Criminal

Prostitution Policies of the Nations

Country

Population:
July 2009 Estimate
Legal Status of Prostitution, Brothel Ownership, and Pimping
Related Information
1. Afghanistan
Population: 33,609,937
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Afghanistan’s sex industry is booming, according to both private and official sources. Statistics are scattered, and few solid figures exist. But since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001, prostitution has become, if not more widespread, at least more open…
The Taliban strictly controlled sexual activity, meting out harsh punishments for extra-marital relations and adultery. Married women who had sex outside marriage were stoned to death. Others were publicly flogged.
Sex outside marriage remains illegal in post-Taliban Afghanistan, and the prisons are full of women who have been convicted of ‘fornication,’ a charge that carries a penalty of from five to 15 years in jail.”
2. Albania
Population: 3,639,453
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The law prohibits prostitution; however, it remained a problem…
The country was a source country for trafficking of women and children for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, although there has been a slow but steady decline in the number of persons trafficked each year. Greece is the main country of destination for trafficked women. Italy, Macedonia, and Kosovo were also destinations, with many victims trafficked onward to Western Europe. Traffickers largely used overland routes or falsified documents to transport their victims by airplane or ferry. Police and shelter representatives continued to report a trend of traffickers moving females from villages and smaller towns to larger cities for forced prostitution in hotels and private homes.”
3. Angola
Population 12,799,293
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal, but the prohibition was not consistently enforced. Many women engaged in prostitution due to poverty, but there were no estimates on its prevalence. The MINFAMU [Ministry of Family and the Promotion of Women] maintained a women’s shelter in Luanda that was open to former prostitutes…
Child prostitution is illegal; however, local NGOs expressed concern over child prostitution in the country, especially in Luanda and Cunene provinces.”
4. Antigua and Barbuda
Population: 85,632
Sexual Offences Act, 1995
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is prohibited, but it remained a problem. There were a number of brothels that catered primarily to the local population…
There are no laws that specifically address trafficking in persons, and there were occasional reports of trafficking in women to the country. There were a number of brothels, which were staffed mostly by women from various Caribbean countries who traveled to the country as ‘entertainers’ or ‘dancers.’ In some cases brothel owners reportedly retained their documents to exert influence over the victims. However, authorities usually deported the women immediately, before information on possible trafficking could be obtained.
There were two known cases during the year in which persons were trafficked to the country to work in local brothels. Authorities deported one victim and the other voluntarily returned to her home country with the support of the Bureau of Gender Affairs. In neither case were charges brought against the brothel owners.”
5. Argentina
Population: 40,913,584
Código Penal de la Nación Argentina – Título III: Delitos Contra La Integridad Sexual
Prostitution: Legal
Article 19 of the Constitution states, “The private actions of people that do not offend in any way the public order and morality, nor damage a third person, are only reserved to God, and are exempt from the authority of the magistrates.”
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
It is illegal to solicit, to aid or abet a prostitute, or live off their earnings.
“[P]rostitutes throughout Argentina are casting off police persecution and demanding the same rights as other workers. They have formed the Association of Women Prostitutes of Argentina, or Ammar – the word amar means to love in Spanish – … and have set their sights even higher. In the coming months, the nine-year-old organisation plans its boldest step yet: to demand government recognition as an official union. It would be the first such union in Latin America and one of only a handful in the world…
1,700 Argentine prostitutes [are] now registered as members of Ammar, whose leaders say government recognition would give the organisation the legal standing to fight for the decriminalisation of prostitution. Technically, prostitution is not illegal in Argentina but most provinces have laws allowing the arrest of prostitutes for causing ‘scandal in the public thoroughfare’…
Pimping is illegal but brothel owners are rarely sent to jail. Instead, they form shady business alliances with the police, who collect regular rake-offs.”
6. Armenia
Population: 2,967,004
Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia (39 KB)
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution and sex tourism are legal, but operating a brothel is prohibited and engaging in other forms of pimping are punishable by one to 10 years’ imprisonment. According to media reports, there were fewer than 5,000 women involved in prostitution in the country, approximately 1,500 of whom were in Yerevan. Police and other security forces reportedly tolerated prostitution…
The country is a source and transit point for women and girls trafficked primarily for sexual and, to a lesser extent, labor exploitation to the United Arab Emirates and Turkey…
Traffickers, using developed networks in source and destination countries, typically recruited victims who were already engaged in prostitution. The majority, but not all, of the identified victims were aware that they would end up in the sex industry in other countries; however, they were unaware of the traffickers’ intent or the exploitative circumstances they would face abroad…
Women engaged in prostitution, orphans who had outgrown their institutions, homeless or divorced women, and women in difficult financial situations were at greatest risk of being trafficked. There were some reported incidents of physical violence against trafficking victims.”
7. Australia
Population: 21,262,641
Queensland Prostitution Licensing Authority (PLA) Summary of Laws
Prostitution: Limited Legality
The law varies depending on the state from decriminalized to legally regulated to criminal. Click on the PLA Summary on the left to see a description of each state.
Brothel Ownership: Limited Legality
4 states permit brothels, 1 allows as part of a containment policy, and 3 prohibit.
Pimping: Limited Legality
“Foreign backpackers visiting Queensland have been earning money as illegal prostitutes and damaging legitimate operators, the legal brothel industry has claimed. Queensland Adult Business Association Nick Inskip said the illegal sex industry was undermining efforts by the legal industry to make a profit and uphold health and safety standards…. ‘They can charge less because they are not paying GST, staff costs for managers and receptionists, or have a registered business name,’ Mr Inskip said…
One solution could be allowing legal brothels to operate outcall services, he said. But the proposal has previously been rejected by the Crime and Misconduct Commission and the state government. Queensland currently has 23 legal brothels operating in city and regional areas. Police figures show the number of prostitution offences reported in Queensland increased from 362 to 600 in 2005-06.”
8. Austria
Population: 8,210,281
Prostitution: Legal
Legal since Jan. 1, 1975. Laws regulating prostitution require prostitutes to register, undergo periodic health examinations, be 19 years old or older, and pay taxes.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“A former Olympic figure skating gold medalist was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday after being convicted of involvement in a gang that smuggled women from Eastern Europe to Austria for forced prostitution.
Wolfgang Schwarz, who won the gold for men’s figure skating at the 1968 Winter Olympics, was arrested in Vienna last March. Police charged him with procuring visas for seven young women who were smuggled into the country to work in brothels…
Judge Anton Baumgartner sentenced him to 18 months in prison, but Schwarz’s attorney has three days to consider whether to file a formal objection to the sentence before it will take effect, the Austria Press Agency reported. ‘Signals must be sent that slave trade is forbidden, Baumgartner said in his ruling.
Investigators said the gang was involved in recruiting women from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania and other eastern countries to Austria by promising them lucrative jobs. Upon their arrival, they were brought to brothels in the Austrian cities of Vienna, Graz and Salzburg, and their passports were confiscated, police said.”
9. Bahamas
Population: 309,156
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal and was not a widespread problem. There are no laws specifically addressing sex tourism. Police officials acknowledged that sex entertainment was a developing industry but did not consider sex tourism a problem…
On November 26, parliament passed legislation specifically addressing trafficking in persons for the first time. The law also prohibits prostitution and the procurement of persons for purposes of prostitution either in or outside the country by force, threats, intimidation, or the administering of drugs. The maximum penalty for trafficking in persons is life imprisonment.”
10. Bangladesh
Population: 156,050,883
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Female prostitution with minimum age 18 is legal. Male prostitution is illegal.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Legal
“Female prostitution was legal. Male prostitution was illegal, although local NGOs claimed it was common in the major cities. The authorities generally ignored the minimum age of 18, often circumvented by false statements of age, for legal female prostitution. The government rarely prosecuted procurers of minors, and large numbers of underage girls in prostitution worked in brothels. Local NGOs estimated the total number of female prostitutes was as many as 100,000. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated in 2004 that there were 10,000 underage girls used in commercial sexual exploitation in the country, but other estimates placed the figure as high as 29,000. Trafficking of women internally and internationally remained a problem…
As many as 10,000 children were used in brothels for commercial sexual exploitation, and procurers of minors were rarely prosecuted.
Government corruption greatly facilitated the process of trafficking. Police and local government officials often ignored trafficking in women and children for commercial sexual exploitation and were easily bribed by brothel owners and pimps.”
11. Barbados
Population: 284,589
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal, but it remained a problem, fueled by poverty and tourism. A number of brothels with women from Guyana, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean islands operated in the country. The police and immigration officers periodically raided brothels and deported women found working illegally. There is no statute specifically prohibiting sexual tourism and no statistics on it, but anecdotal evidence suggested that it occurred…
The constitution and laws do not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, although laws against slavery, forced labor, or other crimes could be applied. A law prohibiting the procurement of persons for sex, which carries a 15-year sentence, could be used to prosecute that type of trafficking cases. There were limited reports that persons were trafficked to the country, both to work as prostitutes and as domestic workers or in the construction and garment industries.”
12. Belgium
Population: 10,414,336
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“As the 9 a.m. shift began at Villa Tinto, which calls itself Europe’s most high-tech brothel, prostitute Andrea Maes put on her leather boots, pressed her finger on a biometric scanner and started posing for potential clients in her neon-lit display window. After matching her fingerprint with the one in its database, the brothel’s system clocked her in and flashed her ID number — A9018 — to a control room manned by a fellow prostitute. It also switched on the lights in her designer-furnished room — more boutique hotel than bordello…
Villa Tinto, House of Pleasure, is a pioneering example of a widening European drive to legalize prostitution, while combating the crime and violence it fosters — including the explosion in human trafficking in recent years. The brothel opened in January, with the help of the Antwerp city council, the police and the prostitutes themselves as part of a ‘tolerance zone,’ begun in 2001. The Belgian government views the three-block area as a test case as it considers national legalization — a move to wrest prostitution from the control of organized criminals and bring in some lost tax revenue.”
