This page details 100 countries’ policies on prostitution, brothel ownership, and pimping. These countries were chosen in order to be inclusive of major religions, geographical regions, and policies towards prostitution. Taiwan and Scotland were included in the country listings for China and the United Kingdom, respectively, in accordance with the country listings and population estimates provided in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook.
Whenever possible, we have included government documents regarding prostitution such as laws, court decisions, employment information, etc. under the name of the country. While reasonable efforts have been made to assure the accuracy of the data provided, do not rely on this information without first checking an official edition of the applicable law. This page was last updated Nov. 4, 2009.
Legal in 50 (50%); Limited Legality in 11 (11%); Illegal in 39 (39%); Total: 100 (100%) [of the countries surveyed]
In some sex tourist destinations (Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines) prostitution is totally illegal. Amazingly, Germany is one of the most liberal countries. Brothels are legal, prostitution is legal, pimping is 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
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 is interesting how two of the most organized countries in the world have legal prostitution, instead of the morass of prohibition and illegality.
Prostitutes must register with city authorities and health authorities and get regular health checks.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
Legalized in 1992.
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."
</ALIGN="JUSTIFY">There are no regulations for adult prostitution.
Brothel Ownership: 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.’…
"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."
Prostitutes must be at least 21, register, and have health checks every 2 weeks.
Brothel Ownership: Legal
"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