Monday, September 24, 2007
Hungary Formalizes Prostitution
Some elements of the sex trade (not including pimping or brothels) have been legal in Hungary since 1999, but eliminating the threat of arrest does not put prostitution on a par with other forms of self-employment. For instance, prostitutes could not take part in Hungary's social security system or provide documentation to potential lenders about their income source. This is changing, however, as Hungary has begun to issue entrepreneurial permits to prostitutes. "The permits allow prostitutes to give receipts to customers and become part of the legal economy by paying taxes and making social security contributions, said Agnes Foldi, head of the Hungarian Prostitutes' Interest Protection Association." Though the government is issuing the permits, it is not keeping a list of the names of permit holders; any central registry, of uncertain privacy, would dissuade many sex workers from applying for a permit.
Hungary's tax authorities also have been offering financial planning and accounting advice for sex workers -- counseling for financial matters and for drug and alcohol abuse should more generally be part of desirable prostitution regulations, in my opinion.