13. Belize
Population: 307,899
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The law does not explicitly address adult prostitution, and the government did not use law enforcement resources to combat prostitution. Loitering for the purposes of prostitution, operating a brothel, and soliciting sex are illegal…
There were no reliable estimates of the extent of trafficking. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, working with the Ministry of Human Development, indicated 70 victims of trafficking in persons were identified through year’s end. Sixty-five of the victims comprised one trafficking case. There were reports that women were trafficked to the country from neighboring countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, primarily for prostitution and nude dancing. NGOs reported that persons in the commercial sex trade appeared to be in the country (and in their current occupation) by choice, usually at the suggestion of a friend or family member who was also engaged in commercial sex work. Victims generally lived in squalid conditions in the bars where they worked. Some bar owners reportedly confiscated victims’ passports.”
14. Bolivia
Population: 9,775,246
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“As of Wednesday morning, Bolivia’s ‘night workers’ are on strike. Up to 35,000 prostitutes across the country have refused to report for the medical checkups required every 20 days to legally work the streets…
It comes in response to attacks in the city of El Alto last week in which citizens burned brothels and beat sex workers in protest against legal prostitution… The rampage began after citizens demanded that brothels and bars be located at least 3,200 feet away from schools. Within 48 hours, angry mobs had taken matters into their own hands, burning more than 30 establishments…
The municipal government responded by closing all brothels within 1,600 feet of schools, but took no action against those who had attacked the prostitutes… The latest violence against Bolivia’s sex workers is not surprising. Although the Supreme Court in 2001 legalized prostitution, which is widely practiced nationwide, the oldest profession has not gained the relative social acceptance it enjoys in some European countries. Instead, women and men in the sex industry have become scapegoats for everything from broken homes to the rising HIV-infection rate.”
15. Brazil
Population: 198,739,269
Labor and Employment Ministry Primer on Sex Professional
Prostitution: Legal
There are no regulations for adult prostitution.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“[R]ather than comply with an American demand that all foreign recipients of AIDS assistance must explicitly condemn prostitution, Brazil has decided to forgo up to $40 million in American support…
‘Our feeling was that the manner in which the Usaid [sic] funds were consigned would bring harm to our program from the point of view of its scientific credibility, its ethical values and its social commitment,’ Pedro Chequer, director of the Brazilian government’s AIDS program, said… ‘We must remain faithful to the established principles of the scientific method and not allow theological beliefs and dogma to interfere.’…
Mark Dybul, deputy coordinator and chief medical officer for the Bush administration’s global AIDS initiative,… says the prostitution controversy is not only overblown, but is also an example of the many misconceptions about U.S. policy. ‘On the ground, this isn’t an issue,’… ‘Part of a compassionate response involves meeting people where they are and working with them.’ He added, ‘Each country has a sovereign right to make decisions for themselves, and we respect that.’ But to receive American aid, he said, ‘it does require an acknowledgment that prostitution is not a good thing and to be opposed to it.'”
16. BulgariaPopulation: 7,204,687
Penal Code of Bulgaria
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Prostitution is not specifically addressed in the law.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution now exists in a legal gray area in Bulgaria, a small but important country for the European sex trade. Women are sent abroad by the thousands each year to work as prostitutes, often against their will, and many others are forced into prostitution within the country’s borders.
Opponents of legal prostitution argue that illegal operations flourish in environments where paying for sex is permitted, and that human trafficking follows the demand. The goal of prohibiting sex-for-money is to reduce the demand, and thus curtail trafficking if not stamp it out entirely…
While the front-burner issue in Bulgaria is the export of women into forced prostitution abroad, Ms. [Antoaneta]Vassileva of the antitrafficking commission said that 45 percent of trafficking takes place within the country, often from poor rural villages to the big cities and resorts along the Black Sea coast. The country’s chief prosecutor, Boris Velchev, who was at the forum, described what he called a double standard’ in the treatment of those forced into prostitution abroad and attitudes toward those domestically, who he said receive less attention and are more likely to be blamed than treated as victims.”
17. Cambodia
Population: 14,494,293
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The constitution prohibits prostitution; however, there is no specific legislation against working as a prostitute. Trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution was a serious problem, despite laws against procuring and kidnapping for purposes of sexual exploitation. There were reports that police abused prostitutes. Despite increased crackdowns on brothel operators in Phnom Penh, prostitution and related trafficking persisted. Estimates of the number of working prostitutes ranged from 14,725 to 18,250. Sex tourism was a problem, fueled by pervasive poverty and the perception of impunity.”
18. Canada
Population: 35,540,400
(as of July 1, 2014)
Canadian House Bill C-36 (302 KB) 
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Selling sex is legal, but buying sex became illegal on Dec. 6, 2014. Buyers face a minimum $500 fine and up to five years imprisonment.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Bill C-36 — dubbed the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act — discourages and criminalizes those who create a demand for prostitution. The government has maintained all along that once passed into law, the prostitution bill will mean safer conditions for sex workers.
The federal government introduced the bill after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down in a unanimous decision the previous law as unconstitutional, giving the Conservatives one year to rewrite legislation…
A group advocating for the rights of sex workers said the law comes into force despite efforts to convince the government of the link between the criminalization of prostitution and violence against sex workers.
‘December 6th will be especially sad for sex workers this year,’ said Emily Symons, chair of POWER, in a written statement on Friday.
‘The deeply flawed and misleadingly named Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act not only reintroduces laws deemed unconstitutional in a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court only one year ago — it actually makes them worse.’ “
Susana Mas, “Prostitution Law Comes into Force on Day of Action on Violence against Women,” cbc.ca, Dec. 6, 2014
19. Chile
Population: 16,601,707
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“President Michelle Bachelet accepted Friday the resignation of the director of Chile’s PDI investigative police, Arturo Herrera, amid a scandal over allegations that members of his force aided and abetted a prostitution ring which exploited underage girls…
Though the prostitution ring was broken up in the autumn of 2007, the uproar over possible police misconduct began just weeks ago with the airing of a television documentary about the operation run by pimp Carlos Parra Ruis, known as ‘Charly.’…
The documentary said that several police detectives were regular customers at the two brothels run by Charly: the Hotel Louisiana and the Cabaret Pandemonium, both in Valparaiso.
Those detectives were allegedly protecting Charly’s operation, taking payment in the form of sessions with drugged girls.
Some of the girls also said they were taken to the police barracks to have sex with officers.
While the prostitution ring was eventually broken up by PDI officers from the Santiago division assigned to Valparaiso, Channel 13 said that neither police leadership nor prosecutors were willing to investigate the charges about cops’ collusion with Charly.”
20. China (including Taiwan)
Population: 1,338,612,968
Penal Code of China – Part Two, Chapter Six, Section Eight: Crimes of Organizing, Forcing, Luring, Sheltering, or Procuring other Persons to Engage in Prostitution (in Chinese)
Prostitution: Illegal
Defined as a social practice that abrogates the inherent rights of women to personhood.
(Taiwan, a disputed province of China, legalized prostitution on June 24, 2009.)
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“In the biggest bust of prostitution related crimes in recent years, Beijing police last week arrested 38 prostitutes, 63 Internet technicians, five gang leaders, an unlicensed medical worker, along with 45 of the prostitutes’ clients. The gang attracted clients for the prostitutes by randomly sending countless messages to Internet users who were logged on to major chat rooms, forums, or through instant messages. Police say the gang sent more than seven million messages to Internet users in the past month alone. The only job of most of the gang members was to send the soliciting messages from Internet bars.
A reporter with the Beijing Daily says he received 32 on-line solicitations for the services of a prostitute in just a half an hour. Many messages purported to be from available young, female college students. Other messages directed people to blogs that contained nude pictures of women. In all the messages phone numbers were left where clients could make contact with a prostitute. Police say the youngest prostitute they arrested was just 15 years old and one of the gang members, surnamed Zhao, treated the prostitutes for venereal disease and provide [sic] them with condoms. The Beijing Daily reports that organized messaging for prostitution services remains rampant in online chat rooms.”
21. Colombia
Population: 45,644,023
Código Penal Colombiano -Parte 8, Capítulo IV: Del Proxenetismo
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Adult prostitution is legal in designated ‘tolerance zones,’ but enforcement of, and restriction to, the zones remained difficult. Prostitution was widespread and exacerbated by poverty and internal displacement. Sex tourism existed to a limited extent, particularly in coastal cities such as Cartagena and Barranquilla, where marriage and dating services were often fronts for sexual tourism. The law prohibits organizing or facilitating sexual tourism and provides penalties of three to eight years’ imprisonment. Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation continued to be a problem.”
22. Costa Rica
Population: 4,253,877
Prostitution: Legal
Must be over 18 years old and carry a health card showing how recently they had a medical check-up.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Costa Rica can be hard. And it can be easy. It can be perturbing and paradisiacal. It can be restrictive: No nudity on the beach. And it can be permissive: Prostitution is legal. The country has a split personality and the ironies make the ‘rich coast’ even richer.”
Linton Weeks, “On the Edge in Costa Rica,” Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2004
23. Croatia
Population: 4,489,409
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal but widespread and generally punishable by fines. Women’s organizations claimed that prostitutes faced abuse, stigmatization, and public humiliation. There were reports that women were trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation…
The country is mainly a transit country for women and girls trafficked from countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans to other parts of Europe for prostitution and labor exploitation. The country was also a source and destination country for trafficked women. In December the government reported that seven trafficking victims were identified during the year; three victims were Croatians, three were Bosnians, and one was Serbian. Four of the victims were men trafficked for purposes of labor exploitation, one was a woman also trafficked for purposes of labor exploitation, while three of the victims were women trafficked for sexual exploitation.”
24. Cuba
Population: 11,451,652
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“‘One day when I was down in Brazil, an Argentinian asked me ‘Is it true that some girls who are university graduates sometimes practice prostitution?’ [Fidel] Castro said in a rare public reference to a highly sensitive subject for Cuba’s government. ‘I replied instantly, without thinking, ‘That proves prostitutes in Cuba have a university level,” he added, laughing at the anecdote given during a lengthy speech to close a Cuban workers’ congress in Havana.
