Prostitution is an internationally controversial topic, yet the majority of countries allow legalized prostitution or partial legalization like the United States where eight rural counties in Nevada run legal brothels. A simple Internet search will turn up thousands of articles and websites devoted to the legalization of prostitution. While there is much less information about the legality of pimping, there are several countries that allow men to make a living from pimping women. Pimping is legal in nine countries: Bangladesh, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Legal Pimps as Human Traffickers
Both prostitution and pimping are legal in Nicaragua and Bangladesh but left unregulated by the government. In Nicaragua, prostitution is legal for persons 14 and over but the age of consent is 18. Through these ill-conceived laws, children can legally be forced into sex work under the control of a pimp. This is as shocking as it is confusing: how can a 14 year old be paid for consensual sex that she won’t be old enough to give consent for until she is 18 years old? In Bangladesh there are laws against the trafficking of minors under the age of 18, but if the victim is over the age of 18 then there aren’t any laws to protect them. Pimping is legal and most pimps still operate as exploitative traffickers in Nicaragua and Bangladesh without fear of reprisal due to the strong patriarchal society.
Pimps as Managers
In Germany and the Netherlands, being employed as a pimp is legal as long as there is not any exploitative behavior or coercion. In 2002, Germany legalized prostitution, creating an industry now thought to be worth 16 billion euros a year. Young women from lower income countries in Eastern Europe like Romania and Bulgaria come to work in the German brothels leading to Germany being dubbed a Paradise for Pimps. Critics of legalized prostitution claim that due to the income disparity the pimps are still exploiting the women, regardless if they chose to be prostitutes or not. When the Netherlands legalized prostitution in 2000, they also reclassified pimpsas managers and businessmen. In both Germany and the Netherlands, the goal of making sex work safe for women has legitimized the role of the exploiter. The name of the pimp may have changed but the job description has not: to procure and sell women for sexual services.