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background on sex-work regulation in Hungary

According to MPEE, there are about 15000 prostitutes in Hungary. A great number of them work along busy city roads or in the outskirts of bigger cities. Others work in flats, which they rent or own. Prostitution is a legal activity in Hungary. A prostitute can be an entrepreneur paying his/her taxes and pension fund as well as contributing to the national health system.

Even though prostitutes pay taxes just as any other professionals in the country, they are still subjected to discrimination and marginalization. Moreover, though prostitution is legal in Hungary, there are laws around prostitution, which treat prostitution much harsher than any other profession. First of all, Hungary signed the New York agreement, therefore procurement is illegal: even if a prostitute rents a flat from a landlord, the landlord can be charged with procurement. Advertisement of sexual services directly via internet or newspapers is not allowed. Street workers can work only in special zones where sexual services are allowed. These "tolerance zones" have to be at a certain distance from cemeteries, schools, churches, hospitals, etc… In towns and cities, where the population is more than 50000, the local authorities are obliged to determine the borders of these special zones. In practice, many local authorities simply omitted to do so. It is common practice, that police pick on street prostitute for garbage on the streets of “tolerance zones” holding them responsible for all sorts of street trash.

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