The comment underlined both Castro’s pride in his government’s widely praised education system, and his concern for the re-emergence of a prostitution problem he thought his socialist system had eradicated decades ago. Once known as ‘the brothel of the Caribbean’ due to its reputation as a haven for rich Americans looking for sex, gambling and a swinging nightlife, Cuba drastically cleaned up society after Castro’s 1959 revolution. But the problem came back at the start of the 1990s against a backdrop of increased economic hardship for locals, and an opening to tourism which brought foreigners flooding back.”
“Castro Comments on Cuban Prostitution,” Reuters, May 1, 2001
25. Cyprus
Population: 796,740
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Sun-baked Cyprus is the sordid scene of a flourishing trade in young foreign women who are often reduced to sexual slavery, according to non-governmental groups meeting in Nicosia on Friday…
‘Cyprus is a destination country for victims of trafficking, especially for sexual exploitation,’ said Rita Superman, head of the anti-trafficking unit of the Cyprus police. ‘The countries of origin of the victims are traditionally countries of Eastern Europe, such as Moldova and Ukraine. The pattern though is changing lately, since a lot of victims come from developing countries such as the Philippines, Latin America, Morocco and Syria,’ Superman said…
This year alone, Cypriot police have identified 54 victims of sexual exploitation, including 11 on whom force was used to make them work.
For the third year in a row, Cyprus is included on a US state department list of countries where trafficking in women is a concern.”
26. Czech Republic
Population: 10,211,904
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The red lights are going out across Europe as prostitution falls victim to the credit crunch… In the Czech Republic, where prostitution operates in a legal grey zone but is largely tolerated, the sex industry is big business, generating $A760 million, much of it from British visitors, according to Mag Consulting, a tourism research company in Prague that studies the sex industry.
Jaromir Beranek, the director of Mag, said that when Germany and Britain, the two countries that send the most tourists to Prague, began to stagnate, sex tourism was affected too. Brothels have started laying off working girls while the shutters go up on the larger bordellos.
Near the border with Germany, many towns long blighted by a daily influx of sex tourists are pleased at the decline in business. A few years ago, the small Czech town of Dubi was so overrun by prostitution an orphanage was opened to provide refuge for dozens of unwanted babies of prostitutes and their German clients.
Sex could be bought for as little as £3.50 ($7.90). Now 40 brothels in town have shrunk to just four — the others have turned into golf shops or goulash restaurants.”
Allan Hall, “Flaccid Economies Lead to Lay-Offs in Europe’s Brothels,” The Age, Dec. 11, 2008
27. Denmark
Population: 5,500,510
Danish Penal Code(4 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
The act of prostitution was legalized March 17, 1999.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Torben Hansen, who has cerebral palsy, which severely affects his speech and mobility, believes his local authority should pay the extra charge he incurs when he hires a sex worker – because his disability means he cannot go to see them. His case is currently being considered…
In Denmark, local authorities compensate disabled people for extra costs incurred because of their disability….In Denmark, prostitution and other forms of sex work are not illegal so long as it is not a woman’s sole means of income…. ‘It’s unfair to deny people with disabilities the right to a sex life,’ he [Hansen] added.
Kristen Brosboel, a Social Democrat member of the Danish Parliament, is among those who have argued against Mr Hansen. ‘We also spend tax money on trying to prevent prostitution, helping women out of prostitution – and we have a clear policy that this is a social problem that we want to solve…. So I think that’s very much in contradiction with spending tax money on requiring prostitutes.”
“Dane Fights For State-funded Sex,” BBC News, Oct. 5, 2005
28. Dominica
Population: 72,660
Sexual Offences of 1998
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal but was a problem. There were anecdotal reports of trafficking in persons for commercial sexual exploitation…
The DNCW [Dominica National Council of Women] and other activists believed that there may be some trafficking of women for prostitution, but acknowledged it was hard to prove as most of the women in the sex trade were afraid to come forward, fearing deportation. An NGO that interviewed commercial sex workers as part of an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign found that most appeared to have entered the country for economic reasons and began working in prostitution thereafter.”
29. Dominican Republic
Population: 9,650,054
Código Penal de La República Dominicana (607 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is legal, although there are some prohibitions against sex with minors, and it is illegal for a third party to derive financial gain from prostitution. However, the government usually did not enforce prostitution laws. Sex tourism remained a serious problem, particularly in Las Terrenas, Cabarete, Sosua, and Boca Chica. Human rights groups reported continuing prostitution in sugarcane work camps and areas outside the capital. NGOs conducted programs about prostitution and child sexual exploitation for hotel and industrial zone workers, male and female prostitutes, and other high-risk groups.”
30. Ecuador
Population: 14,573,101
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Onwership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is legal for persons over the age of 18 so long as the businesses are registered with the government and follow health regulations. Trafficking in persons for prostitution was a problem…
Traffickers were organized criminal gangs specializing in movement of persons, proprietors of small businesses such as bars or brothels, or illicit employment brokers. Accounts indicated that traffickers’ recruitment modalities varied depending on the type of exploitation. In the case of sexual exploitation, victims were lured romantically or with promises of legitimate employment and then forced into prostitution. Recruiters for forced labor and begging included business owners in and outside the country.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Ecuador,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
“It is important to point out that in Ecuador, prostitution is not prohibited, but pimping is.”
American Bar Association, “Trafficking in Persons: Ecuador,” americanbar.org, Sep-Dec. 2004
31. Egypt
Population: 83,082,869
Prostitution: Illegal
It has been illegal since 1949. The man is considered a witness and is exempt of punishment for testifying against the prostitute. The penalty for prostitutes is 3-36 months in prison and/or a fine.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Egyptian law bans both prostitution and the marriage of girls under 16. ‘Minors in prostitution are sent to a sort of corrective centre, where conditions are often as bad if not worse than they are in adult prisons,’ said Nihad Abul Qumsan, director of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights. ‘The man involved is not usually prosecuted, but rather acts as a witness in a trial.'”
“Minors Sold For Prostitution Under Guise of Marriage,” Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Nov. 16, 2006
32. El Salvador
Population: 7,185,218
Código Penal Salvadoreño (536 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Although prostitution is legal, the law prohibits inducing, facilitating, promoting, giving incentives to a person to work as a prostitute, or paying anyone under the age of 18 for sexual services. Prostitution remained common, and there were credible reports that some women and girls were forced into prostitution.
Trafficking in women and girls for purposes of sexual exploitation was a problem. The attorney general reported that it had investigated approximately 80 cases of sexual exploitation.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: El Salvador,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
33. Estonia
Population: 1,299,371
Estonian Penal Code (423 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“[T]he Minister of Justice Rein Lang of the liberal Estonian Reform Party and the Minister of Social Affairs Jaak Aab of the Estonian Centre Party, have expressed their support for the ban on buying sex…
The general opinion in Estonia does not support the key ministers’ views. According to Helve Kase, Head of the Department of Women’s Studies for the Estonian Institute for Open Society Research, the prostitutes are generally not viewed as victims…. According to the most recent survey from 2003, almost a third of Estonians supported punishing the prostitutes’ clients. Nearly half of the women were in favour of penalizing the prostitutes. More than half of the respondents gave their support to the existing system, which forbids pimping.”
“Estonia Also Considering Criminalisation of Purchase of Sex,” Helsingin Sanomat, Sep. 1, 2006
34. Ethiopia
Population: 85,237,338
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Everyday about 10,000 people pass through the cross-country bus station in the Ethiopian capital to visit relatives, do business or simply search for a better life. According to a recent survey carried out in Addis Ababa, child prostitution is on the rise. The report found that partly because of poverty an increasing number of girls come to the city to become sex workers.”
Damian Zane, “Ethiopian Girls Driven To Prostitution,” BBC News, May 27, 2003
35. Finland
Population: 5,250,275
The Penal Code of Finland (349 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Selling and purchasing sex in public is illegal. Purchasing sex from a victim of trafficking is also illegal.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
The sex trade exploded onto the Finnish scene in the years of the recession of the 1990s. Helsinki had about a dozen erotic restaurants, and personals ads offering company for ‘daytime coffee’. Some even wanted to hire topless barbers.
In the early years of this decade there was intense debate in Finland on whether or not to make buying sex services a crime…
Currently the purchase of sex services in Finland is illegal only in public places. Buying sex is also banned if the trade involves procurement or human trafficking, or if the provider of the service is below the legal age.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) estimates that about 500 prostitutes ply their trade in Finland every day…
Nobody knows how many prostitutes there really are in Finland. However, there is general agreement, that about half of the sex workers who operate regularly in Finland are Finns, and that a majority work part time.
Many foreign prostitutes work with the support, or under the command of a pimp. The Finns usually operate independently…
As the street trade is banned, Finnish red light districts can be found in cyberspace – on sex pages on the Internet and in personals ads. Foreign sex workers also sell their services in night clubs and Thai massage parlours.”
Panu Räty, “Anna Kontula Speaks on Behalf of Sex Workers,” Helsingin Sanomat, Sep. 7, 2008
36. France
Population: 64,057,792
Criminal Law of France (1.1 MB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Must pay taxes. Laws against soliciting in public places.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Regulation and legal “houses of tolerance” ended in 1946.
Pimping: Illegal
Any form of assistance given toward prostitution or living off the earnings of prostitution can be considered criminal.
“French prostitutes have staged a protest outside parliament in Paris against a new crime bill which they say threatens their livelihood. About 500 women and men, some wearing masks and waving banners, took part in the demonstration, which activists said was part of the profession’s biggest protest movement in the city since 1975…. The French Government plans to place a wide-ranging bill before parliament which would include a law making ‘passive soliciting’ – touting for sex by any means, including by use of dress or posture – a criminal offence.
Prostitutes say the law would prevent them from earning income and expose them to dangers from unscrupulous customers or pimps…. [French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy says] the law was necessary to ‘guarantee the security of the French people.’…
Prostitution is legal in France and at the moment the country’s estimated 18,000 prostitutes can only be fined if their activities disturb the peace. But under the proposed law, prostitutes could face six months in prison or a fine of up to $7,500 if convicted under the law.”
