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" 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. 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.
Prostitution in Turkey is regulated under article 227 of the Turkish Penal Code (Law No. 5237). Promoting prostitution is punishable by two months to four years' imprisonment. The passport law forbids entry to Turkey for the purposes of prostitution.
Brothels (Genelev) are legal and licensed under health laws dealing with Sexually transmitted infections. 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. 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.
Other regulations affecting prostitutes in Turkey include the Misdemeanor Law, Article 32. However, the application of this law has been quite controversial. In some cities, such as Ankara and Bursa, brothels have been demolished by court order.
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 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.
In 2008, activists and sex workers in Turkey announced they were working on a project to establish Turkey's first sex workers' union.
|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|
Turkey is a top destination for victims of human trafficking in relation to the sex trade, according to a report produced by the UNDOC. 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. 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."
The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks Turkey as a 'Tier 2' country.