Monday, October 20, 2003

English Wire

Czech ministry to introduce bill legalising prostitution

PRAGUE — The Czech interior ministry has drawn up a draft law the proposes the legalisation of prostitution, sources close to the ministry said Monday.

The bill, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, forsees the granting of official licences to prostitutes, who would be obliged to pay taxes and submit themselves to regular medical check-ups.

Brothels would be outlawed from areas close to schools, hospitals, sport grounds, railways, car parks and service stations, according to the bill, which will soon be presented to government for debate.

The draft legisation will set out to define legal and illegal prostitution in order to minimise the number of prostitutes and stop under-18s becoming involved in the flesh trade.

Currently, there is a legal void over the status of prostitution in the Czech republic, with the practice not officially outlawed.

An adoption of the proposed bill would entail Prague signing up to the UN's Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

The Czech republic, as part of Czechslovakia, signed up to the convention in 1951 but withdrew seven years later.

"According to our estimates, some 10,000 prostitutes could take a licence, for a price of 1,000 croner (31 euros)," ministry official Michal Mazel told the Hospodarske Noviny economic magazine on Monday.

Interior Minister Stanislav Gross, a social democrat, is sure to face opposition to passing the bill from the Christian Democrats, one of the government's three ruling coalition parties.

Police carried out a massive nationwide swoop last week on 435 night clubs and brothels in a crackdown on slave trade and forced prostitution, detaining 96 people.

Police checked the identities of a total 4,062 people, 1,391 of them non-Czechs in the crackdown.

Several thousand young women from all over eastern Europe, notably Ukraine and the Balkans, are employed in erotic clubs and brothels, particularly near the border with Germany and in Prague and its suburbs.

Between 10,000 and 25,000 women work as prostitutes in the Czech republic, according to different sources.

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Created: November 19, 2003
Last modified: January 15, 2004
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