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Pulse Special 12 countries where it is legal to practice prostitution

Commercial sex workers in Nigeria have been clamoring for a legalization of their profession to go in line with many countries who have done so.

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Prostitutes in Kenya play



The Nigerian Sex Workers Association [NSWA], a splinter group from the National Association of Nigerian Prostitutes [NANP], is doing everything to get the government to legalize prostitution in the country, believing that the move would curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The newly formed body's National Coordinator, Amaka Enemo, has been vociferous in the call for the government to make commercial sex work in Nigeria a legitimate business and even went as far as presenting a paper at a workshop in Abuja.

In the paper Enemo presented, she mentioned some countries where prostitution is legal and from findings, some of these countries are well advanced and their economies are some of the best anyone can think of.

ALSO READ: "'Ashewo No Be Work': Prostitutes want government to legalize their profession"

The number of countries where legal prostitution is treated as a controlled industry is astounding as there are over 77 countries that have completely legalized the skin trade while 11 have limited prostitution but still allow it.

In some places, like the United States, have made it illegal with a few exceptions. In the US, prostitution is legal in some rural counties in Nevada, but sex workers are required to register with the state and undergo regular health checks.

Prostitutes stand on the street in Benin City, Nigeria's capital for illegal migration. International Organization for Migration has recorded an explosion in the number of Nigerian women trafficked into Europe play African prostitutes in Europe (AFP)


In the United Kingdom, prostitution is technically legal but brothels are outlawed while solicitation and advertising of any kind are strictly prohibited.

Here is a list of the top 12 countries in the world where prostitution is legal:

1. Denmark

Denmark is listed number one on the list countries where prostitution is legal. In the  Scandinavian country, prostitution was decriminalized in 1999, partly because it

However, it still remains a criminal offense to purchase sex from a minor under the age of 18, to own a brothel or to procure sex.

The rules in Denmark are much more relaxed than in the other Nordic countries, which have made the decision to criminalize all aspects involved in buying sex (selling is mostly permitted) and to categorize prostitution as violence against women.

Since Norway passed a law prohibiting the purchase of sex in 2008, Denmark has become known as ‘the Nordic Brothel’.

2. Finland

Prostitution is legal in Finland, but selling and purchasing sex in public is illegal, as is purchasing or pimping a trafficking victim.

Prostitution pretty much exploded during the recession in the 1990s, although it was mainly limited to private apartments, erotic restaurants, and nightclubs in larger cities.

Street hawking, however, is banned, but like many industries, the Finnish red light districts are all accessible through the Internet and personal ads.

A Nigerian prostitute in Italy play A Nigerian commercial sex worker in Europe (glowville )


3. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is another country where prostitution is completely legal. In fact, according to Ranker, commercial sex is a common profession, especially in popular tourist destinations.

The problems are with the activities surrounding prostitution. Though pimping and prostitution rings are illegal, there is also a huge problem with child prostitution and human trafficking in Costa Rica because of the high rate of poverty.

4. Argentina

Argentina legalized prostitution a few years ago in a bid to give the free women a sense of belonging and safeguard them from gangsters who collected huge sums of money from them for protection.

However, a practitioner must be above 18 years to be allowed to practice the trade but it is the promotion, facilitation, and exploitation of others that have now become a source of worry for the government.

Human sex trafficking, owning a brothel, pimping, or coercing an individual into prostitution in any way is illegal, though.

5. Canada

Canada is another country where prostitution is completely legal and practitioners proudly display their identification cards to show what they do for a living.

However, like in other places, pimping, owning a brothel or trafficking in human sex is prohibited and carry a long jail term.

A prostitute's nest. play A Nigerian prostitute in her brothel (Press)


6. Belgium

Belgium has also legalized prostitution and although it is illegal to run brothels, it is on record that there are so many of such that the government and security agencies have found it difficult to keep up with them.

They are seen as a nuisance, but authorities put no effort into policing red light districts and in places like Villa Tinto, one of the most high-tech brothels in Europe, there is an elaborate operation that involves prostitutes clocking in via biometric fingerprint scanner and posing in a boutique-like display window to lure in potential clients.

7. France

France is another European country where commercial sex work is legalized, as long as there are no pimps, brothels or public advertisements is involved

In France, prostitutes are required to register with the government and their activities are regulated so as to prevent it from being an epidemic and a nuisance.

In 2003, the French government had passed a bill which made passive soliciting illegal, with the law categorizing using one's clothing or posture as a method of advertising prostitution.

The bill caused over 500 prostitutes to protest outside of parliament, saying the bill threatened their livelihood. Some donned masks and many held signs with phrases such as, 'You sleep with us, you vote against us,' written on them, making it the profession's largest protest since 1975.

However, in 2016, a new law was put in place where the sex worker would be treated as a victim rather than a criminal.

A sex worker walks down a lonely street at night. play Nigerian prostitutes in an Italian street (Pulse)


8. Germany

There are an estimated 600,000 prostitutes working in Germany, and their revenues are equivalent to companies like Porsche and Adidas. According to Ranker, prostitution brings in about six billion Euros each year with a clientele of an estimated 1.2 million, making the sex business one of the biggest industries in the country.

The government, of course, withholds a portion of these revenues to contribute to social benefits and sex workers have pensions, health insurance, a regular 40-hour-work week, and the option to join sex worker unions.

9. Italy

Italy has, over the years, been the Mecca of prostitutes, especially those from Nigeria, because the trade is legal in that country and is ranked as one of the biggest industries there.

However, there are still some minor restrictions to curb the trade and put the practitioners in check.

A lady willing to be part of the industry must be above 18 years, register with a union and go for a compulsory medical check up every month.

Anyone caught soliciting for sex or advertising same is liable to a jail term or payment of a fine but the prostitutes have devised a clever little way of staying in business.

They issue any of such client arrested little pink coupons promising to refund them for any fines in kind.

10. Switzerland

Prostitution is equally legal in Switzerland but to practice, one has to be officially registered with the government and get regular health checks.

Street prostitution is considered a public nuisance and thus illegal, but brothels are legal, and there are designated red light districts in major cities.

The large numbers of sex workers throughout Switzerland can be traced back to a 2004 treaty with the European Union to allow EU workers to live and work in the country.

Prostitutes in front of their brothel play Prostitutes relaxing intheir brothel (GHNews)


11. Netherlands

Prostitution has officially been legal in the Netherlands for those over the age of 18 since October 2000. But, strangely enough, the clients only have to be over 16 years old to solicit for sex.

Ownership of brothels, advertising and soliciting are all legal but prostitutes must be duly registered and pay their taxes regularly or they would face prosecution.

ALSO READ: "Pulse List: 10 reasons men patronize prostitutes"

12. Spain

Spain spent about three years locked in a debate about how to abolish or monitor prostitution before they simply gave up and did nothing. While pimping, sex trafficking, and brothel ownership remain illegal, there are no specific laws governing the act of prostitution itself.

It is neither legal nor illegal, which is why the country has been dubbed the brothel of Europe due to the high amount of commercial sex workers.

According to research, there are up to 800,000 women working as prostitutes in Spain with an estimated daily demand of 1.5 million clients while the industry churns over an estimated $54 billion annually in revenue.

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