Last updated on: 4/23/2018 | Author:

Countries and Their Prostitution Policies


This page details the prostitution policies in 100 countries. These countries were chosen in order to be inclusive of major religions, geographical regions, and policies towards prostitution. Whenever possible, we have included government documents regarding prostitution such as laws, court decisions, employment information, etc. under the name of the country. Population data are taken from the CIA’s World Factbook 2017.

While reasonable efforts have been made to assure the accuracy of the data provided, do not rely on this information without first checking the latest official edition of the applicable law.


Percentage of Countries with Legal, Illegal, and Limitedly Legal Prostitution
(of the 100 countries)

Population (total # and % of total) of Countries with Legal, Illegal, and Limitedly Legal Prostitution
(of the 100 countries)

Legal in 53; Limitedly Legal in 12; Illegal in 35; Total: 100


Country – Prostitution Status – Population – Details (and source)

AFGHANISTANProstitution is illegal (population 34,124,811)

“Prostitution existed, although it is illegal. Many observers considered ‘temporary marriages’ a form of prostitution. Temporary marriages lasted from one day to a few months, in exchange for a dowry.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Afghanistan,”, Mar. 11, 2010

ALBANIAProstitution is illegal (population 3,047,987)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 113 of the Criminal Code.

ANGOLAProstitution is illegal (population 29,310,273)

“All forms of prostitution, including child prostitution, are illegal. Police did not actively enforce laws against prostitution, and local NGOs expressed concern over child prostitution, especially in Luanda, Benguela, and Cunene provinces.”

US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Angola,”, 2016

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDAProstitution is illegal (population 94,731)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 22 of the Sexual Offences Act 1995.

ARGENTINAProstitution is legal (population 44,293,293)

“It is illegal to operate a brothel, to organize prostitution and to live off the earnings of prostitution. Soliciting to sell sex is illegal within 500 meters of a school, church or residence… Buying sex is not illegal.”

Cheryl Overs for the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) UK, “Map of Sex Work Law,” (accessed Feb. 14, 2018)

ARMENIAProstitution is limitedly legal (population 3,045,191)

“In Armenia, prostitution is… [an administrative offense] punishable by fines. The exact amount of such fines is not defined by the Armenian legislation, but interviews with police lead to the conclusion that first-time violations are punishable by fines of up to 20,000 dram (41 dollars). Second time offenders are fined double.”
Gunel Movlud et al, “Sex Workers in the South Caucasus: ‘Is What We Do Amoral?’,”, Jan. 3, 2017
“The use of the services of a prostitute is not a punishable offence in Armenia.”

UNDP Anti-Trafficking Project, “Republic of Armenia Law Enforcement Anti-Trafficking Training Needs Assessment,”, Dec. 2007

AUSTRALIAProstitution is limitedly legal (population 23,232,413)

The law varies depending on the state from decriminalized to legally regulated to criminal. Click here to see a summary table of Australian prostitution-related legislation compiled by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia.

AUSTRIAProstitution is legal (population 8,754,413)

“In Austria, commercial sex work is legal, but regulated at three administrative levels: national, provincial (‘Länder’), and communal.”

Sex-Worker Forum of Vienna, Austria, “Austria: Discriminations against Sex Workers in the Rights to Work and to Health,” submission to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,, Nov. 2013

BAHAMASProstitution is illegal (population 329,988)

Prostitution is illegal under the Penal Code and Article 8 of the Sexual Offences Act 1991.

BANGLADESHProstitution is legal (population 157,826,578)

“Women in sex work are often looked at as ‘criminals’ even when Bangladesh Penal Code does not criminalize sex work but there is a wide range of laws that create an atmosphere, which criminalizes sex work and thus the sex worker.”

Sex Workers Network (SWN), Bangladesh and Sex Workers and Allies in South Asia (SWASA), Bangladesh chapter, “Submission on the Status of Sex Workers in Bangladesh to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women 65th Session,”, 2016

BARBADOSProstitution is illegal (population 292,336)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 19 of the Sexual Offences Act 1993.

