Prostitution also called sex commerce or trade can involve human trafficking as well as the use of children. International, federal, state and local laws regulate prostitution.
To consult State Legislation regarding prostitution laws and regulations please see the Criminal Code by State page.
Human Trafficking and Prostitution Law - US
- DOJ - Human Trafficking
Trafficking in persons is a heinous crime and human rights abuse. The most vulnerable members of the global community, those who have limited access to social services and protections, are targeted by traffickers for exploitation. Steps have been taken, however, to locate victims, reinstate their inherent rights, provide them with protection and services, and prosecute offenders.
- FBI - Innocence Lost - Child Prostitution
In June 2003, the FBI in conjunction with the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children launched the Innocence Lost National Initiative. Their combined efforts were aimed at addressing the growing problem of domestic sex trafficking of children in the United States.
- Prostitution - Overview
Prostitution is illegal in all states except Nevada, where it is strictly regulated. Some state statutes punish the act of prostitution, and other state statutes criminalize the acts of soliciting prostitution, arranging for prostitution, and operating a house of prostitution. On the federal level, the Mann Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 2421 [as amended 1986] makes it a crime to transport a person in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of prostitution or for any other immoral purpose.
- State Prostitution Laws
Prostitution is illegal in the United States with the exception of 11 Nevada counties. On Nov. 3, 2009, Rhode Island closed a legal loophole that had allowed indoor prostitution to exist since 1980.
- The Mann Act
The Mann Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2421 et seq., prohibits transporting any individual in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or other sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, and related crimes. The Child and Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division is responsible for supervision of the Act.
- US Federal Prostitution Laws and Related Punishments
Presentation of federal laws on prostitution within the United States. Prostitution is illegal in the United States with the exception of 11 Nevada counties. On Nov. 3, 2009, Rhode Island closed a legal loophole that had allowed indoor prostitution to exist since 1980.
- US Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act
The original and reauthorized versions of the U.S. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act are included here in full text and in summation. In addition, international conventions and protocols related to human rights, the human rights of women, slavery, human trafficking, and organized crime are presented.
Human Trafficking and Prostitution Law - International
- Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-International (CATW)
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-International (CATW) is a non-governmental organization that promotes women's human rights by working internationally to combat sexual exploitation in all its forms. Founded in 1988, CATW was the first international non-governmental organization to focus on human trafficking, especially sex trafficking of women and girls. CATW obtained Category II Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1989.
- Commercial Sex Information Service (CSIS) - Canada
The Commercial Sex Information Service (CSIS) is a clearinghouse of information about laws, sexual health, commerce and culture as these topics relate to sex work.
- Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
The Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation was compiled from media, non-governmental organization and government reports. It is an initial effort to collect facts, statistics and known cases on global sexual exploitation. Information is organized into four categories: Trafficking, Prostitution, Pornography, and Organized and Institutionalized Sexual Exploitation and Violence.
- HumantTrafficking.org - East Asia and Pacific
The purpose of this Web site is to bring Government and NGOs in the East Asia and Pacific together to cooperate and learn from each other’s experiences in their efforts to combat human trafficking. This Web site has country-specific information such as national laws and action plans and contact information on useful governmental agencies. It also has a description of NGO activities in different countries and their contact information.
- International Prostitutes Collective
Since 1975, the International Prostitutes Collective has been campaigning for the abolition of the prostitution laws which criminalize sex workers and our families, and for economic alternatives and higher benefits and wages. No woman, child or man should be forced by poverty or violence into sex with anyone. We provide information, help and support to individual prostitute women and others who are concerned with sex workers’ human, civil, legal and economic rights.
- Sex Work and Sexual Exploitation in the European Union
This site aims to provide a useful reference to Sex Work in Europe. It gives a brief description of the de jure and de facto situations in each of the 15 EU Member States, and drawing primarily on web resources it guides the user through the essential debates, providing up to date reference. Following the site's progression through background arguments surrounding sex work, leads to the argument that in the control of sex work lies an answer to Europe's sexual exploitation problem.
Child Prostitution, Slavery, Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking
- Child Sex Tourism - ECPAT
ECPAT began as a campaign against child prostitution in Asian tourism, which is closely tied to the issue of child sex tourism as, respectively, the supply and demand side of the same phenomenon. Since the early 1990s, ECPAT International and many member groups of the ECPAT network around the world have worked with the tourism and travel industry to raise awareness and to take practical measures against children being sexually abused. Partnerships have been established with the hotel industry, tour operators, and other members of the tourism sector for the prevention of child sex tourism. Technical support is provided by ECPAT to assist the tourism industry, as well as governmental and international agencies.
