top destination for victims of human trafficking.[11]

Prostitution in Ukraine

Prostitution is illegal in Ukraine, but widespread and largely ignored by the government. Sex tourism rose as the country attracted greater numbers of foreign tourists. Laws criminalizing organized prostitution and penalties for human trafficking have had little effect because many convicted traffickers often do not end up serving prison time.

Prostitution in the United Kingdom

Prostitution (the exchange of money or goods for sexual services) is legal in the UK for both the client and the prostitute providing the prostitute is 18 or older. However several activities surrounding it are outlawed (solicitation in a public place, kerb-crawling, "keeping or managing, or acting or assisting in the management"[98] of a brothel, pimping).[99][100]

See Also

References

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