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Czech Republic: Prostitution bill ignores sex workers' rights

ČTK | 22 September 2011
Prague, Sept 21 (CTK) - The Czech bill on prostitution does not take into account the rights of those who offer sexual services, unlike the respective laws in other Western countries, experts from foreign universities agreed at a conference in Prague yesterday.

The law should not only address the needs of the state and municipalities but also of those of the prostitutes, namely protect them against violence, remove the stigma of being unacceptable from them and give them more rights in relation to their clients, the experts said.

However, the participants in the conference appreciated that the bill setting the rules for prostitution in the Czech Republic has been gradually developing.

Blanka Hancilova, analyst at the University of Vienna, said the latest version of the Czech bill on prostitution plans to introduce repressions against prostitutes. She said she believes this would not lead to a long-term solution of the problem.

Hancilova said municipalities should seek ways of reintegration of prostitutes into society instead of forcing them out of their centres.

According to the latest proposal worked out by Prague authorities, prostitution should be a legal profession, persons offering sexual services would get registered and receive certificates as well as pay taxes and undergo regular medical examinations and face fines if they violated the rules.

Barbara Havelkova, from the Law Faculty at Oxford University, said it turned out that only approximately one-tenth of prostitutes abroad were able to legalise their job because most of them do not meet the required criteria.

The introduction of compulsory medical check-ups has not improved the situation either as clients and pimps force prostitutes with medical certificates to have sex without condoms far more often, Havelkova said.

She recalled that Germany cancelled the compulsory medical check-ups in 2006 but introduced anonymous testing for venereal diseases.

Petr Pipal, mayor of Dubi, a small town near the border with Germany that was swarming with prostitutes in the 1990s, said Dubi authorities succeeded in driving prostitutes out of the town's main street and it also focused on the clients.

According to Pipal, more than 1000 prostitutes worked on the short strip of the main road between Dubi and the border crossing and 39 brothels operated in the town in the 1990s.

Pipal said Czech municipalities are lacking a general regulation defining how they may proceed when trying to limit prostitution.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) recently rejected the possibility of taxation being imposed on prostitution, saying the state is not a pimp. Public Affairs (junior ruling VV) would like prostitution to become legal, while the third coalition party, TOP 09, is against the idea.

Source:  Czech News Agency (ČTK)