Human trafficking in the EU Member States and elsewhere is an overwhelming problem that has become wider and wider in the past few years. As estimates suggest, more than 2.4 million persons suffer deprivation of their basic human rights and their lives are often at risk as victims.
In the EU Member States national policies on prostitution differ greatly: from criminalization of prostitution (and/or of clients) to its regulation. It is likely that specific approaches to prostitution have an impact both on the quantitative dimension (i.e. the number of victims) and the qualitative dimension of human trafficking for sexual exploitation (i.e. how recruitment, transportation and exploitation are performed). National prostitution policies can be grouped as follows:
- Abolitionism: Outdoor and indoor prostitution are not prohibited. The State decides to tolerate prostitution and not to intervene on it. Prostitution by adults is not subject to punishment, but profiting from another person’s prostitution is, however, criminalised.
- New Abolitionism: Outdoor prostitution (i.e. streets, parks, etc.) and indoor prostitution (i.e. saunas, massage parlours, etc.) are not prohibited. Compared to the abolitionist model, in such an approach national legislation takes a more precise stand as for indoor prostitution, since it explicitly prohibits the creation or management of brothels (in the abolitionism, such a prohibition can be only drawn from the general legislative pattern).
- Criminalization: A country falls under this model if outdoor and indoor prostitution are prohibited. Parties involved in prostitution can be liable to penalties, including, in some cases, the clients.
- Regulation: Outdoor and indoor prostitution are regulated by the State. Prostitutes are often registered by local authorities and are in some cases obliged to undergo medical controls.
As for the EU, after the recent enlargement to Croatia, Member States are equally distributed into the four above models:
- Abolitionism: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain.
- New abolitionism: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Luxembourg.
- Criminalization: Croatia, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Sweden.
- Regulation: Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands, United Kingdom.