Prostitution in Latvia

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Prostitution in Latvia is legal and regulated.[1][2] The country is a destination for sex tourism.[3]

Sex trafficking,[4] child prostitution,[5] and HIV[6] are all problems in Latvia.

Legal situation[edit]

Prostitutes must have reached age of majority and receive a health card from a Venereologist and undergo health check every month, they must be able to produce the health card on clients request. A prostitute may not provide services while having herpes infection, Dermatophytosis, pubic lice, gonococcal infection, chlamydia, scabies, leprosy or syphilis. A person who has HIV infection is banned from providing sexual services.[7]

Although prostitution is regulated in Latvia, brothels and other forms of procuring are illegal. Persons are prohibited to join in groups in order to offer and provide sexual services for fee or to receive orders for sexual services. The managers of entertainment and recreational establishments must ensure that sexual services for fee are not offered, provided and received in their establishments.[7]

According to the law "Any activity of the third person which promotes prostitution is prohibited" and "Persons are prohibited to join in groups in order to offer and provide sexual services..."[7] The prostitutes may only operate in a residence rented or owned by them. However, they may not provide services if neighbours object. Furthermore, the residence may not be closer than one hundred meters from a school or a church. Any violation of restrictions on prostitution is punished by a fine in an amount up to 500 latvian lats for a person and up to 1000 lats for a company.[8]

Sex tourism[edit]

The country is a destination for sex tourism.[3][9][10] The capital, Riga, is a common destination for stag parties looking for a "good time".[3][9][10]

Buy Bye Beauty[edit]

Buy Bye Beauty is a 2001 documentary film by Swedish director and performance artist Pål Hollender. The film is about the way Latvian sex industry and its being fuelled by businessmen and sex tourists from Sweden visiting Riga. The film was shot in Riga in July 2000.

Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga called it "political propaganda",[11] Prime Minister Andris Bērziņš suggested that an international criminal case could be started against the film's makers.[12]

Hollender claimed that police worked as part time pimps and there was corruption in the police force generally.[11] He also claimed there were 15,000 - 18,000 prostitutes in Riga. Official figures were, at the time, between 3,000 and 4,000 in the country with 80 percent in Riga.[11]


Latvia has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the European Union.[13] Sex workers are one of the high risk groups.[14] The EU's BORDERNET estimated a HIV prevalence of 22.2% amongst sex workers in 2016.[6]

Sex trafficking[edit]

Latvia is a source country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Latvian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Latvia and other parts of Europe. Government agencies note an increase in child sex trafficking cases over the past few years. Latvian women recruited for brokered marriages in Western Europe, particularly Ireland, are vulnerable to sex trafficking.[4]

Sections 154-1 and 154-2 of its criminal law prohibit all forms of trafficking and prescribe a maximum penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment. Trafficking crimes could be charged under section 164, which criminalises exploiting individuals' vulnerability or using deceit to involve them in prostitution—a scenario very similar to sex trafficking—but prescribes punishments as lenient as community service or a fine. A 20-officer state police unit specialises in investigating trafficking, sham marriages, and related crimes.[4]

The government initiated prosecutions of 11 sex trafficking suspects under section 154 1 in 2016 (eight in 2015). Courts convicted four traffickers under section 154-1; all received conditional sentences resulting in no prison time. Courts concluded a 2011 case involving a police officer charged with facilitating pimping and taking bribes; he was sentenced to four years in prison. A case from 2014 involving two Riga police officers charged with facilitating pimping remained in pre-trial investigation at the end of the reporting period.[4]

The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks Latvia as a 'Tier 2' country.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sex Work Law - Countries". Sexuality, Poverty and Law. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  2. ^ "100 Countries and Their Prostitution Policies". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Riga: The European City of Sex Tourism ? | Latvia Documentary | Reckon Talk". Reckon Talk. 22 November 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Latvia 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2018. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ "Sexual Exploitation of Children in Latvia, Research Report from Riga Christian Street Children Centre | Child Abuse and Neglect in Eastern Europe". CANEE. 27 July 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Latvia 2016 Country factsheet". UNAIDS. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Regulations Regarding Restriction of Prostitution".
  8. ^ "Latvijas Administratīvo pārkāpumu kodekss". Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  9. ^ a b "Latvians worried about sex tourism". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
  10. ^ a b "Latvia prepares for a tourist invasion". BBC. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
  11. ^ a b c Johansson, Jorgen (22 February 2001). "Bye, bye ethics". Baltic Times. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Latvian sex industry controversy". CER. 26 February 2001. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  13. ^ курс (17 March 2017). "Number of new HIV cases in Latvia down in 2016". Baltic States news & analytics. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Country mission Latvia: HIV, sexually transmitted infections and hepatitis B and C" (PDF). European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. September 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2018.