Frequently I am asked, "What countries have legal prostitution?"
It would be easier to ask which countries is it illegal in, that would be
a very short list, with mainly the U.S. were consenting adult sexual rights
Prostitution is LEGAL (with some restrictions that aren't that bad)
in Canada, most all of Europe including
England, France, Wales, Denmark, etc., most of South
America including most of Mexico (often in special zones), Brazil, Israel (Tel Aviv
known as the brothel capital of the world), Australia,
and many other countries. It is either legal or very tolerated in most all
of Asia and even Iran
has "temporary wives" which can be for only a few hours!
New Zealand passed in 2003 one of the most comprehensive
decriminalization acts which even made street hookers legal which is causing
many concerns. I do NOT support public nuisance street hookers being
legal unless in special zones. But PRIVATE consenting adult
sexwork should be legal as it is in most of the world except the U.S.
As long as prostitution is kept illegal, and women are persecuted for acts
which harm no one, prostitute women will be subject to brutality at the
hands of misogynists and moralists -- they are, arguably, the same group.
And when prostitutes are treated as second class citizens, and in extreme
cases, as less than human, then all women who dare to step out of their
social constructs will be labeled as whores and treated accordingly. For
these reasons, the rights of all women are contingent upon the rights accorded
to the most vulnerable women. - From Dr. Jocelyn Elders: March 1997 International
Prostitution Conference highlights: Keynote speaker was Dr. Jocelyn Elders.
Elders was surgeon general until President. Clinton fired her for supporting
masturbation. Elders called for prostitution to be decriminalized. Dr. Elders
has also said: "We say that [hookers] are selling their bodies, but how
is that different from athletes? They're selling their bodies. Models? They're
selling their bodies. Actors? They're selling their bodies." See
Brazil - Legal except brothels
and pimping. In 2002 the Ministry of Labor added "sex worker" to an
official list of occupations. Prostitution is not regulated in any way
(no licensing) but prostitutes can contribute can contribute to the
official government pension fund and receive benefits when they retire.
The Prostitution Reform Act 2003 made ALL adult prostitution and brothels
a legal occupation in New Zealand but may have too many restrictions on
brothels. In fact the government has online their "Brothel Operator Certificates."
There are reasonable health and safety requirements such as using condoms,
local bylaws can restrict signage and brothel locations, and a provision
to outlaw pimping. The entire Act is at
The Accident Compensation Corporation (like our Workers Compensation) says,"
Both prostitutes and brothels will come under the ACC classification for
"personal services not elsewhere classified" which is the category that
also covers massage parlours. This classification falls within the broader
Levy Risk Group 690, Personal and Other Services – Medium Risk Group.
ACC will cover the normal range of injuries, as it does already. Cover is
unlikely to be available for sex workers who become pregnant in the course
of their employment as this would not be considered a personal injury under
the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act 2001. But it
may be available for a sexually transmitted infection if the tests are met
that are set out in Section 30 IPRC Act 2001 for work-related gradual process,
disease or infection."
However there is great concern that it also decriminalized street hookers
and the legal situation is unclear. Section 14 of the Act allows local governments
to make bylaws "regulating the location of brothels of any scale, but not
extending to other businesses of prostitution." It was hoped that by making
brothels legal women would choose to work from their own homes (as allowed
as home business in zoning rules) and get off the streets. But after
the Reform Act there are still many street hookers which it seems can't
be restricted under the Act.
The Philippines is a good Asian example, Technically prostitution is
illegal but when it had U.S. military bases there was such a huge demand
by U.S. military men for sex, it flourished. But to be politically correct,
bargirls are "Customer Relations officers". They are required to have weekly
STD checkups and quarterly HIV tests! But officially there are no barfines
or sexworkers, just Guest Relationship Officers who are bargirls that have
to carry government issued ID badges. Sexwork is an very big industry and
supports many people especially in smaller cities like Angeles. Unless it
involves children there is no enforcement and no legal risk for the bargirls
or their customers. It's just like secondary wives in much of Asia. It is
simply accepted but often not publicly acknowledged.
And for $20-$30 barfine and maybe a $10 tip you have a very attractive happy
bargirl who enthusiastically goes to your hotel for the night and is very
happy with the arrangement. But that $40 cost in PI is equivalent to perhaps
$400 in purchasing value in the U.S. since food, housing and all living
costs are so much higher. So it is unfair to compare rates of American providers,
living here with Asian providers. On the other hand it makes the travel
costs very worthwhile, not only in cost but in attitudes of Asian vs. U.S.
providers without worry about legal problems.
Thailand has a very similar situation and has been known since
the Vietnam war days as one of the best places in the world to go for great
sexuality. For centuries brothels have just been an accepted part of the
culture. Most Thai men got their first sexual education and experience in
the local brothel. When sexwork became so popular when the U.S. military
enjoyed their rest and relaxation stops in ports, for public relations purposes,
Thailand made it officially illegal due to Western pressure, but the Entertainment
Places Act and "special services" exempted most all of the sexwork for the
military or tourists since it brings in so much cash. Consenting adult prostitution
is illegal only officially in Thailand, not in practice.
