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Как обычно, выиграл поверхностный закон

Brave leadership indeed, isn’t it? But it may come down, in essence, to the old axiom of 12-step recovery programs everywhere: The first step is admitting you have a problem.

With thousands of brothels operating in the Czech Republic and thousands more prostitutes working the streets, it’s likely that lawmakers in Parliament pass by them daily on their way to work. Yet Czech law does not recognize the oldest profession as anything within its purview. It has taken years of appeals through legal channels for the Constitutional Court to finally rule, as it did March 8, that municipalities have the right to regulate prostitution, a legal precedent. Many towns, such as Ústí nad Labem, Cheb and Dubí, fighting to protect their streets from becoming open-air brothels, passed ordinances curbing the practice years ago, but, until now, these have been subject to appeal.

In the meantime, Parliament has endlessly debated a comprehensive law to deal with prostitution, but we still await its passage. Organizations such as La Strada, with substantial experience in combating human trafficking, argue that allowing a ban on prostitution in public places only punishes the working women, having no effect on the pimps who make all the real money.

Teplice Mayor Jaroslav Kubera points out that his town needed no court ruling to indicate the way forward. Having passed a law banning street prostitution in 2000, the city later repealed it because, as he says, “it did not solve anything.” Kubera, for one, would like to see prostitutes recognized as legal workers, as they are in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and France and across Scandinavia, who then would have to pay taxes — which would amount to substantial revenues badly needed in many lackluster border towns — and be required to see a doctor regularly to ensure their own health and that of their customers, he told The Prague Post. Parliament, however, seems to have little use for the advice of people with direct experience in the problems it is trying to legislate — or, in this case, is steadfastly not legislating.Because to take action would require delving into controversial waters. And, of course, having to admit there’s a problem.

The Prague Post, Czech Republic