BELGIUMProstitution is legal (population 11,491,346)

“Neither prostitution nor the purchase of sexual services are punishable offences [in Belgium], but third-party activities are generally prohibited… Criminal law prohibits the following: Procuring… aggravated pimping… [and] all forms of advertising for the purpose of prostitution.”

Lena Reinschmidt, Prostitution in Belgium: Federal Legislation and Regulation at the Local Level,”, June 2016

BELIZEProstitution is legal (population 360,346)

“[W]hile prostitution in itself is ‘legal’ in Belize, contracting the services of a commercial sex worker is illegal. There are also offenses such as pimping, owning or operating a brothel, or living off the proceeds of prostitution, which are punishable by law.”

Benjamin Flowers, “Regional Prostitution Laws Challenged but Sex Work Already Legal in Belize,”, Apr. 22, 2016

BOLIVIAProstitution is legal (population 11,138,234)

“Prostitution is legal for adults aged 18 and older, and is common throughout the country. While legal, there are few protections for sex workers or controls on the industry (raising the chances of contracting an STI). Child prostitution (the average sex worker starts at 16 years old) and human trafficking are also real issues, especially in the Chapare and major urban centers.”

Lonely Planet, “Bolivia: Dangers & Annoyances,” (accessed Feb. 20, 2018)

BRAZILProstitution is legal (population 207,353,391)

“In the current Penal Code, prostitution is not a crime, but operating a house of prostitution is punishable.”

Sexuality Policy Watch, “Brazilian Bill Legalizes and Regulates Prostitution,”, Sep. 30, 2013

BULGARIAProstitution is legal (population 7,101,510)

“Prostitution has been legal in Bulgaria since 1990, but is not subject to any further regulation… Prostitution is neither expressly permitted nor banned under Bulgarian law.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Regulation of Prostitution in Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic,”, June 2016

CAMBODIAProstitution is illegal (population 16,204,486)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 46 of the Constitution.

CANADAProstitution is limitedly legal (population 35,623,680)

Selling sex is legal, but buying sex is illegal following implementation of House Government Bill C-36 of 2014.

CHILEProstitution is legal (17,789,267)

Prostitution is legal and regulated under Article 41 of the Codigo Sanitario.

CHINAProstitution is illegal (1,379,302,771)

“Officially, prostitution is illegal in China. Prostitution is banned because – in official language – it ‘seriously corrupts people’s minds, poisons the social atmosphere, and endangers social stability.”

Xiaobing Li and Qiang Fang (eds), Modern Chinese Legal Reform: New Perspectives, 2013

COLOMBIAProstitution is legal (47,698,524)

“The ‘mere exercise’ of prostitution is not prohibited… Likewise, the law does not prohibit the existence of zones in which prostitution is exercised… the law protects those who exercise prostitution with public health measures, but at the same time imposes on the state the duty to promote its eradication and the rehabilitation of those working as sex workers.”

Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa and David Landau, Colombian Constitutional Law: Leading Cases, 2017

COSTA RICAProstitution is legal (4,930,258)

“In the particular case of Costa Rica, prostitution is legal for the workers but not for those ‘promoting or facilitating’ it.”

Elizabeth Izaguirre & Julian Monge-Najera, “Perceptions of College Students in Costa Rica About Prostitution,”, 2015

CROATIAProstitution is illegal (4,292,095)

“The Act [on the Misdemeanours against Public Peace and Order] was adopted in 1977, and transferred into Croatian legislation with minor amendments in 1990. The Act prescribes two offences: allowing for the use of one’s premises for prostitution or enabling or helping a person to engage in prostitution (Article 7); and engaging in (‘falling into’) prostitution (Article 12).”