“French Prostitutes Rage Against Crime Bill,” BBC News, Nov. 5, 2002
37. Germany
Population: 82,329,758
Measures and Acts on equal opportunities since 1949 (7 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Legalized in 1927.
[Editor’s Note: The date of the legalization of prostitution in Germany is disputed. Some consider prostitution to have been legalized or decriminalized since the passage of the 1927 Law for Combating Venereal Diseases. However, others consider prostitution was legalized through the Prostitution Act of January 2002 that improved the social welfare and legal rights of prostitutes. Although prostitution is legal under the German Constitution, prior to the 2002 Prostitution Act, a series of regulatory laws and court rulings had restricted the legal and social welfare rights of prostitutes because prostitution was considered in violation of Germany’s moral code.]
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Legal
Exploitative behavior considered criminal.
“An estimated 400,000 prostitutes work in Germany, and 1.2 million customers are said to use their services daily. Revenues are estimated at 6 billion euros every year – equivalent to those of companies like Porsche and Adidas.
It was mainly to offer prostitutes protection from violence and exploitation that two years ago – against the opposition of conservative politicians – the German government legalized prostitution. Now, legal contracts between prostitutes and clients can be established. The government withholds a portion of their earnings to pay social benefits like pensions and health insurance and to guarantee a regular 40-hour-workweek. Sex workers can now even unionize. When it comes to taxation and regulation of the industry, legalization has been beneficial in some places, advocates say…
But when it comes to the goal of improving conditions for prostitutes and containing the sex trade, most experts agree that legalizing prostitution has not succeeded. ‘When it was set up there was much talk of securing proper contracts, proper health insurance, but a lot of this hasn’t materialized because of big holes in the legislation,’ says Marion Detlefs of the Hydra prostitute advice center in Berlin. Across the country, no more than a dozen contracts have been signed. Prostitutes, who often have to share their income with brothel owners and other parties, are reluctant to pay taxes…. [A]dvocates for prostitutes complain that – despite the national law – prostitution is still treated differently in each region, giving each city the right to ban prostitution in certain areas.”
Isabelle de Pommereau, “Rethinking a Legal Sex Trade,” Christian Science Monitor, May 11, 2005
38. Greece
Population: 10,737,428
Prostitution: Legal
Prostitutes must be at least 21, register, and have health checks every 2 weeks.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
Covered under Article 349 of the Greek Penal Code.
“Greece, whose ancient civilisation introduced the world to high class prostitutes in the sixth century BC, has at last decided to salute their contribution to society.
Athens has announced that its economy is 25% bigger than thought thanks, in part, to the round-the-clock duties of the country’s prostitutes, who were known as hetairai in ancient times. The Greek authorities are revising the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) after deciding that the black market should be included in the figures.”
Nicholas Watt, “Greek Economy Up 25% – With a Little Help From Prostitutes,” Guardian, Sep. 30, 2006
39. Grenada
Population: 90,739
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal but existed…
The constitution and law do not prohibit trafficking in persons; however, there were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country. In theory trafficking cases could be prosecuted under other laws, such as those prohibiting forced prostitution, pimping, sexual abuse, and abuse of a minor.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Grenada,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
40. Guatemala
Population: 13,276,517
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“In Guatemala City, a new soccer team is winning fans — and it’s not because they are winning games. Members of the Stars of the Tracks team are prostitutes, who hope to use their growing popularity to call attention to their collective fight for a better life.”
“Guatemala City’s Prostitute Soccer Team,” National Public Radio (NPR), Jan. 12, 2005
41. Guyana
Population: 772,298
Laws of Guyana Chapter 8:01 Criminal Offences Act (381 KB)
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal but present. It continued to receive greater public attention due to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS among prostitutes…
Government and NGOs reported only a small number of cases involving trafficking in persons. There were some unconfirmed reports of girls from the interior (where there was little government oversight and law enforcement was lacking) being trafficked for commercial sex to countries in South America and the Caribbean. Most traffickers were believed to be individual business persons.
The trafficking case against two women charged in 2006 with forcing a 12 year old girl into sexual slavery was dismissed in October for lack of evidence.”
42. Haiti
Population: 9,035,536
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Although prostitution is illegal, it remained a widespread practice, particularly among women and girls. Local NGOs reported that police generally ignored prostitution…
The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, although labor legislation and other laws, including those prohibiting and penalizing slavery, kidnapping, and violence against women, could be used to combat human trafficking. There were reports that persons were trafficked from, to, through, and within the country… Women from the Dominican Republic were trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation.”
43. Honduras
Population: 7,792,854
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Although adult prostitution is legal and relatively widespread, the law prohibits promoting or facilitating for purposes of prostitution. Women were trafficked for sexual exploitation and debt bondage… Trafficking in children for commercial sexual exploitation and child prostitution was a problem…
The country was principally a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Women and children were trafficked to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and also internally, most often from rural to urban settings. Most foreign victims trafficked into Honduras came from neighboring countries. During the year the government returned dozens of trafficking victims from Mexico and Guatemala. In the Tegucigalpa metropolitan area, an estimated several hundred children were victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
Gangs, organized crime, and human smugglers were reportedly among the principal traffickers for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. There were reports that families sold their daughters for purposes of trafficking. On February 9, Emilio Fiallos Pina and his wife Dora Rutilia Sauceda Fiallos were arrested for allegedly selling their nine-year-old daughter to attorney Conrado Zelava Castellon for sexual exploitation.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Honduras,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
44. Hungary
Population: 9,905,596
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“In an effort to bring prostitutes into the legal economy, officials said Monday that Hungary will allow sex workers to apply for an entrepreneur’s permit – a move that could generate government revenues from an industry worth an estimated $1 billion annually…
The permits allow prostitutes to give receipts to customers and become part of the legal economy by paying taxes and making social security contributions, said Agnes Foldi, head of the Hungarian Prostitutes’ Interest Protection Association.
Hungary’s sex industry – including prostitution and the production of pornographic materials – generates an estimated $1 billion annually, said Agnes Bakonyi, the spokeswoman of Hungary’s tax authority APEH…
Prostitutes in Hungary, can work legally only within certain zones – distant from schools and churches – and must get regular medical checkups. Pimping and bordellos are banned.”
Pablo Gorondi, “Hungary Gives Permits to Prostitutes,” Washington Post, Sep. 24, 2007
45. Iceland
Population: 306,694
Excerpts including Chapter XXII on Sexual Offences from the General Penal Code of Iceland (142 KB) 
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Selling sexual services is legal. Paying for sexual services is illegal.
In 2007, buying and selling sexual services was legalized as long as third parties did not profit from the earnings of prostitutes. In Apr. 2009 the Icelandic Parliament passed legislation to prohibit paying for prostitution.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“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…
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.”
Centre for Gender Equality, “A New Law Makes Purchasing Sex Illegal in Iceland,” http://www.jafnretti.is, Apr. 21, 2009
46. India
Population: 1,166,079,217
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Prostitution is not a criminal offense, but soliciting prostitution and prostitution in a public place are illegal.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“In the heart of Mumbai, India lies Kamathipura, one of the country’s poorest districts and also its largest red light district, home to more than 60,000 sex workers…
On the streets of Kamathipura, it’s no challenge for Aronson [Frontline Producer] to find sex workers to talk with. In a small gathering she asks them frankly about the core issues of their trade — economics and health. The women get the equivalent of US$1.50 for sex, $2 on a good night, less than a dollar on a bad night. To have sex without a condom, men will often pay more or, after a few visits, tell the women they love them. The women in the group laugh a bit about the men’s proclamations of love, but there’s a tragic fact behind their laughter: more than half of the sex workers here are HIV positive.”
Raney Aronson, “India – The Sex Workers,” PBS’s Frontline, June 2004
47. Indonesia
Population: 240,271,522
Prostitution: Legal
Prostitution is not defined in the law.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Legal
“Prostitution is not specifically addressed in the law. However, many officials interpreted “crimes against decency/morality” to apply to prostitution. Prostitution was widespread and largely tolerated, despite its contradiction with popular societal and religious norms. During the year security forces reportedly participated in operating brothels or protection rackets by shielding brothels from prosecution. International sex tourism reportedly continued, especially on the islands of Batam and Karimun and in major urban centers across the country…
The number of child prostitutes in the country was unclear, but the problem was widespread. Many teenage girls were forced into or found themselves caught in debt bondage. At times law enforcement officials treated child prostitutes as criminals rather than victims. Corrupt civil servants issued identity cards to underage girls, facilitating entry into the sex trade. There also were reports of sexual exploitation of boys. The country was a destination for child sex tourism. During the year NGOs reported that long active pedophile rings continued to operate in Bali. NGO observers said many girls were forced into prostitution after failed marriages entered into when they were 10 to 14 years of age. There was no obvious violation of the law because their paperwork identified them as adults due to the fact that they were once married.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: El Salvador,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
48. Iran
Population: 66,429,284
Prostitution: Illegal
Prostitutes may face prison, lashing, or execution by stoning. Customers also face criminal penalties.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Establishing or managing a place of immorality or prostitution is a criminal act, subject to imprisonment from 1-10 years.
Pimping: Illegal
Living off the income of prostitution is illegal.
“A controversial plan to set up what are being denounced as licensed brothels in Iran has been rejected by official bodies… The idea was that people would sign up at a registration centre, then be referred to a health clinic for medical checks and a free contraceptive service… ‘It’s a euphemism for the official establishment of houses of corruption, the normalisation of illegitimate relations, and the destruction of the family,’ said the Women’s Social and Cultural Council.
The plan was defended by Ashraf Borujerdi, Deputy for Social Affairs at the Interior Ministry, who helped draw it up. ‘Some people believe that talking about such issues is taboo, but they are part of the reality of society, and turning a blind eye will not solve the problem,’ she said… Welfare officials say there are at least 300,000 prostitutes working in the country.
