Prostitution in Turkey

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Prostitution in Turkey is legal and regulated. The secularization of Turkish society allowed prostitution to achieve legal status during the early 20th century. Known as "general houses" (genelevler) in the country, brothels must receive permits from the government in order to operate. In turn, the regulatory agencies issue identity cards to sex workers that give them rights to some free medical care and other social services.[1] However, many local governments now have a policy of not issuing new registrations, and in some cities, such as Ankara and Bursa, brothels have been demolished by court order.[citation needed]

According to the research of professor Donna M. Hughes the largest group of foreign women involved into prostitution in Turkey are Ukrainian sex-workers.[2][3]

Legal status[edit]

Prostitution in Turkey is regulated under article 227 of the Turkish Penal Code (Law No. 5237).[4] Promoting prostitution is punishable by two months to four years' imprisonment. The passport law[5] forbids entry to Turkey for the purposes of prostitution.

Brothels (Genelev) are legal and licensed under health laws dealing with Sexually transmitted infections.[6] Women need to be registered and acquire an ID card stating the dates of their health checks. It is mandatory for registered prostitutes to undergo regular health checks for sexually transmitted diseases, and the use of condoms is mandatory.[7] The police are allowed to check the authenticity of registered prostitutes to determine whether they have been examined properly and to ensure they see the health authorities if they don't. However, men cannot register under this regulation. Most prostitutes, however, are unregistered, as local governments have made it policy not to issue new registrations.[8][9]

Other regulations affecting prostitutes in Turkey include the Misdemeanor Law, Article 32.[10] However, the application of this law has been quite controversial.[11] In some cities, such as Ankara and Bursa, brothels have been demolished by court order.[12][13]

Illegal prostitution[edit]

Illegal prostitution is classified as operating a brothel without being licensed, being a prostitute without having health checkups, being a prostitute without having a license, or being a prostitute without being registered. Operating of illegal prostitution is punishable with a maximum of 1 year's imprisonment.

Strip clubs[edit]

Strip clubs are also present in current Turkey. Strip clubs must also be licensed and strippers must be registered and have regular health checkups. All persons entering strip clubs must be at least 18 years old.

Sex workers' rights[edit]

In 2008, activists and sex workers in Turkey announced they were working on a project to establish Turkey's first sex workers' union.


Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) report (2004)[14]
Item Census data
The number of prostitutes 100,000
prostitutes are registered in 56 brothels operating 3,000
prostitutes registered with the police 15,000
women waiting to get licenses 30,000
age of prostitution between 18 and 40
annual turnover $3–4 billion

Sex trafficking[edit]

Turkey is a top destination for victims of human trafficking in relation to the sex trade, according to a report produced by the UNDOC.[15] Source countries for identified victims of trafficking in 2008 included Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Romania, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Bulgaria, and Indonesia. Notably, Russian organized crime syndicates engage in trafficking of women for prostitution, and Russian and Ukrainian women have turned up in many European countries, including Turkey.[16] According to reports appearing in 2006, the country was quickly becoming one of the largest markets for sex slaves from former Soviet states: "Around 5,000 women, more than half from Moldova and Ukraine, are believed to be working as sex slaves across Turkey."[17]

The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks Turkey as a 'Tier 2' country.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Craig S. Smith (26 June 2005). "Turkey's Growing Sex Trade Snares Many Slavic Women". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Donna M. Hughes (2010). "The "Natasha" Trade: The Transnational Shadow Market of Trafficking in Women". In Leonard Territo, George Kirkham (ed.). International Sex Trafficking of Women & Children: Understanding the Global Epidemic. Political Science. Looseleaf Law Publications. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-932777-86-4.
  3. ^ James O. Finckenauer (2007). "The Problem of Human Trafficking". Mafia and Organized Crime. True Crime. London: Oneworld Publications. p. 153. ISBN 978-1-85168-526-4.
  4. ^ Turkish Penal Code (Türk Ceza Kanunu)
  5. ^ Passport Law, No. 5682 (Pasaport Kanunu)
  6. ^ "Genel Kadinlar Ve Genelevleri̇n Tabi̇ Olacaklari Hükümler Ve Fuhuş Yüzünden Bulaşan Zührevi̇ Hastaliklarla Mücadele Tüzüğü" [General Regulations regarding Brothels and Prostitution and the Fight Against Venereal Disease No: 30/03/1961 - 5/984]. Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Turkey (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 1 March 2011.
  7. ^ Özaşçılar, Mine; Ziyalar, Neylan (2015). "Framing Prostitution in Turkey: News Media Coverage of Prostitution" (PDF). International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences (IJCJS). Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  8. ^ US State Department Human Rights Reports: Turkey 2002
  9. ^ Turkey's sex trade entraps Slavic women. New York Times June 27 2005
  10. ^ Kabahatler Kanunu No 5326. Ministry of Justice Archived 2011-02-24 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Yolda bekleyenin amacı fuhuş mu, kim bilecek? NTVMSNBC July 1 2007
  12. ^ "Ankara genelevinde yıkım sürüyor". T24. 24 September 2010. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012.
  13. ^ Kamulaştırılan genelevlerde yıkım. Posta Sept 24 2010
  14. ^ Zaharie, Cristian Giuseppe Ph.D. "The legal regime of prostitution on the Muslim countries" (PDF). Romanian-American University. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  15. ^ "UN highlights human trafficking". BBC News. 2007-03-26. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  16. ^ Kyle, David; Rey Koslowski (2001). Global human smuggling: comparative perspectives. JHU Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-8018-6590-9. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  17. ^ Zaman, Amberin (31 January 2006). "Sex slave trade is burgeoning in Turkey, report says". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  18. ^ "Turkey 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018.