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Prostitution is big business in Europe. By some estimates, the number of prostitutes across the European Union's 28 members states ranges between , and as many as 1. While prostitution has a long history in Europe, it's legality varies from country to country. In countries like Germany and Greece, the sex trade is fully legalized and regulated, whereas is many northern European countries like Sweden, it is illegal to buy sex, but not illegal to sell it. Brothels and red-light districts have been a part of major European cities like Amsterdam and Hamburg for decades and, in some cases, centuries.
But the current era of prostitution began around when the Netherlands became one of the first major European countries to formalize prostitution's legality and regulate it like any other industry. Germany, Greece, and others followed suit, though Switzerland has had fully legal prostitution since Legalizing and regulating prostitution was supposed to make the trade safer for sex workers, helping them access critical health and government services, but by most accounts, it mostly resulted in turning prostitution a major industry with hotel-sized brothels, brothel chains, and a cash cow of tax revenue.
Source: The Independent. Source: Dignity , Spokesman. Source: PRI. Source: New York Times. Source: USAToday. Source: BZ Berlin. Source: DW. Source: The Telegraph. Source: Foreign Policy. Source: Sputnik News. Search icon A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search". Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Business Insider. While laws vary, Europe has a more permissive attitude towards prostitution than in the US.
In other countries, it is legal but not regulated. For most Americans, prostitution in Europe likely calls to mind Amsterdam's red-light district. In , the Netherlands was one of the first countries to legalize and regulate prostitution Though the Netherlands began regulating prostitution in , the sex trade was more or less tolerated for decades before. The idea behind legalizing the trade was that it would it would root out organized crime, limit human trafficking, improve worker access to healthcare, and make sex work safer.
While prostitution has been legal in Switzerland since and is protected by the constitution, Petit Fleur, the first legal brothel, didn't open until Typically, sex workers work in a brothel or buy a daily "ticket" to sell sex in designated street areas.