While the business of prostitution is technically prohibited in the Czech Republic – organized prostitution including brothels is officially illegal – the state has long turned a blind eye to the practice.
According to a study by the Czech Ministry of Interior earlier this decade, there were 860 brothels operating in the country, and 200 in Prague alone, that may (or may not) comply with the letter of the law but certainly not its spirit.
That has resulted in an estimated 13,000 prostitutes in the Czech Republic according to recent reports, many of whom operate in what is currently a legal gray area.
That should change, says the Czech Pirate party, as reported by iDnes.cz. Beyond providing much-needed assistance for those who currently engaged in the prostitution business and public health benefits (HIV rates decreased by 16% in Switzerland after government regulation of prostitution), regulation could also mean big business for the state.
“We want to address an area that has not been addressed for a long time and which is still problematic in many parts of the Czech Republic,” Jakub Michálek, Pirate party representative in the Czech Chamber of Deputies, said when introducing his party’s proposal.
“The number of people consistently providing sexual services in the Czech Republic is estimated at 13,000 people, of which 56% are single mothers.”
“This means that there are approximately 7,300 women in the Czech Republic in this situation, and because we have obsolete laws today, these women do not have health insurance, they have no pension insurance, they do not have legal security for their income, and therefore they are not not even able to purchase their own housing, no credit, no mortgage.”
The Pirate Party’s solution is a long-term plan: first, the Czech Republic must denounce the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, which was enacted in 1951 and signed by 82 countries throughout the world.
This 70-year-old convention officially regulates the laws regarding prostitution amongst its signatories, which include the Czech Republic.
Years later, laws regulating the business of prostitution in the Czech Republic would be drawn up and submitted for government approval by the Ministry of the Interior.
The prostitution business turns over an estimated 8 billion crowns every year in the Czech Republic. Taxation could result in billions of crowns for the state.
“One billion crowns could pay lunches for hundreds of thousands of children […] if we were to regulate prostitution,” Michálek said, referring to a recently-debated program for free school lunches that has since been abandoned.
The Pirates’ plan may has support both within and outside the government, according to Michálek. Representatives from ČSSD (including former Minister of Justice Helena Válková and Prague’s Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek), TOP09, and various NGOs that deal with those involved in prostitution.
While the Czech Pirates may have been seen as a fringe party a decade ago, they have quickly grown to become one of the country’s more visible parties, especially in the capital city.
The Czech Pirate party’s members include Prague’s new mayor Zdeněk Hřib, who was sworn into office late last year.