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Prostitution by country

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Prostitution by country

  Prostitution is legal and regulated
  Prostitution is legal but organized activities such as brothels are illegal
  Prostitution illegal
  No data

The laws on prostitution vary considerably around the world. They can vary from total prohibition of both the sale and purchase of sexual services, bans on either, regulation to varying extent of some or all aspects, to minimal regulation or restriction of any activity. Even when the sale or purchase is legal, prohibiting some or all of the activities necessary to work such as communicating between worker and client (soliciting), working from premises (brothel or bawdy-house), and involvement of third parties (managers, drivers, security) produces a de facto prohibition.

In practice neither capital punishment, incarceration, nor remedial training have had any appreciable effect on the trade. The issue of prostitution as a whole is socially and politically divisive, and difficult to form a consensus on. In North Korea, Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, prostitution is a crime punishable by death.


  Prostitution legal and regulated
  Prostitution (the exchange of sex for money) legal, but brothels are illegal; prostitution is not regulated
  Prostitution illegal
  No data

Prostitution is illegal in the majority of African countries. Nevertheless, it is common, driven by the widespread poverty in many sub-Saharan African countries,[1] and is one of the drivers for the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Africa.[2] Social breakdown and poverty caused by civil war in several African countries has caused further increases in the rate of prostitution in those countries. For these reasons, some African countries have also become destinations for sex tourism.

AIDS infection rates are particularly high among African sex workers.[3] Long distance truck drivers have been identified as a group with the high-risk behaviour of sleeping with prostitutes and a tendency to spread the infection along trade routes in the region. Infection rates of up to 33% were observed in this group in the late 1980s in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

In Gambia, prostitution is illegal, The majority of women prostitutes are foreigners.


  Prostitution legal and regulated
  Prostitution (the exchange of sex for money) legal, but brothels are illegal; prostitution is not regulated
  Prostitution illegal
  No data

In Asia, the main characteristic of the region is the very big discrepancy between the laws which exist on the books and what occurs in practice. For example, in Thailand prostitution is illegal,[4] but in practice it is tolerated and partly regulated, and the country is a destination for sex tourism. Such situations are common in many Asian countries.

In Japan, everything but penis in vagina is legal[5] and there are ads that detail what each individual prostitute will do (oral sex, anal sex, etc.), although many of them ignore the law. See Prostitution in Japan.

Child prostitution is a serious problem in this region. Past surveys indicate that 30 to 35 percent of all prostitutes in the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia are between 12 and 17 years of age.[6]


  Prostitution legal and regulated
  Prostitution (the exchange of sex for money) legal, but brothels are illegal; prostitution is not regulated
  Prostitution fully illegal
  Illegal to pay for sex. Client commits a crime. Prostitute commits no crime
  No data

The most common legal system in the European Union is that which allows prostitution itself (the exchange of sex for money) but prohibits associated activities (brothels, pimping, etc.).

In Sweden, Norway and Iceland it is illegal to pay for sex (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute).

In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to pay for sex with a prostitute who has been "subjected to force" and this is a strict liability offence (clients can be prosecuted even if they did not know the prostitute was forced), but prostitution itself is legal.[7][8]

In Germany prostitution is legal.

The enforcement of the anti-prostitution laws varies by country. One example is Belgium, in which brothels are illegal, but in practice, they are tolerated, operate quite openly, and in some parts of the country, the situation is similar of that in neighboring Netherlands.

Prostitution is illegal in most of the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe. Here, prostitution was outlawed by the former communist regimes, and those countries chose to keep it illegal even after the fall of the Communists. In Hungary and Latvia however, prostitution is legal and regulated.

North America

  Prostitution legal and regulated
  Prostitution (the exchange of sex for money) legal; prostitution is not regulated
  Prostitution illegal (except in some rural counties of the US state of Nevada)
  No data

United States

Prostitution laws in the United States are determined at the state level. The practice is illegal in all but one of its 50 states and is illegal in all US Territories.

Nevada is the only U.S. Jurisdiction which allows some legal prostitution in some of its counties. Currently 8 out of Nevada's 16 counties have active brothels. Prostitution outside these brothels is illegal throughout the state; prostitution is illegal in the major metropolitan areas (Las Vegas, Reno, and Carson City). Prostitution is heavily regulated by the state of Nevada. See Prostitution in Nevada.

South America

  Prostitution legal and regulated
  Prostitution (the exchange of sex for money) legal, but brothels are illegal; prostitution is not regulated
  Prostitution illegal
  No data



  1. ^ Increasing prostitution driven by poverty in drought-stricken – Welthungerhilfe. Retrieved on 2012-01-11.
  2. ^ Sex Workers, Prostitution and AIDS. Retrieved on 2012-01-11.
  3. ^ "Sex Workers, Prostitution, HIV and AIDS". 
  4. ^ 2008 Human Rights Report: Thailand. (2009-02-25). Retrieved on 2012-01-11.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Deena Guzder "UNICEF: Protecting Children from Commercial Sexual Exploitation". Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. August 20, 2009
  7. ^ Policing and Crime Act 2009. Retrieved on 2012-01-11.
  8. ^ Policing and Crime | UK | Anti-trafficking | Exploitation | Sex Industry | The Naked Anthropologist. (2010-04-06). Retrieved on 2012-01-11.
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