Ivana Radacic, “Croatian Legislative Framework on Prostitution,” (accessed Feb. 21, 2018)

CUBAProstitution is legal (11,147,407)

“In Cuba, where prostitution is not officially illegal, many experts agree that the island’s macho society and its socio-economic reality may impede any efforts to implement laws that punish sex seekers… [a] Mesa Redonda [television] program also brought up the question on whether prostitution in Cuba is legal, concluding that the person who practices prostitution is not committing a crime under Cuban law. However, there is legislation against pimps, sexual exploitation of minors and pornography.”
Abel Fernandez, “Castro’s Daughter Favors Bold Legislative Weapon to Combat Prostitution – Punish the Client,”, Mar. 2, 2017
“Cuba appears to prohibit most forms of human trafficking through various provisions of its penal code; however, the use of these provisions could not be verified, and prostitution of children age 16 and older is not prohibited, leaving those children particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking.”

US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2013,”, 2013

CYPRUSProstitution is legal (1,221,549)

“It is illegal to operate brothels, organize prostitution rings, live off the profits of prostitution, encourage prostitution or force a person to engage in prostitution. Buying and selling sex are not illegal.”

Cheryl Overs for the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) UK, “Map of Sex Work Law,” (accessed Feb. 14, 2018)

CZECH REPUBLICProstitution is legal (10,674,723)

“Since 1990 prostitution is no longer banned, but takes place within a legally grey area… Prostitution is legal, but unregulated.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Regulation of Prostitution in Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic,”, June 2016

DENMARKProstitution is legal (5,605,9483)

“Prostitution in Denmark was decriminalised in 1999, but certain related activities remain illegal. Both buying and selling sexual services are legal, but activities such as operating brothels and pimping are illegal, as is prostitution by non-residents.”

UK Parliament Home Affairs Committee, “Prostitution: Other Legislative Models,”, 2016

DOMINICAProstitution is illegal (73,897)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 25 of the Sexual Offences Act 1998.

DOMINICAN REPUBLICProstitution is legal (10,734,247)

“Prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic, and, as a result of globalization, the country has become a sex tourism hotspot for foreigners.”

Olivia Marple, “Machismo, Femicide, and Sex Tourism: An Overview of Women’s Rights in the Dominican Republic,”, June 4, 2015

ECUADORProstitution is legal (16,290,913)

“Sex work in Ecuador is legal, though no law recognizes prostitution as work. Unlike Argentina, Ecuador permits the operation of brothels… No legislation specifically addresses sex work that does not occur within these enclosed centers of tolerance [brothels]. This lack of legislation leaves street sex work in ‘a gray area of jurisdiction’, which has resulted in the use of ‘public order offenses’ to charge outdoor sex workers.”

Jessica Van Meir, “Sex Work and the Politics of Space: Case Studies of Sex Workers in Argentina and Ecuador,”, Apr. 19, 2017

EGYPTProstitution is illegal (97,041,072)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 9(c) of Law No. 10/1961 on the Combating of Prostitution.

EL SALVADORProstitution is legal (6,172,011)

“At the national level, the law does not actually criminalise sex work… Most municipalities penalise the selling and/or buying of sexual services. Those municipalities that do not directly penalise sex workers and their clients often create isolated sex work zones, far from schools and churches, instead of safe working spaces for sex workers.”

Dennis van Wanrooij, “OTS: Mapping Human Rights Violations Against Sex Workers in El Salvador,”, Mar. 2, 2015

ESTONIAProstitution is legal (1,251,581)

“[Prostitution is] legal, but unregulated.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

ETHIOPIAProstitution is legal (105,350,020)

“Prostitution was legal for persons over age 18 and was commonly practiced around the country; however, the law prohibits pimping and benefiting from the prostitution of others.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia,”, Mar. 11, 2010

FINLANDProstitution is legal (5,518,371)

“Prostitution and the purchase of sexual services are legal in Finland. However, clients are punished with fines or prison sentences of up to six months if they accept sexual services from victims of human trafficking.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Regulatory Approaches Towards Prostitution in European Comparison,”, June 2016

FRANCEProstitution is limitedly legal (population 67,106,161)

Selling sex is legal, but buying sex is illegal following the adoption of Law No. 2016-444 Aiming to Strengthen the Fight Against the Prostitution System and to Assist Prostituted Persons.