Under Iran’s Islamic system, it is possible to take out a temporary marriage licence – known as Sigheh – even for a few hours. The device is used to cover casual transactions which in many societies would be regarded simply as prostitution.”
“Iran ‘Brothel’ Plan Rejected,” BBC News, July 28, 2002
49. Iraq
Population: 28,945,657
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal. During the year, reports of prostitution increased. According to the NGO Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, some women have resorted to prostitution in order to provide for their children. On June 15, the Kurdish Lvin magazine published a detailed report on police involvement in a major Kirkuk prostitution ring, which routinely bribed government officials with prostitutes. The woman who ran the network asserted that there are over 200 brothels in Kirkuk. The author of the Lvin article, Soran Hama, was killed on July 21. The case remained unsolved at year’s end…
Although reliable statistics did not exist, Iraq was a source and destination country for men and women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Children are trafficked within the country and abroad for commercial sexual exploitation. Women are trafficked within the country, as well as to Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Iran for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Iraq,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
50. Ireland
Population: 4,203,200
Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 (13 KB) 
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993 (30 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Organised crime gangs are setting up foreign language schools to act as a front for prostitution, Fine Gael’s spokesman on immigration and integration Denis Naughten has claimed.
Mr Naughton said bogus schools, established by organised crime groups, were assisting students in obtaining visas by providing the necessary documents.
Members of the Oireachtas were informed during a cross-party briefing on Wednesday ‘that language schools in Dublin are breeding grounds for prostitution. We need urgent action to deal with the proliferation of sex trafficking into Ireland’s €80 million illegal sex industry,’ he said.”
Aoife Carr, “Language Schools Act as Fronts for Brothels – Naughten,” Irish Times, June 19, 2009
51. Israel
Population: 7,233,701
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
Procurement and living on the earnings of a woman in prostitution is prohibited.
“The Supreme Court on Monday rescinded a district court decision that awarded NIS [Israel Shekel] 150,000 in compensation to a disabled man to pay for sexual services. The plaintiff, 31, was seriously injured in a car crash in 1988 as a result of which he was diagnosed as suffering from a mental disorder and erectile dysfunction. His lawyer argued that ever since, his condition has necessitated visits to prostitutes…
Justice Eliezer Rivlin wrote in his decision that the claimant would not be given funds that would be used to violate the law by encouraging prostitution. ‘The proper way of society to deal with prostitution has been subject for contention over many years,’ Rivlin wrote. ‘There are those who see prostitutes as slave laborers and others who claim there are those among them who make a calculated choice to make a living thusly. The difficult questions over prostitution shall not be resolved, here but we cannot ignore the fact that criminal law frowns upon it.'”
Yuval Yoaz, “Court Rescinds Ruling Funding Disabled Man’s Brothel Visits,” Haaretz, Oct. 16, 2006
52. Italy
Population: 58,126,212
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
Procurement and living on the earnings of a woman in prostitution is prohibited.
“Italian prostitutes marched through one of the country’s oldest university towns in protest over new measures to clamp down on soliciting. Bystanders stood opened-mouthed as hundreds of women danced and sang their way in colourful procession through the streets of Padua in protest against a crackdown by the Mayor, which would grant police the power to issue 0 on-the-spot fines to their clients.
The council says targeting clients is its only option, given that prostitution is legal in Italy – despite the ordinarily hard moral line from the Vatican. But the prostitutes have devised a way to counteract the penalties – by issuing pink coupons to their clients promising to refund the fine ‘in kind’. The council claims that prostitution has fallen 70 per cent since the new rules came in last week, but the prostitutes said they have merely moved to quieter areas.”
“Italian Prostitutes Protest at Clampdown,” Marie Claire, May 17, 2007
53. Jamaica
Population: 2,825,928
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Although the law prohibits prostitution, it was widespread, particularly in tourist areas. Trafficking in women for prostitution continued to be a problem…Child prostitution and trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation were problems…
The law does not specifically prohibit forced or compulsory labor, including by children, and there were reports of child prostitution and of children trafficked into domestic servitude and forced labor.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Jamaica,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
54. Japan
Population: 127,078,679
Report on Implementation of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (15 KB) 
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Prostitution is defined as only coitus. Non-coital sex acts are not illegal.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Although the 45-year-old Prostitution Prevention Law prohibits hooking, straight sex has been widely practiced at soaplands, which number around 1,270 nationwide…
The law says that it is prohibited to sell or buy sex, but it does not penalize those acts. Instead, it penalizes prostitutes for soliciting or waiting for customers in public places, such as on the street and in parks. It also penalizes anyone who forces somebody to engage in prostitution, exploits a prostitute or gives financial support to a business engaged in prostitution…
According to the National Police Agency, there were 908 fashion health massage parlors and 5,425 ‘outcall-style’ fashion health parlors that were publicly registered in 2000 under the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses, etc. What protects the operation of the fashion health parlors is simple — they only offer oral sex, anal sex and other sexual services that are not interpreted as sex in the prostitution law…
[In] 2000 1,225 people [were] arrested on suspicion of violating the prostitution law. But that it is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg. Research conducted by Bank of Yokohama on the state of the underground economy in Japan in fiscal 1998 estimated that unreported earnings from commercial and ‘amateur’ prostitution come to around 945 billion yen.”
Hiroshi Matsubara, “Prostitution Testing Bounds of Culture, Business,” Japan Times, Mar. 16, 2002
55. Jordan
Population: 6,342,948
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The country was a destination and transit point for men and women from South and Southeast Asia trafficked for forced labor, as well as a destination for women from Eastern Europe and Morocco for prostitution. Women from countries including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines migrated to work as domestic servants, but some were subjected to conditions of forced labor, such as withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Jordan,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
56. Kenya
Population: 39,002,772
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Whether one likes it or not, prostitution is a “profession” that will not die away; it is here to stay. And with it comes the challenges which hardly allow easy solutions. The trade in Kenya, which is classified under the Penal Code, Sections 147 to 154, is illegal in Kenya and calls for stiff penalty. But even though the law is clear on commercial sex work, regardless of gender and affiliation, the general belief is that it is mostly the women who engage in it and who are arrested by police when caught.”
Mildred Ngesa, “Kenya: What the Law Says About the Oldest ‘Profession’,” Nairobi Nation, May 19, 2007
57. Korea, North
Population: 22,665,345
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“According to press reports, prostitution is illegal; there is no available information on the prevalence of prostitution in the country. There continued to be reports of trafficking in women and young girls who had crossed into China…
Some North Korean women and girls who voluntarily crossed into China were picked up by trafficking rings and sold as brides to Chinese nationals or placed in forced labor. In other cases, North Korean women and girls were lured out of North Korea by the promise of food, jobs, and freedom, only to be forced into prostitution, marriage, or exploitive labor arrangements. A network of smugglers facilitated this trafficking. Many victims of trafficking, unable to speak Chinese, were held as virtual prisoners, and some were forced to work as prostitutes. Traffickers sometimes abused or physically scarred the victims to prevent them from escaping. Officials facilitated trafficking by accepting bribes to allow individuals to cross the border into China.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
58. Korea, South
Population: 48,508,972
Prostitution: Illegal
Illegal since 1948.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Up to 10 years in prison.
Pimping: Illegal
“More than 1,400 people have been caught buying, selling, or brokering sex around the country over the last ten days, the National Police Agency said Thursday.
The agency launched a nationwide crackdown on brothels on April 6 continuing until the end of May.
It apprehended a total of 1,477 people involved in prostitution during the first seven days, taking 14 of them into custody.
Among those were 15 building owners allowing pimps to conduct business there, 814 customers and 369 prostitutes.
More than half, or 820 of those detained were from Seoul and its surrounding areas, 340 from Gyeonggi Province, 268 from Seoul, and 212 from Incheon, the nation’s second largest port city located west of the capital.
The majority of those caught were at brothels disguised as ‘massage clubs,’ the agency said, but 159 were found to have paid for sex from women they met through online chat rooms.
Under the Anti-Prostitution Law, prostitutes and their customers can face up to one year in prison, or a three million won fine, while brokers face up to seven years in prison or 70 million won in fines. Those purchasing or brokering sex with minors face harsher punishment.”
Park Si-soo, “1,400 Nabbed for Prostitution in a Week,” Korea Times, Apr. 16, 2009
59. Kyrgyzstan
Population: 5,431,747
Prostitution: Legal
Prostitution is not a crime but the exact legal status is unclear.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The sex trade is booming in Bishkek, and authorities are struggling to respond. Prostitution is not a crime in Kyrgyzstan, and with no legal measures in place to regulate the industry, overburdened Bishkek police are proposing to either legalize prostitution or, alternatively, outlaw it once and for all.
Bishkek police claim that some 3,500 prostitutes work in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, while unofficial estimates put that number at 1.5 to 2 times higher. Officials claim that sex workers from neighboring countries account for the vast majority of the number, with Kyrgyzstani prostitutes making up a mere 2 to 3 percent of the total. In addition, the capital offers some 169 saunas, 177 hotels and more than 1,000 private apartments with sexual services, police say.
Prostitution is not a crime in Kyrgyzstan, and prostitutes say that popular attitudes toward their work are more understanding than in neighboring Uzbekistan. But that welcome has its limits. Violent crimes involving prostitutes such as murders or assaults are on the increase. With less than adequate control over migration streams into Kyrgyzstan, police fear that cycle of violence could only worsen.”
Abdan Shukeev, “Bishkek Battles Going Bawdy,” EurasiaNet, Jan. 10, 2005
60. Latvia
Population: 2,231,503
Latvia Regulations(6 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Requires monthly health check.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“A Swedish documentary on Latvian sex workers snowballed into a major controversy in Riga this week, drawing harsh remarks from top government officials and ministries, which are considering lawsuits against the director.
Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga called ‘Buy Bye Beauty’ by Pål Hollander ‘political propaganda’ that didn’t meet standards of objectivity. Hollander’s movie, recently shown at the Gothenburg Film Festival, depicted a gloomy picture of the sex industry in Latvia. Hollander interviewed a number of people involved with the Latvian pornography industry while making the film, many of them prostitutes. Based on his interviews, the filmmaker claimed there are about 18,000 prostitutes in Latvia. According to official statistics, there are 2500 to 3000 prostitutes in the country. Hollander also claimed that about 50 percent of Latvian women have had sex for money.”
Ieva RaubiÅ¡ko, “Sex Industry Sparks Controversy,” Central Europe Review, Feb. 19, 2001
61. Liberia
Population: 3,441,790
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The first woman to be appointed Director of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Col. Beatrice Munah Sieh, says her administration will eradicate the high level of prostitution and corruption in Liberia.”
M. Welemongia Ciapha, II, “Police Boss Vows To Fight Prostitution,” Liberian Observer, Apr. 13, 2006
62. Lithuania
Population: 3,555,179
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal but remained a problem. The penalty is a fine of 300 to 500 litas (approximately $124 to $207) for a single offense and up to 1,000 litas ($415) for repeat offenses. In the first eight months of the year, police charged 72 women with administrative violations for prostitution…
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however, there were reports that women and children were trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficked women and girls in forced prostitution worked on streets, in illegal brothels, or as call girls.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Lithuania,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
63. Luxembourg
Population: 491,775
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is legal and was common, but the activities associated with organized prostitution, such as profiting from, aiding, or trafficking prostitutes are punishable by law…
The country is a destination for women trafficked transnationally for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Source countries during the year primarily included Romania and Ukraine. During the year the government identified nine victims of trafficking. At year’s end authorities were prosecuting one perpetrator for trafficking, and had tried and convicted nine others for procuring prostitution and human trafficking.”
64. Malaysia
Population: 25,715,819
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Prostitution is not a criminal offense, but soliciting prostitution is illegal.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“From 2008 until Mar 15, police saved 39 foreigners aged between 18 to 25-year-old, who had been forced into prostitution by their agents…
They were among the 12,070 prostitutes nabbed throughout the country in 2008. Out of that number, 8,949 were foreigners – China (4,496), Indonesia (1,389), Thailand (1049), Philippines (1,090) and Vietnam (512).
And from January to March 15, police arrested 2,878 prostitutes, out of which 2,144 were foreigners – China (1,030), Indonesia (387), Thailand (237), Vietnam (222) and the Philippines (188).
In most of the cases, victims were locked in a room after being brought into the country and forced into prostitution…
There is a new department to handle human trafficking cases known as the Anti-Trafficking In Person (ATIP) which was set up early last year.”
65. Malta
Population: 405,165
Criminal Code of Malta (1.4 MB) 
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The law prohibits prostitution, and the government effectively enforced it. The law provides for sentences of several months to two years in prison. From January through June, the police arraigned 27 persons on 49 charges (counting repeat arrests) for offences related to prostitution. There were a number of prosecutions during the year…
The country is a destination for women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. On July 6 authorities charged three men with forcing a Swedish woman into prostitution. According to police, two separate investigations in 2007 led to the arrest of seven persons for the trafficking of eight Russian and Ukrainian women for the purpose of sexual exploitation. There was also anecdotal evidence that women from Serbia, Romania, and other eastern European countries may have been trafficked to the country for forced prostitution.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Malta,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
66. Mexico
Population: 111,211,789
Prostitution: Legal
Prostitution is decriminalized and regulated at the state level. Where regulated they must be at least 18, registered, pay for and receive health checks, and carry their health card. It cannot be in public though many cities have a red light district or “zona roja.”
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The testing is one of the measures that this city [Tijuana] has taken to regulate prostitution, which has flourished here for decades. The city council passed a law in June that requires the town’s active prostitutes – 5,000 are currently being tested each month – to have monthly medical exams for sexually transmitted diseases and forces brothel owners to adopt more sanitary practices. Those who do not face stiff fines and the loss of their business licenses.
One measure of the magnitude of the problem health officials face is that more than 8,000 women and men who have registered as prostitutes since the system began have stopped coming to the city clinic, Dr. Mayor Noriega said. It is unclear how many left the business and how many simply decided not to pay for the tests any more.”
James C. McKinley Jr., “A New Law in Tijuana Regulates the Oldest Profession,” New York Times, Dec. 13, 2005
67. Netherlands
Population: 16,715,999
Dutch Policy on Prostitution (34 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Officially legal since Oct. 2000. Prostitutes must be over 18 and clients must be over 16. Prostitutes must register and pay taxes.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Subject to licensing and zoning requirements.
Pimping: Legal
Living off income from a prostitute is legal if it doesn’t involve coercion.
“One third of the famous ‘window’ brothels and sex clubs of Amsterdam are facing closure after the city council recently refused to renew 33 licences in a crackdown against organised crime…
The Christian Democrat CDA and the ChristenUnie (CU) parties – both of which are expected to form part of the new governing coalition – want even tougher measures, including the prosecution of men who frequent prostitutes who are working against their will…
But others, such as Petra Timmermans from the International Committee on the rights of Sex Workers in Europe, said the Dutch were experiencing outside pressure from countries that did not understand their traditions. ‘The Netherlands has decided to do things differently so it is under tremendous pressure from neighbouring countries to re-evaluate its position,’ she said. ‘People look at the Netherlands and say it is a failed experiment because not every sex worker is a millionairess.'”
Nicola Smith, “Amsterdam Cleans Ip Its Act,” Expactica.com, Jan. 10, 2007
68. New Zealand
Population: 4,213,418
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Prostitution Law Reform (64 KB) 
International Approaches to Decriminalising or Legalising Prostitution (117 KB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Since 2003 prostitution has been decriminalized. It is legal for citizens over 18 years old.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Owners must be over 18 years old, a citizen of New Zealand or Australia, and have an Operator’s Certificate. Only applicants with serious criminal convictions will be denied.
Pimping: Legal
No laws against living off the avails of prostitution.
“Parliament tonight passed prostitution law changes when MPs voted 60-59 in favour of a bill which raised passionate debate and drew the strongest opposition from moral conservatives since homosexual law reform 17 years ago.
Labour MP Tim Barnett’s Prostitution Reform Bill will become law after nearly three years of scrutiny, 415 hours of debate by Parliament and its committees and 222 public submissions.
It decriminalises prostitution and establishes a legal framework around the sex industry, with licensed brothels operating under public health and employment laws.”
69. Nicaragua
Population: 5,891,199
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Legal
“Prostitution, which is legal for persons 14 years of age and older, was common, although the law prohibits its promotion, including procurement. In Managua most prostitutes worked on the streets, in nightclubs and bars, or in massage parlors. The law imposes a penalty of five to seven years’ imprisonment for convicted sex tourism offenders. The NNP reported no cases of sex tourism during the year…
Child prostitution remained a problem. The law permits juveniles 14 years of age or older to engage in prostitution. The country was a destination for child sex tourism, primarily in Granada and Managua; however, there were no reported cases during the year.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Nicaragua,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
70. Norway
Population: 4,660,539
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Selling sexual services is legal. Purchasing sex is illegal.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“A new law has come into force in Norway making the purchase of sex illegal.
Norwegian citizens caught paying for prostitutes at home or abroad could face a hefty fine or a six-month prison sentence, authorities say.
The prison sentence could be extended to three years in cases of child prostitution.
The Norwegian authorities say they want to stamp out sex tourism and street prostitution by targeting clients rather than prostitutes…
The tough new measures go further than similar ones introduced by other Nordic countries such as Sweden and Finland.
Norwegian police have been authorised to use wire-tapping devices to gather evidence.
There has already been a visible decrease in women working on the streets of central Oslo, local media report.
Prostitutes will be offered access to free education and health treatment for those with alcohol or drugs problems.”
BBC News, “New Norway Law Bans Buying of Sex,” http://www.news.bbc.co.uk, Jan. 1, 2009
71. Panama
Population: 3,360,474
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Although prostitution is legal and regulated, with prostitutes required to register and carry identification cards, the majority of prostitutes were not registered. Although 2,650 sex workers were registered with the government, there was no accurate information regarding the number of persons practicing prostitution in the country. Trafficking in women was a problem…
Although the law prohibits trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation, persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country. The PNP Sex Crimes Unit reported that most victims trafficked into the country came from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Central America. The primary destinations for victims trafficked from the country were Jamaica and Europe. Most victims trafficked within the country were women and children trafficked into the sex trade. The PNP Sex Crimes Unit reported that the vast majority of trafficking victims were women older than 18 years.
The principal traffickers in the country were owners of houses of prostitution, and most transnational trafficking occurred using valid travel documents and was conducted through official ports of entry.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Panama,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
72. Paraguay
Population: 6,995,655
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is legal for persons over the age of 18, and exploitation and trafficking of women, particularly underage prostitutes, remained serious problems… Sexual exploitation of children, principally in prostitution, was a serious problem. According to the SNNA, many underage children were forced to work as prostitutes or domestic servants for survival and were sexually abused…
In March a 15-year-old trafficking victim who escaped from a brothel in Buenos Aires fled to Ciudad del Este, where she filed a complaint with the SNNA. Based on her complaint, Argentine and Paraguayan authorities rescued 25 girls from the brothel. Charges remained pending. During the year prosecutors opened an investigation into a syndicate that trafficked dozens of adolescent girls to Chile.”
73. Peru
Population: 29,546,963
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Peruvian sex workers urged the government on Friday to regulate their profession, saying it would protect them from violence and help stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Although prostitution is legal in Peru and in much of Latin America, sex workers said prostitutes should be allowed to work under license in ‘tolerance zones.’ To get and keep a license they would have to register with the government, submit to regular health checks and pay taxes.
‘People have to understand that it’s not simply about a whore standing on a street corner, it’s a woman, a lady who’s working,’ said Angela Villon, president of the Civil Association of Sex Workers, at a news conference…
According to the health ministry, there are around 60,000 sex workers in Peru, 14,000 of them in the capital Lima, although Villon said she believed the true figures were higher.”