Canada is a closer example of few legal problems and more equal purchasing
power. The typical $CAN200/hr cost for 1 hour of full service with no silly
tips expected is a bargain for U.S. customers since this is about $US170.
One reason prices are so reasonable compared to the U.S. is there is no
legal risk and many more women choose sexwork as a profession for the right
reasons and enjoy it. Canada (as in most of the world) has mostly honest
sexworkers vs mostly scams, rip offs or much higher priced providers in
the U.S. with the huge unmet demand for natural sexuality but fewer women
willing to take the legal risks. More women get into sex work for the right
reasons as a legitimate choice, when you don't have the legal risks of the
U.S. Prostitution has always been legal in Canada, but its limited
by the 1850 bawdy house restriction and you can't publicly solicit on a
busy street or public area.
England and Scotland has gone further than Canada since "incalls" or brothels
are allowed but with only one girl per flat. There are many trying
to increase this limit so providers can work more safely. Of course
outcall adult sexwork has always been legal but not street hookers.
Even in IRAN
The 1925 Penal Code stated that prostitution was not a crime in itself,
but that it was a crime to advocate it, to aid or abet a woman to enter
prostitution or to operate a brothel. The current regime believes that execution
- by firing squad or stoning - is a more fitting penalty. Execution is common.
Some Iranian feminists regard mutďa, a form of temporary marriage where
the woman has few rights, as akin to prostitution . Under mutďa, it is possible
to be `married for as little as half an hour. Men who visit prostitutes
simply marry them for a few hours and its totally legal in Iran.
In the U.S., based our puritanical forcing a certain religious view is out
of step with the rest of the world and our culture sufferers because of
U.S. may have to decriminalize prostitution per U.N. Treaty which is why
it is unlikely to be signed.
If the U.S. Senate passes the UN Convention the was adopted by the U.N.
General Assembly and has been signed by 165 countries this could force the
U.S. to acknowledge voluntary prostitution is a legal women’s choice as
well as a women’s right to choose of abortion. If passed the U.S. would
have to accept these human rights as the treaty provides.
The following summary is from a religious right group, Concerned Women of
America (CWA) who of course oppose any such rights of women and want to
keep them from having control over their own bodies:
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Revised: September 5, 2000
The U.N. General Assembly adopted CEDAW on December 18, 1979. President
Jimmy Carter signed it in 1980. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed
it on September 29, 1994, but the full Senate has not ratified it. So far,
165 countries have signed the treaty, legally binding them to implement
CWA (Strong opponents “Concerned Women of America") is convinced that, if
the Senate ever ratifies CEDAW, the federal government would allow it to
supersede all federal and state laws, as evidenced by past federal court
Part V (Articles 17-22) of CEDAW outlines the creation of a Committee on
the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to oversee the implementation
of CEDAW in every signatory nation. CEDAW legally binds every signatory
country to implement its provisions. After signing, each country must submit
an initial report with a detailed and comprehensive description of the state
of its women, "a benchmark against which subsequent progress can be measured."
This initial report should include legislative, judicial, administrative
and other measures the signatory nation has adopted to comply with CEDAW.
The country must submit follow-up reports at least every four years.
Treaty Provisions Includes
Article 11, section 1(c) of the treaty upholds "the right to free choice
of profession and employment." The Committee has included "voluntary" prostitution
in that "free choice"
Articles 12 and 14 (section 2b) seek "to ensure, on a basis of equality
of men and women, access to health care services, including those related
to family planning." This document was written in the late 1970s, and time
has shown that "family planning" rhetoric means access to abortion services.
The Religious Rights Fight Against CEDAW
Although President Carter signed CEDAW in 1980, and it passed out of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1994, the Senate has not yet ratified
this treaty. Much thanks is due to Sen. Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina),
chairman of the foreign relations committee. On May 11, 2000, just before
Mothers Day, Sen. Helms introduced a "sense of the Senate" to reject CEDAW
because it "demeans motherhood and undermines the traditional family."
Advocates have not ceased in their quest to ratify the treaty, however.
On April 12, 2000, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) introduced a "sense
of the Senate" to hold hearings and act on CEDAW. S.Res.286 had 34 cosponsors.
The U.S. Constitution allows the president to enter into treaties with two-thirds
Senate approval. It also requires the Senate to have a quorum, a majority
(51), present to conduct business. Thus, with 51 senators present, CEDAW
would need a minimum of 34 approving senators to ratify it.
President Clinton issued Executive Order 13107, "Implementation of Human
Rights Treaties," on December 10, 1998. He then established an Interagency
Working Group, with representatives from major federal departments, to implement
Americas alleged "obligations" under U.N. treaties on human rights "to which
the United States is now or may become a party in the future."
Footnotes deleted but see link for the more detailed report and footnotes.
This excerpt, with full credit, is being shared under the Fair Use provision
of the U.S. Copyright laws and International treaties for educational purposes
and for no financial gain.