GERMANYProstitution is legal (80,594,017)

“Germany is one of the states which not only permits prostitution but also seeks to control it through additional legislation… [Prostitution is] legal but regulated.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

GREECEProstitution is legal (10,768,477)

“Prostitution is legal and regulated.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

GRENADAProstitution is illegal (population 111,724)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 137 of the Criminal Code.

GUATEMALAProstitution is legal (15,460,732)

“La Linea, ‘The Line’, Guatemala City’s red light district… Prostitution is legal in Guatemala. The women work in row houses behind closed black metal doors.”

Chris Herlinger, “The Worldwide Debate about Sex Work: Morality Meets Reality,”, July 27, 2017

GUYANAProstitution is illegal (population 737,718)

Prostitution is illegal under Articles 355 and 356 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act.

HAITIProstitution is illegal (10,646,714)

“Now let’s be clear here, in Haiti prostitution is illegal, so in Haiti these actions [hiring prostitutes] were illegal.”

Linda LoPresti and Laura Brierley Newton, “Oxfam Haiti Sex Scandal a ‘Global Problem’ Within Aid Industry, Former UN Worker Says,”, Feb. 13, 2018

HONDURASProstitution is legal (population 9,038,741)

“Although adult prostitution is legal for adults over the age of 18 and relatively widespread, the law prohibits promoting or facilitating prostitution.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Honduras,”, Mar. 11, 2010

HUNGARYProstitution is legal (population 9,850,845)

“[Prostitution is] legal but regulated.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

ICELANDProstitution is limitedly legal (population 339,747)

“On April 17 [2009], the last day before Iceland’s parliament adjourned to prepare for elections on April 25, members passed a bill criminalizing the act of buying individuals for purposes of prostitution. Patterned on the Swedish law that addresses the demand fueling the commercial sex industry [where buying sex is illegal but selling sex remains legal], the action was hailed as an historic moment in the international struggle against human trafficking.”

Gudrun Jonsdottir, “In Iceland, Out Long-Sought Victory in Battling Human Trafficking,”, Apr. 21, 2009

INDIAProstitution is legal (population 1,281,935,911)

“The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, does not criminalize prostitution or prostitutes per se; but it does punish acts of third-party facilitation of prostitution, like brothel-keeping, living on the earnings of prostitutes or procuring a person for the sake of prostitution… So long as prostitution itself is not a crime, the individual act of a girl who offers her services on phone cannot be prohibited. If a call-girl does not parade her charms in the public, or indulge in soliciting or in other prohibited acts of like nature, she cannot be held guilty.”

Shivam Goel, “Prostitution and the Law: Charting the Indian Course,”, June 10, 2016

INDONESIAProstitution is legal (population 260,580,739)

“Today, too, there is no law in Indonesia that prohibits the sale of sexual services as such. The criminal law prohibited those who help and facilitate illegal sexual activities as defined in articles 296, 297 and 506 of the Criminal Code (KUHP—Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana) of 1917 and subsequent amendments…. [Local] regulations in a nutshell target streetwalkers for making the city ‘unclean’ but generally leave untouched both the clients and prostitutes working behind closed doors in approved areas.”

Terence H. Hull, “From Concubines to Prostitutes. A Partial History of Trade in Sexual Services in Indonesia,”, 2017

IRANProstitution is illegal (population 82,021,564)

Prostitution is illegal under Articles 637 and 638 of the Penal Code.

IRAQProstitution is illegal (population 39,192,111)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 2 of the Law on Combatting Prostitution No. 8 of 1988.

IRELANDProstitution is limitedly legal (population 5,011,102)

Selling sex is legal, but buying sex is illegal under Articles 24 and 25 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.

