Countries Where Prostitution Is Legal 2019

Prostitution is the practice, business, or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone in exchange for payment. There are an estimated 42 million prostitutes around the world.

Prostitution occurs in a variety of forms and its legality varies from country to country. Its legality reflects different opinions on exploitation, gender roles, ethics and morality, freedom of choice, and social norms.

There are different types of legality when it comes to prostitution. Prohibitionism means that prostitution is illegal. Neo-abolitionism considers prostitution to be violence against women, and so the clients and pimps are prosecuted, not the prostitute. Abolitionism considers prostitution to be legal; however, public solicitation, operating brothels, and pimping are prohibited. The legalization of prostitution allows prostitution and employment of prostitutes to be legal but is regulated. Decriminalization of prostitution treats prostitution like any other labor and is subject to minimal or no special regulations. Some countries have different local laws regarding prostitution.

Prostitution is seen as a major issue for religious groups and causes controversy within feminist activism. Some feminists believe that prostitution harms women and reinforces stereotypical views about women as sex objects. Other feminists believe that prostitution is a valid choice for women who wish to engage in it.

Prostitution in Canada is legal with strict regulations. Sex work cannot be operated on a premises (such as a brothel), and cannot be solicited in public. However, working as independent sex workers and soliciting services in private is legal.

In Thailand, prostitution is illegal, however, laws are ambiguous and unenforced. Sex work in Thailand is a big economic incentive for rural, unskilled women who have financial obligations such as dependents or debts.

In Germany, prostitution is legal and taxed. Germany also allows brothels, advertisements, and job offers through HR companies. Germany passed the Prostitutes Protection Act in 2016, which was intended to protect prostitutes by requiring a permit for all prostitution trades and a prostitute registration certificate.

The legality of prostitution in Australia varies considerably between states and territories, which each have their own laws. In Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, sex work is legal and regulated. In Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania, independent sex work is legal and not regulated, but brothels are illegal.

Prostitution is legal under federal law in Mexico. The country’s 32 states enact their own prostitution policies. 13 of the states allow and regulate prostitution, and some cities have “tolerance zones,” acting as red-light districts, which allow regulated prostitution. Pimping is illegal in most parts of Mexico.

Where is prostitution legal in the United States? Prostitution is illegal in every state except for some counties in Nevada. Prostitution is illegal in the following counties: Clark, Douglas, Eureka, Lincoln, Pershing, and Washoe. Las Vegas and Reno are within these counties, meaning prostitution is illegal in both cities; however, most prostitution in Nevada occurs illegally in both Reno and Las Vegas. Brothels are permitted in counties where prostitution is legal, and both brothels and prostitutes are subject to federal income taxes.

Below is a table of 100 countries around the world and each of their legal stances on prostitution. Prostitution is legal in 53 of these countries, limited legal in 12, and illegal in 35.

Country Prostitution Status Population 2019
ChinaIllegal1,433,783,686
PhilippinesIllegal108,116,615
EgyptIllegal100,388,073
IranIllegal82,913,906
ThailandIllegal69,625,582
South AfricaIllegal58,558,270
South KoreaIllegal51,225,308
UgandaIllegal44,269,594
IraqIllegal39,309,783
AfghanistanIllegal38,041,754
Saudi ArabiaIllegal34,268,528
AngolaIllegal31,825,295
North KoreaIllegal25,666,161
RomaniaIllegal19,364,557
CambodiaIllegal16,486,542
RwandaIllegal12,626,950
HaitiIllegal11,263,077
JordanIllegal10,101,694
United Arab EmiratesIllegal9,770,529
LiberiaIllegal4,937,374
CroatiaIllegal4,130,304
JamaicaIllegal2,948,279
AlbaniaIllegal2,880,917
LithuaniaIllegal2,759,627
Trinidad And TobagoIllegal1,394,973
GuyanaIllegal782,766
SurinameIllegal581,372
BahamasIllegal389,482
BarbadosIllegal287,025
Saint LuciaIllegal182,790
GrenadaIllegal112,003
Saint Vincent And The GrenadinesIllegal110,589
Antigua And BarbudaIllegal97,118
DominicaIllegal71,808
Saint Kitts And NevisIllegal52,823
IndiaLegal1,366,417,754
IndonesiaLegal270,625,568
BrazilLegal211,049,527
BangladeshLegal163,046,161
MexicoLegal127,575,529
EthiopiaLegal112,078,730
GermanyLegal83,517,045
TurkeyLegal83,429,615
ItalyLegal60,550,075
KenyaLegal52,573,973
ColombiaLegal50,339,443
SpainLegal46,736,776
ArgentinaLegal44,780,677
PolandLegal37,887,768
PeruLegal32,510,453
VenezuelaLegal28,515,829
ChileLegal18,952,038
GuatemalaLegal17,581,472
EcuadorLegal17,373,662
NetherlandsLegal17,097,130
SenegalLegal16,296,364
BelgiumLegal11,539,328
BoliviaLegal11,513,100
CubaLegal11,333,483
Dominican RepublicLegal10,738,958
Czech RepublicLegal10,689,209
GreeceLegal10,473,455
PortugalLegal10,226,187
HondurasLegal9,746,117
HungaryLegal9,684,679
AustriaLegal8,955,102
SwitzerlandLegal8,591,365
IsraelLegal8,519,377
ParaguayLegal7,044,636
BulgariaLegal7,000,119
NicaraguaLegal6,545,502
El SalvadorLegal6,453,553
KyrgyzstanLegal6,415,850
SingaporeLegal5,804,337
DenmarkLegal5,771,876
FinlandLegal5,532,156
SlovakiaLegal5,457,013
Costa RicaLegal5,047,561
New ZealandLegal4,783,063
PanamaLegal4,246,439
UruguayLegal3,461,734
SloveniaLegal2,078,654
LatviaLegal1,906,743
EstoniaLegal1,325,648
CyprusLegal1,198,575
LuxembourgLegal615,729
MaltaLegal440,372
BelizeLegal390,353
United StatesLimitedly legal329,064,917
JapanLimitedly legal126,860,301
United KingdomLimitedly legal67,530,172
FranceLimitedly legal65,129,728
CanadaLimitedly legal37,411,047
MalaysiaLimitedly legal31,949,777
AustraliaLimitedly legal25,203,198
SwedenLimitedly legal10,036,379
NorwayLimitedly legal5,378,857
IrelandLimitedly legal4,882,495
ArmeniaLimitedly legal2,957,731
IcelandLimitedly legal339,031