Gideon Long, “Sex Workers Urge Peru to Regulate Prostitution,” Reuters, May 18, 2007
74. Philippines
Population: 97,976,603
Prostitution: Illegal
“Bar girls” must register and have health checks.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“‘Hey, Joe,’ they shout at passing men, much the way another generation of prostitutes once shouted to ‘GI Joes’ at the former Clark Air Force Base across the street from the red-light district. Neon lights, strip joints, ‘girlie’ bars and 1950s-style hotels jam together as pop music blares from the clubs. For more than 100 years, this area has been a capital of prostitution and hedonism, dating back to a time when the women were called ‘camp followers.’…
Nursing and teaching, more traditional women’s work in the Philippines, pay a fraction of the sums these women can make. That is, if their pimps allow them to keep their money. A University of the Philippines study in the late 1990s estimated there were about a half-million prostitutes in the country.”
Mike Comerford, “A Look at Life in the Red-light District,” Daily Herald, Apr. 17, 2005
75. Poland
Population: 38,482,919
Trafficking in Human Beings in Poland Report by the Polish Ministry of Interior and Administration, 2008 (1 MB) 
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“According to police, there were an estimated 3,200 prostitutes in the country; however, NGOs estimated that the number of women in all elements of the sex industry was significantly higher, from 18,000-20,000. Women were trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation…
While prostitution is not criminalized, pimping, recruiting, or luring persons into prostitution carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison… In 2007, according to the Ministry of Justice, 70 traffickers were convicted for forced prostitution and trafficking, compared to 16 convictions in 2006 strictly for trafficking.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Poland,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
76. Portugal
Population: 10,707,924
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution in Quarteira has been steadily rising over the past years, mainly due to the influx of immigrant women from Eastern Europe, Brazil and Africa. At the moment there are 80 street prostitutes in Quarteira, according to AIDS Support Movement…
They sell their services for as little as €20 and many times must settle for less as the interested parties haggle and the harsh competition forces them to accept the cheaper price.
Their clientele is extremely varied; labourers, doctors, lawyers, tourists, students and even the elderly drive down the street at an idle speed to satisfy their urge, explained the psychologist who has been helping women protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases for the past seven years.
The AIDS Support Movement distributes condoms and information pamphlets teaching prostitutes how to put on a condom even if the client does not want to use one…
In 2007 there were 80 prostitutes working in Quarteira, 78 women and two transsexuals, 65% of them were foreign.”
“Quarteira Protesting Prostitution,” Portugal News, Aug. 30, 2008
77. Romania
Population: 22,215,421
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Romanian authorities are planning to legalize prostitution as a way to help fight human trafficking and sex slavery, police said on September, 1st. Selling sexual favors is now a crime punishable by fines or up to three years in prison in Romania. However, because the crime is considered petty, most prostitutes only face fines, with some prostitutes collecting over 500 fines in the last two years, Bucharest police said. The fines are rarely paid, and tax collection authorities cannot enforce them as most prostitutes have no legal income… Pimps face up to seven years in prison, or up to 20 years if they traffic minors, but despite efforts by law enforcement sex trafficking remains widespread.”
“Romanian Authorities Consider Plan to Legalize Prostitution,” Associated Press (AP), Sep. 6, 2006
78. Rwanda
Population: 10,473,282
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“President Paul Kagame yesterday warned that the government would not tolerate prostitution in Rwanda. Addressing thousands that thronged Amahoro National Stadium to commemorate the 30th International Women’s Day, the President castigated prostitution as an illicit act that should never be defined as part of the country’s development agenda. ‘I received reports from the Mayor of Kigali recently that some women and girls were arguing that it (prostitution) is a sign of development,’ Kagame said. ‘It is not part of Rwanda’s path to development and, therefore, must stop.’…
‘It (prostitution) cannot be classified anywhere in the country’s development indicators. It is a menace that ought to be stopped immediately because we have our own morals and cultural values that have to be preserved and protected,’ Kagame stressed.”
Robert Mukombozi, “Rwanda: Govt Toughens On Prostitution,” New Times, Mar. 9, 2007
79. Saint Kitts and Nevis
Population: 40,131
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal and was not considered a problem…
In August parliament passed laws criminalizing trafficking in persons that include all elements of the offense, such as withholding identification or travel documents of a person and controlling and restricting the movement of a person. There were no confirmed reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Saint Kitts and Nevis,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
80. Saint Lucia
Population: 160,267
Criminal Code 2003(1 MB)
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal, but it was a growing problem. Some underground strip clubs were fronts for prostitution and reportedly were owned by corrupt police officers. There were no arrests for prostitution during the year…
There were reports that some women from Saint Lucia were trafficked to Saint Marten and Barbados, and that women from the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and some Eastern European countries were trafficked to Saint Lucia, where they worked at strip clubs and brothels. There were reports that police owned many of these clubs, particularly in Rodney Bay, and that women who fled the brothels were sometimes returned to them by police.”
81. Saint Vincent and Grenadines
Population: 104,574
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Although prostitution is illegal, a local human rights group reported that it remained a problem among young women and teenagers.”
82. Saudi Arabia
Population: 28,686,633
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Saudi police have arrested more than 80 people involved in 20 cases of prostitution and pimping this year, including some seized in the past 24 hours, Al Riyadh newspaper reported Friday. Some of those rounded up were foreign domestic workers who had fled their employers, the paper said.
Among the pimps arrested Thursday were an Egyptian and a Syrian, along with several Indonesian prostitutes caught in the act, the paper said. One girl, arrested earlier, told a newspaper that she had been ‘led astray, into error, by the devil to devote herself to vice, for 1,500 [Saudi] riyals [about $400] a night.’
Prostitution is strictly banned in Saudi Arabia, which applies Sharia (Islamic law), and is punishable by prison and flogging.”
83. Senegal
Population: 13,711,597
Prostitution: Legal
Prostitution has been legal since 1969. Must be at least 21 years of age, register with the police, carry a valid sanitary card, and test negative for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Free condoms are provided beginning at the first visit to the clinic and are renewed monthly.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
Soliciting or living off the earnings of prostitution is prohibited.
“Prostitution was legalized in this predominantly Muslim country in 1969, and today the government tolerates it as long as each prostitute registers with the state, is over 21 years old, and comes regularly to a center run by the Ministry of Health for checkups, education, and medical treatment. And that’s a big reason why this West African nation of 10.5 million, according to the World Health Organization, has an HIV infection rate of about two percent while many of its nearest neighbors face rates several times higher; some Southern African countries, such as Botswana, report that a mind-boggling 39 percent or more of the adult population is infected.”
Nicholas Thompson, “The Network Effect,” Boston Globe, Jan. 5, 2003
84. Singapore
Population: 4,657,542
Prostitution: Legal
Legal red-light districts, mandatory health checks, and must be 18 years or older.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Singapore may raise the minimum age for prostitutes from 16 to 18 [which it did] to bring its laws in line with international standards, a newspaper report said Tuesday, Oct 4. A government study into the penal code’s provisions on sexual offences is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the Straits Times newspaper reported. Local authorities, while declining to provide specific reasons behind the study, said it was part of a ‘holistic review’ of Singapore’s laws on sexual offences and may include criminalizing sex with minors overseas.
‘We constantly review our laws to keep abreast of changing times and norms,’ the Straits Times quoted a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman as saying. Under current laws, having sex with girls under 16 is considered statutory rape, punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of S$10,000 (US$5900)…
Prostitution is legal in Singapore but pimping and public solicitation are not. Licensed brothels operate in designated areas.”
85. Slovakia
Population: 5,463,046
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is legal, but related activities, such as operating brothels, knowingly spreading sexually transmitted diseases, or trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation, are prohibited. There was no reliable data on the extent of prostitution…
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that between 150 and 200 persons were trafficked from or through the country during 2007, mainly for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. There were isolated reports that children were forced into prostitution…
In February 2007 police uncovered a trafficking ring organized by Slovak and Slovenian citizens that recruited young Slovak women to work legally in Croatia, and then forced them to work as prostitutes in Slovenia.”
86. Slovenia
Population: 2,005,692
Slovenian Penal Code
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal, but the government did not actively enforce this prohibition. Antitrafficking authorities and NGOs informally estimated that as many as 80 bars and clubs across the country could be engaged in facilitating or promoting prostitution…
The government apprehended, investigated, and prosecuted traffickers; police investigated nine instances of human trafficking and seven instances of forced prostitution.”
87. South Africa
Population: 49,052,489
South Africa v. Jordan and others – Summary of Judgment (5 KB) 
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“South Africa’s Constitutional Court Wednesday upheld the country’s Sexual Offences Act, which classifies prostitution as an illegal profession. Six of the country’s top 11 judges favoured retaining and enforcing the Act, which also prohibited the keeping of brothels. The news has been met with dismay by Cape Town’s tourism chiefs who wanted the city’s sex industry regulated and turned into a major attraction to the city.”
88. Spain
Population: 40,525,002
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Prostitution is not a crime but the exact legal status is unclear.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal in some regions
Pimping: Illegal
“Is prostitution a form of violence and exploitation of women, which should be banned, or a job like any other, which should be regulated? The question has divided Europe, with Sweden trying to eradicate prostitution by penalizing the clients, while others such as the Netherlands have legalized the trade. For Spanish legislators, however, prostitution proved too tough a nut to crack.
After nearly three years of debate, a parliamentary commission advising the government threw in the towel, rejecting both of the proposed approaches and simply leaving prostitution where it was: a shady zone where it is neither legal nor illegal…
Its incapacity to adopt a clear policy angered both the main camps: women’s rights activists regarding prostitution as a form of slavery, incompatible with democratic values, and prostitutes’ associations saying sex workers needed legal rights to protect themselves.
Spain has been dubbed the ‘brothel of Europe,’ with up to 500,000 women working as prostitutes. Every day, 1.5 million men buy sex in Spain, said Maribel Montano of the governing Socialist Party (PSOE). The trade, which is plied in places ranging from parks and flats to roadside brothels, turns over an estimated 40 billion euros (54 billion dollars) annually, almost the equivalent of Spain’s education budget.”