ISRAELProstitution is legal (population 8,299,706)

“In Israel it is legal for adults to purchase and sell sex. However, purchasing sexual services from a minor is punishable by three years in prison; pimping carries a five-year sentence; and it is illegal to traffic in persons, own or operate a brothel, or advertise for sex. Despite existing law to define and police prostitution in Israel, demand continues to increase and enforcement is minimal, leaving Israel’s flesh trade a thriving industry where the average age of entry is 14.”

Task Force on Human Trafficking & Prostitution, “A Brief Primer on Prostitution in Israel Prepared by the Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution, an Initiative of ATZUM – Justice Works and Kabiri-Nevo-Keidar,”, Oct. 2016

ITALYProstitution is legal (62,137,802)

“[Prostitution is] legal, but unregulated.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

JAMAICAProstitution is illegal (population 2,990,561)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 23 of the Sexual Offences Act 2011.

JAPANProstitution is limitedly legal (population 126,451,398)

“The Prostitution Prevention Law, enacted in 1957, forbids the act of having ‘intercourse with an unspecified person in exchange for payment’… [It] also defines sex exclusively as vaginal intercourse. Thus other paid sexual acts are not illegal.

Soliciting sex on the street could be punishable by a maximum six-month prison term or ¥10,000 fine. Parties who provide locations for prostitution could face a maximum seven-year sentence or ¥300,000 fine.”

Jun Hongo, “Law Bends Over Backwards to Allow ‘Fuzoku’,”, May 27, 2008

JORDANProstitution is illegal (population 10,248,069)

“- Is it illegal to sell sex? Yes
– Are trafficking victims exempt from prosecution for prostitution-related crimes? Yes
– Are there any age distinctions? (i.e. is it legal for adults but not for minors?) No
– Is there a difference between brothel and street prostitution? Escorting? No.”

Thomson Reuters Foundation for the Trust Women Conference, “Overview of Trafficking and Prostitution Laws in the Middle East and Africa,”, Nov. 2012

KENYAProstitution is legal (47,615,739)

“The Kenyan Penal Code does not criminalize sex work. However, it criminalizes third parties who live on the earnings of prostitution. The Penal Code defines two types of offences with respect to sex work, namely ‘living on the earnings of prostitution’ and ‘soliciting or importuning for immoral purposes.’ The Sexual Offences Act 2006 does not specifically criminalize sex work. The SOA aims at protecting persons who may be forced into sex work or may be exploited for prostitution.”

Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN), “Punitive Laws Affecting Sex Workers,”, 2016

KOREA, NORTHProstitution is illegal (population 25,248,140)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 261 of the Criminal Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2009.

KOREA, SOUTHProstitution is illegal (population 51,181,299)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 4 of Act No. 7196 of 2004 on the Punishment of Procuring Prostitution and Associated Acts.

KYRGYZSTANProstitution is legal (5,789,122)

“Since the Kyrgyz Republic repealed its criminal laws targeting sex workers in 1998, there have been no criminal or administrative regulations prohibiting the sale of sex in Kyrgyzstan, though organizing or maintaining places for prostitution remains illegal.”

Open Society Foundations, “No Turning Back: Examining Sex Worker-Led Programs That Protect Health and Rights,”, 2016

LATVIAProstitution is legal (population 1,944,643)

Prostitution is legal and regulated under Cabinet Regulation No. 32 Regarding Restriction of Prostitution 2008.

LIBERIAProstitution is illegal (population 4,689,021)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 18.4 of the Penal Code.

LITHUANIAProstitution is illegal (2,823,859)

“Ban on Prostitution [in states including] Croatia, Lithuania, Russia.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

LUXEMBOURGProstitution is legal (594,130)

“Luxembourg’s parliament has passed a bill that changes the legal framework for prostitution in a bid to crack down on human trafficking and pimping. Prostitution is legal in Luxembourg, but the bill will criminalise customers of prostitutes who are minors, vulnerable individuals – for instance, individuals suffering from mental illness or without valid papers – or the victims of human trafficking.”