- Childern of the Night - Saving Children from Prostitution
Children of the Night is a private, non-profit, tax-exempt organization founded in 1979. We are dedicated to assisting children between the ages of 11 and 17 who are forced to prostitute on the streets for food to eat and a place to sleep. Since 1979 we have rescued girls and boys from prostitution and the domination of vicious pimps. And we provide all programs with the support of private donations.
- CRIN - Report on the Sexual Exploitation of Children
Guided by our passion for social and legal change, CRIN has built a global network for children's rights. We press for rights, not charity, and advocate for a genuine systemic shift in how governments and societies view children. Our inspiration is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which we use to bring children's rights to the top of the international agenda. We launch advocacy campaigns, lead international children's rights coalitions, and strive to make existing human rights enforcement mechanisms accessible for all.
- DOJ - Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS)
Welcome to the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) website. Created in 1987, the mission of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) is to protect the welfare of America’s children and communities by enforcing federal criminal statutes relating to the exploitation of children and obscenity.
- End Child Prostitution and Trafficking - ECPAT International
ECPAT International is a global network of organisations and individuals working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
- Free the Children - Sexual Exploitation
One of the most important campaigns that Free The Children is involved in is protecting children from sexual exploitation. Because of their special vulnerability children are easy targets for sexual exploitation. When you add to the mix the issue of poverty and a child’s wish to support his or her family, this vulnerability is increased many times over. It is sad fact that thousands of vulnerable children every day are being forced into prostitution, being exploited through pornography and trafficked –bought and sold– for sexual purposes. All of these realities are common and prevalent both in developed and developing countries: no society is immune.
- Legislation of Interpol Member States - Sexual Offences Against Children
In order to set up a base document regarding legislation of the member countries of the International Criminal Police Organization - Interpol on child sex abuse, we asked member countries to provide us with a summary of the applicable legal texts regarding these offences.
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s® (NCMEC) mission is to help prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; help find missing children; and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them. NCMEC was established in 1984 as a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization to provide services nationwide for families and professionals in the prevention of abducted, endangered, and sexually exploited children.
- Stop Child Slavery
Child slavery is a problem larger than most are willing to admit. We need more voices crying out for it’s end. We need more people awakened to the horrors inflicted on our innocents. We need to make a stand and call out for others to make a stand as well. We need education. We need action.
- UNICEF - Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse
UNICEF’s child protection programmes aim to prevent and respond to violence, exploitation and abuse against children. The programmes also target children who are uniquely vulnerable to these abuses, such as when living without parental care, in conflict with the law and in armed conflict.
- World Vision - Fighting Child Trafficking
As an international aid Christian humanitarian organization, World Vision works in nearly 100 countries around the globe, combating the root causes of poverty and responding quickly when disaster strikes. We partner with communities to find lasting ways of improving the lives of children and their families while providing international disaster relief.
Organizations Related to Prostitution Law
- Open Society Institute - Sexual Health and Rights Project (SHARP)
OSI’s Sexual Health and Rights Project (SHARP) was launched in 2005 with an aim to increase access to health care and advance the health-related rights of those who are marginalized because of their sexual practices, sexual orientation and/ or gender identity. This includes work with sex workers and sexual minorities, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex, and transgender persons. SHARP works towards this mission by building the capacity of civil society leaders and groups to effectively address the health of these populations and advocating for accountability and a strong civil society role in the design and implementation of rights-based policies and practices that have the most impact on the health of sex workers and sexual minorities.
- Prostitutes' Education Network
The Prostitutes' Education Network is an information service about legislative and cultural issues as they effect prostitutes and other sex workers. The service is comprised of information for sex workers and activists/educators who study issues of decriminalization, human rights in the context of prostitution, violence against prostitutes and women, sex workers and pornography, as well as current trends in legislation and social policy in the U.S. and internationally.
- Prostitution Research & Education (PRE)
Prostitution Research & Education (PRE) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that conducts research on prostitution, pornography and trafficking, and offers education and consultation to researchers, survivors, the public and policymakers. PRE’s goal is to abolish the institution of prostitution while at the same time advocating for alternatives to trafficking and prostitution - including emotional and physical healthcare for women in prostitution. The roots of prostitution are in men’s assumptions that they are entitled to buy women for sex, and in racism, and women’s poverty.
