Prostitution in Uruguay

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Prostitution in Uruguay was legislated in 2002 through the sex work law (17.515).[1] Before that, prostitution was unlegislated but it was not illegal, since the constitution allows any activity that is not forbidden by law.[2]

Prostitution must be performed in brothels (in Uruguay they have many names like “whiskerias” or “casas de masajes”). Police and municipal government are in charge of determining in which areas brothels may exist considering the characteristics of the place. However brothels may not function near schools or high schools.

Usually brothels use a red light as distinctive, or have discrete announcements with the name of the establishment and a suggestive phrase to attract clients.

In order to open, a brothel must have the authorization of the municipal government and the state police and follow certain rules dictated by the ministry or public health .

Minors are not allowed to enter brothels, in addition of performing any kind of activity inside.

As any commercial establishment brothels pay taxes and have social security obligations

Both, males and females over the age of 18 can work as prostitutes. Sex works must enroll the national sex work register, this demands an initial and periodical health checks focus in the prevention, detection and treatments of STDS.

The register gives the worker a license which is necessary to work in brothels. All data from the register is confidential.

As any worker in Uruguay sex workers are protected by social security laws.

Despite this, many sex workers work on the streets or independently and not always have health checks.

Violation to the sex work law is punishable with fines. Pimping, commercial sexual exploitation of adults and minors is illegal and severely punished.[3] The government often lunches campaigns to persuade tourists and residents of hiring or promoting minors prostitution.[4]

Prostitution is currently not a subject of debate.

There is a worrying presence of Dominican prostitutes in Uruguay who took advantage of a formerly liberal immigration policy.


  1. ^ "Law 16.832: Sex labour" (in Spanish). Parliament of Uruguay. July 9, 2002. Archived from the original on January 26, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Constitution of Uruguay, article 10" (in Spanish). 2004. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2015. (...) No inhabitant of the Republic will be obliged to do what the law does not demand nor deprived of what it does not prohibit. 
  3. ^ "Law 8080: Criminal code. Repression of the crime of pimping and related offenses" (in Spanish). Parliament of Uruguay. June 1, 1927. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  4. ^ "“No hay excusas”, la campaña de Inau y contra la explotación sexual de niños y jóvenes" (in Spanish). El Observador. April 9, 2013. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013.