Hannah Brenton, “Luxembourg Parliament Passes Prostitution Law,”, Feb. 7, 2018

MALAYSIAProstitution is limitedly legal (population 31,381,992)

Prostitution is not a criminal offense under Malaysian federal law, however soliciting is illegal under Article 372B of the Penal Code.

Prostitution is illegal under Article 21 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories Act) 1997. Syariah laws in Malaysia do not apply to non-Muslims in the country.

MALTAProstitution is legal (416,338)

“One can conclude that the current legal situation in Malta is that voluntary prostitution is not considered to be illegal. The manipulating, compelling, and deceiving nature of people who subject, or induce others, whether they are minors or of age, to prostitution is considered to be illegal. In addition, both loitering and the lenocinium of minors are considered to be illegal.”

Ghaqda Studenti Tal-Ligi (Malta Law Students’ Society), “An Insight into the Legalisation of Prostitution,”, May 2015

MEXICOProstitution is legal (124,574,795)

“Mexico is a federal system in which each state can interpret, enact and enforce different laws about sex work. In many of the 32 states it is illegal to operate a brothel, procure or solicit. In others, including Mexico City, there are sanctioned red light districts and sex workers must register with municipal health departments and carry a health card… Buying sex is not illegal… Different state or district level governments within one country can make rules on sex work so they are not uniform throughout the country.”

Cheryl Overs for the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) UK, “Map of Sex Work Law,” (accessed Feb. 14, 2018)

NETHERLANDSProstitution is legal (17,084,719)

“Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands as long as it involves sex between consenting adults. Abuses like forced prostitution, underage prostitution and unsafe working conditions still occur.”

Government of the Netherlands, “Prostitution,” (accessed Mar. 1, 2018)

NEW ZEALANDProstitution is legal (population 4,510,327)

Prostitution was decriminalized under the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.

NICARAGUAProstitution is legal (6,025,951)

“A small group of women in Nicaragua this month became the first in the world to assume the simultaneous job titles of sex worker and judicial mediator. They’re part of a landmark program Nicaragua is rolling out to bring sex workers even closer to the judicial system. Prostitution is already legal, but authorities say including sex workers in mediations can help them defend other sex workers and members of marginalized communities against abuse.”

Brianna Lee, “Nicaragua Rolls Out Program to Train Sex Workers as Conflict Mediators,”, June 11, 2015

NORWAYProstitution is limitedly legal (5,320,045)

“According to the Norwegian Penal Code, selling sexual services is legal. However, it is illegal for Norwegian citizens/people living in Norway to buy sexual services, whether in Norway or overseas. Buying sexual services is punishable with a fine and up to one year in prison.”

Pro Sentret, “Norwegian Law,” (accessed Mar. 5, 2018)

PANAMAProstitution is legal (3,753,142)

“Prostitution is legal and regulated, with prostitutes required to register and carry identification cards; however, the majority of prostitutes were not registered.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Panama,”, Mar. 11, 2010

PARAGUAYProstitution is legal (6,943,739)

“In Paraguay, autonomous sex work is a licit activity according to the current Constitution and penal laws. However, sex workers are constantly stigmatized and discriminated against and every day we have to face mistreatment by State authorities and bodies by action or omission.”

Red de Trabajadoras Sexuales de Latinoamérica y el Caribe (RedTraSex) et al, “Human Rights Situation of Women Sex Workers in Paraguay: Suggested List of Issues Submitted to the Working Group on the Paraguay Review,”, July 2016

PERUProstitution is legal (31,036,656)

“Prostitution is legal for women over 18 years of age if they register with municipal authorities and carry a health certificate. The vast majority of prostitutes worked in the informal sector, where they lacked health protection.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Peru,”, Mar. 11, 2010

PHILIPPINESProstitution is illegal (population 104,256,076)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code 2012.