Sinikka Tarvainen, “Spain Divided Over Semi-Legal Prostitution,” German Press Agency, May 8, 2007
89. Suriname
Population: 481,267
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Although the law prohibits sexual exploitation, including prostitution, in practice prostitution was tolerated. Concerns about the link between prostitution and trafficking in persons resulted in police raids on brothels and arrests of several prostitutes. Poverty continued to put young women at risk of becoming exploited for commercial sex. The presence of large groups of illegal workers in the gold mining sector in the interior drew young Maroon women and girls into commercial sexual exploitation. Police allowed many brothels to operate but made bimonthly checks on these establishments to monitor if women were being abused, held against their will, or having their passports retained by brothel owners to ensure fulfillment of work contract obligations.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Suriname,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
90. Sweden
Population: 9,059,651
Swedish Penal Code 
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Since 1999 selling sex is not a crime but the buying of sex is. Buyers face fines and up to 6 months in prison.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Punishment includes up to 4 years in prison.
Pimping: Illegal
“In Sweden, prostitution is officially acknowledged as a form of male sexual violence against women and children. One of the cornerstones of Swedish policies against prostitution and trafficking in human beings is the focus on the root cause, the recognition that without men’s demand for and use of women and girls for sexual exploitation, the global prostitution industry would not be able flourish and expand.”
91. Switzerland
Population: 7,604,467
Prostitution: Legal
Prostitutes must register with city authorities and health authorities and get regular health checks.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Legalized in 1992.
Pimping: Illegal
“Switzerland entered a treaty with the European Union to import workers, seeking more bankers, managers, and academics. What it got was an influx of prostitutes…
Prostitution is legal in Switzerland, and its residents have the world’s highest purchasing power, according to a study published in December by UBS AG. Prostitutes from the European Union don’t need a work permit for the first three months of residence and can offer their services as self-employed workers, provided they register with police and comply with tax laws.
The lack of restrictions, combined with the country’s wealth, has pushed the number of prostitutes per capita in Zurich to the highest among industrialized countries, a city employee heading a project for improvement of the Langstrasse area, Zurich’s red-light district, Rolf Vieli, said. Based on police figures, Zurich has about 11 prostitutes per 1,000 people, similar to the rate in Amsterdam, known for its sex trade.”
Antonio Ligi, “E.U. Treaty Spurs Influx of Prostitutes to Zurich,” Bloomberg News, Mar. 6, 2007
92. Thailand
Population: 65,905,410
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution was made illegal in 1928, and the laws against it strengthened in 1960. But it is an omnipresent part of the Thai society, tacitly accepted and tolerated. Prostitution goes on in brothels in the countryside, behind the garish signs over Bangkok’s girlie bars and massage parlors. The industry is estimated to account for an estimated 3 percent of Thailand’s economy, or about US$4.3 billion a year.”
93. Trinidad and Tobago
Population: 1,229,953
Sexual Offences Act 1986 (106 KB)
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is illegal, and the authorities continued to monitor, investigate, and prosecute major operators believed to be engaged in soliciting for prostitution. On January 20, police arrested 42 women involved in a prostitution ring, many of whom had entered the country illegally. The authorities deported many of them…
The Sexual Offenses Act prohibits procurement of a person for the purpose of sexual intercourse with another person, and procuring a person to become an inmate of a brothel or to frequent a brothel.”
US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2008 Human Rights Report: Trinidad and Tobago,” http://www.state.gov, Feb. 25, 2009
94. Turkey
Population: 76,805,524
Prostitution: Legal
Requires registering and attending clinics for regular examinations. Must carry identity card indicating the dates of his or her health checks. Health checks can be as often as twice a week. Sexworkers cannot be married and their children are barred from occupying high rank in the army or police, or marrying persons of such rank, although they can work in other areas of government service.
Brothel Ownership:Limited Legality
Official brothels in Turkey are state-run. The Turkish penal code states that it is illegal to shelter a person for prostitution.
Pimping:Illegal
“[A] special unit in the Prime Ministry’s Human Rights Department will begin a project aimed at giving prostitutes the opportunity to find alternative employment, the daily Aksam reported Sunday.
Sociologists and psychologists interviewed 3,000 registered prostitutes working at brothels to determine whether they have been forced into the job and whether they would prefer another line of employment.
There are 15,000 registered prostitutes in Turkey, 3,000 of whom work in 56 brothels. There are an estimated 100,000 unregistered prostitutes in the country.”
95. Uganda
Population: 32,369,558
Prostitution: Illegal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“The Penal Code Act Cap 120, for instance, holds any person involved in prostitution criminally liable for the offence even though that person is forced to do so against his or her will.
The Immigration Act also prohibits entry of a prostitute, or a person prior to entering Uganda was living on the earnings of prostitution and punishes any person who becomes employed in Uganda without entry permit. In this case many young girls and women who are trafficked into prostitution or forced to enter Uganda illegally are guilty of such offences. They are further punished by the law. They are at a risk of being imprisoned, fined, deported and re-trafficked if found guilty in the existing laws. There are also no legal provisions that entitle Victims of trafficking in humans to rehabilitation despite the grave physical assaults, sexual abuses, and psychological trauma they experience in the due process.”
“Uganda: Punished Because There is No Law to Protect Them,” [Kampala] Daily Monitor, May 30, 2007
96. United Arab Emirates
Population: 4,798,491
Prostitution: Illegal
The sharia courts sentence lashings followed by imprisonment.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Dubai’s Cyclone night club is a typical example of the U.A.E.’s flourishing international sex trade. The massive club, owned by an Indian based in London, is known by visitors as the ‘United Nations of prostitution.’ On an average night, visitors say, there are possibly as many as 500 prostitutes from as many as two dozen countries — including Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Russia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
But Cyclone is hardly the only place in Dubai providing work for prostitutes. You can find them at almost every five-star hotel in the emirate, or even on the streets.”
97. United Kingdom
Population: 61,113,205
Sexual Offences Act 2003
Sexual Offences Act 1985 
Sexual Offences Act 1956 
Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982
Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 
Prostitution (Public Places) (Scotland) Act 2007 
Prostitution: Legal
“Persistent” solicitation in public places is illegal. Kerb crawling is illegal.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
Pimping law defined as “controlling prostitution for gain.”
“New laws making it a criminal offence to have sex with prostitutes controlled by pimps may be too complex to work in practice, police have warned.
The legislation, which is due to come into effect later this year, aims to protect women forced into the trade.
Gloucestershire Chief Constable Dr Tim Brain said he feared the complexity of the law may make gaining evidence hard…
The government’s planned change to the law in England and Wales aims to protect women forced into the trade by traffickers and pimps.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith launched the new legislation with an unequivocal message, saying ‘there will be no more excuses for those who pay for sex’.
At present it is not illegal to pay for sex. Under the new legislation a man will face prosecution if he pays for sex with a woman who is being ‘controlled for gain’ by someone else…
The Home Office says more than 160 victims of sex trafficking were rescued by police in a six-month period last year.
The bill also includes tougher controls on kerb crawlers.”
98. United States
Population: 307,212,123
US federal, state, and Nevada county laws concerning prostitution
Prostitution: Limited Legality
Illegal except for 11 rural counties in Nevada, where registration and health checks are required.
Indoor prostitution became legal in Rhode Island in 1980 due to an unintentional legal loophole created by legislators. The state enacted new legislation closing the loophole on Nov. 3, 2009.
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Illegal except for 11 rural counties in Nevada.
Pimping: Illegal
“State attempts to regulate prostitution by introducing medical check-ups or licenses don’t address the core problem: the routine abuse and violence that form the prostitution experience and brutally victimize those caught in its netherworld.”
99. Uruguay
Population: 3,494,382
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Illegal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is legal for persons over the age of 18 and was practiced openly in major cities and tourist resorts. There were no known reports of police abuse of individuals engaging in prostitution. Trafficking in women for prostitution occurred…
Some minors engaged in prostitution and forced labor. INAU found that they often did so at the request of their families to increase income. The media reported three cases of minors engaged in prostitution with the consent of their parents in the provinces of Tacuarembo, Rocha, and Paysandu…
Most victims were women, girls, and some boys trafficked within the country to border and tourist areas for sexual exploitation. Through use of false job offers, some women were trafficked to Spain and Italy for commercial sexual exploitation.”
100. Venezuela
Population: 26,814,843
Prostitution: Legal
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Pimping: Illegal
“Prostitution is legal. While there was no government information on the extent of prostitution, the local anti-trafficking NGO Association of Women for Welfare and Mutual Help noted that prostitution was a serious problem, particularly in Caracas and domestic tourist destinations…
The law prohibits inducing the prostitution and corruption of minors. Penalties range from three to 18 months in prison and up to four years in prison if the minor is younger than 12 years old. If the crime is committed repeatedly or for profit, it is punishable by three to six years’ imprisonment. Prison sentences for inducing a minor into prostitution are increased by up to five years if various aggravating circumstances occur. Penalties for several crimes relating to child prostitution do not apply if the perpetrator marries the victim. The production and sale of child pornography is prohibited, and the law establishes penalties of 16 to 20 years’ imprisonment for this crime.”
“Prostitution is legal in Venezuela. The Criminal Code prohibits inducing the prostitution or corruption of minors… It is also a crime to induce, facilitate, or promote prostitution or corruption of another person to satisfy the passions of others… The code prohibits a husband or other relative from forcing a wife or female descendent to prostitute herself.”
Saratov Center, “Venezuela,” sartraccc.ru (accessed May 18, 2016)
“Legislation on prostitution in Venezuela aims to regulate rather than outlaw the commercial sex industry and the operation of these brothels is legal, providing that the women working in them are over the age of 18 and undergo regular health checks.”
Country Population:
July 2009 Estimate*
Related government document
Legal Status of Prostitution, Brothel Ownership, and Pimping