- WomensLaw.org - Prostitution
WomensLaw.org was founded in February 2000 by a group of lawyers, teachers, advocates, and web designers interested in seeing the power of the Internet work for more disadvantaged people and specifically for survivors of domestic violence. We pulled together our experiences and resources and launched this website in October 2001. WomensLaw.org changed its formal name from Women's Law Initiative in 2005.
Publications Related to Prostitution Law
- ABA - Prostitution Publications
Various articles on prostitution, human trafficking and sex workers.
- CDC - Prostitution Health Issues and Articles - STD's and HIV
The Center for Disease Control provides a list of articles, surveys and reports on STD's, HIV and the sex trade; a high risk group for transmitting or becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases.
- FAQ'S on Child Prostitutes
Child prostitution is international in scope. Pimps have become more sophisticated in recruiting and harboring the children they force to prostitute, moving their victims from state to state, often forcing them to work as prostitutes outside the larger cities and in small towns where police are unfamiliar with the operations of child prostitution rings.
Articles on HG.org Related to Prostitution Law
- Alexis Wright the Zumba Teacher in Maine Faces a Prostitution ChargeIf you have been charged with or are the subject of a prostitution investigation you need to hire a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney or a Miami criminal defense attorney immediately to help you navigate the prostitution laws in Florida. Alexis Wright is a 29 year old Zumba instructor who lives and works in Kennebunk, Maine. As she taught her Zumba classes she developed a side line of offering prostitution services to the men in her community.
- What Is Penal Code § 647(b), Prostitution and Solicitation for Prostitution?California Penal Code § 647(b) prohibits one from willfully engaging in a sexual act in exchange for money or other goods or services (typically drugs). This seemingly broad definition does not include pimping and pandering, which are separately addressed (Penal Code § 266 and 266i) or indecent exposure (Penal Code § 314). The scope of § 647(b) includes both the prostitute and the customer, also known as a “john.”
- Maryland Needs More Effective Drug Sentencing LawsAll too frequently relatively innocent people are caught in a system that makes prison time the answer to a drug problem. Abandoning or modifying mandatory minimum drug sentencing in Maryland may be the only way to correct that injustice.
- Prostitution and Patronizing a Prostitute in New YorkYou can be charged with prostitution if you engage in, agree to engage in, or offer to engage in sexual acts with another person in return for money. Prostitution is a class B misdemeanor, with a potential sentence of not more than 90 days in jail.
- Minnesota Prostitution MythsWe've put together a list of 4 common myths about prostitution in Minnesota. - Myth: Only new clients can be undercover cops. Fact: Police often use hobbyists who have already been arrested to pose as people looking for sex in prostitution stings.
- Sex CrimesEveryone is aware of the fact that victims of sexual abuse are in need of protection and defense. However, the forgotten victims are often those who were falsely accused of a crime they did not commit. Sexual assault, or rape, is treated very seriously as it is considered a violent crime. By definition, it is performing a sexual act against another without their consent.
- Your Rights after an Arrest for Prostitution or SolicitationCharges for prostitution in can lead to many different kinds of penalties. It is very helpful to be made aware of your rights if you have been charged with prostitution or solicitation.
- Pandering Conviction Upheld Even When Victim is Already a ProstituteWhile it may seem counterintuitive to some, one can be convicted of pandering in violation of California Penal Code § 266i(a)(2) even when the “victim” is already a prostitute, or at least represents herself to be one. Indeed, section 266i(a)(2) reads: Any person who by promises, threats, violence, or by any device or scheme, causes, induces, persuades or encourages another to become a prostitute is guilty of pandering.
- Beware: Living with a Prostitute Can Be Illegal and Land You in PrisonIn Solano County, California, Defendant Sean ali Grant was convicted of pimping under Penal Code § 266h(a), as well as assault with a deadly weapon (§ 245(a)(1), corporal injury to a cohabitant (§ 273.5(a)) and false imprisonment by violence (§ 236). He was sentenced to five years in state prison.
- Sexual Offenses Lead to Criminal ConsequencesWhen a person is guilty of committing a sexual offense, they face criminal consequences. In some cases they may be required to register as a sex offender – which can have devastating effects on their personal and professional life.
- All Criminal Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Criminal Law including: arson, assault, battery, bribery, burglary, child abuse, child pornography, computer crime, controlled substances, credit card fraud, criminal defense, criminal law, drugs and narcotics, DUI, DWI, embezzlement, fraud, expungements, felonies, homicide, identity theft, manslaughter, money laundering, murder, perjury, prostitution, rape, RICO, robbery, sex crimes, shoplifting, theft, weapons, white collar crime and wire fraud.