POLANDProstitution is legal (38,476,269)

“It is possible to classify Poland’s policy on prostitution under the abolitionist model, because outdoor and indoor prostitution are neither prohibited nor regulated by the State. To be a prostitute it is not punished in Poland, but it is illegal to take profits from prostitution by third party.”

La Strada Foundation against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery, “Country Report Poland,” (accessed Mar. 5, 2018)

PORTUGALProstitution is legal (10,839,514)

“[Prostitution is] legal but unregulated.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

ROMANIAProstitution is illegal (21,529,967)

“Up until the beginning of 2014, prostitution in Romania was banned under the criminal law. This ban was lifted on 1.2.2014. Since then, prostitution has been regarded as an administrative offence and is subject to a fine. Romania therefore continues to be one of the few European states in which the provision of sexual services is punished (Model 1 – ban on prostitution).”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Regulation of Prostitution in Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic,”, June 2016

RWANDAProstitution is illegal (population 11,901,484)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 205 of the Penal Code 2012.

SAINT KITTS AND NEVISProstitution is illegal (52,715)

“Prostitution is illegal and was not considered a problem.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: St Kitts and Nevis,”, Mar. 11, 2010

SAINT LUCIAProstitution is illegal (population 164,994)

Prostitution is illegal under Articles 150, 151, 560, and 563 of the Criminal Code 2004.

SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINESProstitution is illegal (102,089)

“Although prostitution is illegal, a local human rights group reported that it remained a minor problem among young women and teenagers.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,”, Mar. 11, 2010

SAUDI ARABIAProstitution is illegal (28,571,770)

“Common-law relationships, homosexual relations, adultery, and prostitution are illegal and are subject to severe punishment, including the death penalty.”

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (UK), “Guidance: Living in Saudi Arabia,”, Aug. 10, 2017

SENEGALProstitution is legal (14,668,522)

“Sex work was legalised in Senegal in 1969. Under Senegal’s Penal Code (articles 318 to 327) sex workers must be at least 21-years-old, register with the police, carry a valid sanitary card, and test negative for sexually transmitted infections… While prostitution itself is legal, soliciting, brothel ownership, and pimping are prohibited. The government strictly regulates locations for commercial sex work.”

Global Network of Sex Work Projects, “Sex Work Is Legalised in Senegal,” (accessed Mar. 6, 2018)

SINGAPOREProstitution is legal (5,888,926)

“While the act of providing sexual services in exchange for money is in itself not criminalized, many sex work-related activities are criminalized… [including]
a. Soliciting in a public place for sex work is criminalized (Miscellaneous Offences Act, Article 19);
b. Persons living on or trading in prostitution (Women’s Charter, Article 146);
c. Owning a brothel (Women’s Charter, Article 148);
d. Additionally, migrant sex workers are defined to be ‘prohibited migrants’ (Immigration Act, Article 8(e));
e. In 2016, two new amendments were made to Article 146 of the Women’s Charter to now criminalize the use of ‘remote communication services’ to advertise sex work. This effectively criminalizes independent sex workers who run their own websites.”

Lisa Ja’affar et al, “CEDAW 68th Session Stakeholders Report by Sex Workers in Singapore,”, 2017

SLOVAKIAProstitution is legal (5,445,829)

“[In Slovakia, prostitution] is neither prohibited nor subject to legal safeguards.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Regulatory Approaches Towards Prostitution in European Comparison,”, June 2016

SLOVENIAProstitution is legal (1,972,126)

“Exploitation through prostitution and trafficking in persons are considered crimes, while selling or buying sexual services are not punishable. Significant legal changes came in 2003, when prostitution was erased from the list of misdemeanours, while procurement and organizing prostitution remained punishable.”

