Where in the World Is Full-Service Sex Work Legal?

Where in the World Is Full-Service Sex Work Legal?
Charlie Thompson

In certain corners of the world FSSWers are forced to operate in the shadows, walking the line between doing their jobs and bearing the brunt of punitive measures for it. In a surprising amount of places — especially to someone coming from the puritanical U.S. — laws banning sex work have been changed to reflect shifting public perception about the importance and permanence of the SW industry.

By our estimation the number of countries and territories that have in at least in one form or another legalized FSSW is 132. Some of these countries, like Cuba, had never banned the practice. Others, including the United States and Colombia, have created specific “tolerance zones” where FSSW is legal while maintaining strict anti-sex works laws outside of those districts. Some places, including Germany, Tunisia and Switzerland, have systems where SW activity is overseen by regulatory bodies. And a surprising amount of countries have shifted towards full legalization of FSSW across their lands, adding up to a marked number of at least seemingly SW-tolerant locales. 

Groups like Amnesty International support decriminalization, though theirs are not by any means guidelines that everyone seems happy with. Regardless, many countries are taking a more realistic approach to SW and countering moral panic with reality. The laws governing FSSW in these places vary wildly in effectiveness and restrictiveness, but to some degree or another these locales seem to at least be giving legal SW a shot:

Regulated FSSW Markets

  1. Eritrea
  2. Tunisia
  3. Senegal
  4. Bolivia
  5. Chile
  6. Dutch Caribbean
  7. Ecuador
  8. Turkey
  9. Hungary
  10. Latvia
  11. Austria
  12. Germany
  13. The Netherlands
  14. Switzerland
  15. Australia
  16. Norfolk Island
  17. Easter Island

FSSW Limited to Specific Locations

  1. Kenya
  2. Nigeria
  3. Argentina
  4. Colombia (regulated)
  5. United States
  6. Mexico
  7. Taiwan
  8. Indonesia

No Laws on the Books About FSSW

  1. Cape Verde
  2. Guinea-Bissau
  3. Pitcairn Islands
  4. Tokelau
  5. Tuvalu

Legal FSSW Markets

  1. Central African Republic
  2. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  3. Ethiopia
  4. Madagascar
  5. Malawi
  6. Mauritius
  7. Mozambique
  8. Reunion
  9. South Sudan
  10. Zambia
  11. Algeria
  12. Botswana
  13. Lesotho
  14. Namibia
  15. Benin
  16. Burkina Faso
  17. Ivory Coast
  18. Mali
  19. Sierra Leone
  20. Togo
  21. Antigua and Barbuda
  22. Bahamas
  23. Barbados
  24. Belize
  25. Brazil
  26. Costa Rica
  27. Cuba Dominica
  28. Dominican Republic
  29. El Salvador
  30. Guadeloupe
  31. Honduras
  32. Nicaragua
  33. Panama
  34. Paraguay
  35. Peru
  36. Trinidad and Tobago
  37. Uruguay
  38. Venezuela
  39. Bermuda
  40. Canada
  41. Guatemala
  42. Falkland Islands
  43. Paraguay
  44. Anguilla
  45. British Virgin Islands
  46. Cayman Islands
  47. Cuba 
  48. Dominica
  49. Martinique
  50. Montserrat
  51. Kyrgystan
  52. Tajikistan
  53. Hong Kong
  54. Macau
  55. Bangladesh
  56. India
  57. Malaysia
  58. Singapore
  59. East Timor
  60. Cyprus
  61. Israel
  62. Lebanon
  63. Bulgaria
  64. Czech Republic
  65. Kazakhstan
  66. Poland
  67. Romania
  68. Slovakia
  69. Denmark
  70. Estonia
  71. Finland
  72. Iceland
  73. Ireland
  74. Norway
  75. Sweden
  76. The U.K.
  77. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  78. Greece
  79. Italy
  80. Malta
  81. Portugal
  82. Macedonia
  83. Slovenia
  84. Spain
  85. Beligum
  86. France
  87. Luxembourg
  88. Monaco
  89. New Zealand
  90. Fiji
  91. New Caledonia
  92. Solomon Islands
  93. Federated States of Micronesia
  94. Kiribati
  95. Nauru
  96. Cook Islands
  97. French Polynesia
  98. Niue
  99. Tonga
  100. Wallis and Futuna