Iztok Šori and Mojca Pajnik, “Legal Framework on Prostitution in Slovenia,”, 2017

SOUTH AFRICAProstitution is illegal (54,841,552)

“The Sexual Offenses Act of 1957 makes it an offense to have unlawful carnal intercourse or commit an act of indecency with any other person for reward. It also prohibits brothel keeping, recruiting a person to work as a sex worker or in a brothel, facilitating sex work, knowingly living off the earnings of sex work, soliciting in public places for immoral purposes, and public indecency. The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2007 makes it an offense to pay or otherwise reward someone over 18 years of age for a sexual act, whether or not that act is committed.”

Open Society Foundations, “No Turning Back: Examining Sex Worker-Led Programs That Protect Health and Rights,”, 2016

SPAINProstitution is legal (48,958,159)

“The national legal situation in Spain since 1995 is that prostitution is legal, but completely unregulated… Since 01.07.2015, a new act has prohibited the purchase of sexual services in certain public places.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Regulatory Approaches Towards Prostitution in European Comparison,”, June 2016

SURINAMEProstitution is illegal (591,919)

“Although the law prohibits sexual exploitation, including prostitution, in practice prostitution was tolerated and common.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Suriname,”, Mar. 11, 2010

SWEDENProstitution is limitedly legal (9,960,487)

Selling sex is legal, but buying sex is illegal under Chapter 6, Section 11 of the Penal Code.

SWITZERLANDProstitution is legal (8,236,303)

“In Switzerland, prostitution has been legal since 1942… laws regarding prostitution in the areas of civil law, labour and tax law as well as social insurance, criminal and immigration law fall under the jurisdiction of the federal state. By contrast, specific regulations regarding when, where and under what conditions prostitution can be practised… falls under the jurisdiction of the cantons [states].”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

THAILANDProstitution is illegal (68,414,135)

Prostitution is illegal under the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act 1996 and Article 286 of the Criminal Code.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGOProstitution is illegal (1,218,208)

Prostitution is illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 1986 and the Summary Offences Act 1921.

TURKEYProstitution is legal (80,845,215)

“[In Turkey] prostitution is not only legal but also subject to a clear legal framework in the form of directives.”

Lena Reinschmidt, “Prostitution in Europe Between Regulation and Prohibition,”, May 2016

UGANDAProstitution is illegal (39,570,125)

Prostitution is illegal under Article 139 of the Penal Code Act.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATESProstitution is illegal (6,072,475)

Prostitution is illegal under Articles 363-368 of Federal Law No. (3) of 1987 on Issuance of the Penal Code.

UNITED KINGDOMProstitution is limitedly legal (64,769,452)

“Prostitution policy and legislation are devolved matters, and it is open to both Scotland and Northern Ireland to legislate separately. In England and Wales, the sale and purchase of sexual services is legal, but various related activities are criminal. This includes activities linked to exploitation, such as controlling prostitution, or managing a brothel, and activities that can present a public nuisance, such as buying or selling sex in public.”
House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, “Prostitution: Third Report of Session 2016–17,”, July 1, 2016
“As with any form of sex work, selling sexual services for money is not illegal [in Scotland], but ‘associated activities’ – soliciting, kerb-crawling, brothel keeping – are.”
ScotPep, “The Law,” (accessed Mar. 9, 2018)
In Northern Ireland, selling sex is legal, but buying sex is illegal under Article 15 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

UNITED STATESProstitution is limitedly legal (326,625,791)

Prostitution is illegal in all states except Nevada. Indoor prostitution became legal in Rhode Island in 1980 due to an unintentional legal loophole created by legislators. The state enacted legislation closing the loophole on Nov. 3, 2009.

See our US Federal and State Prostitution Laws and Related Punishments resource for further information.

URUGUAYProstitution is legal (3,360,148)

Prostitution is legal and regulated by Ley No. 17.515 of 2002: Trabajo Sexual – Se Dictan Normas.

VENEZUELAProstitution is legal (31,304,016)

“Prostitution is legal… The law prohibits inducing the prostitution and corruption of minors.”

US Department of State, “2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Venezuela,”, Mar. 11, 2010