Šori, Iztok, Mojca Pajnik, forthcoming in 2017. Prostitution Policy in Slovenia. In Jahnsen, S. and Wagenaar, H. (eds.) Assessing Prostitution Policies in Europe, Milton Park, UK: Routledge.
Today only criminal and misdemeanour legislation regulate the field of prostitution directly. Exploitation through prostitution and trafficking in persons are considered crimes, while selling or buying sexual services are not punishable. Significant legal changes came in 2003, when prostitution was erased from the list of misdemeanours, while procurement and organizing prostitution remained punishable. It seems however, that this shift did not particularly affect the prostitution business, i.e. it has not shown significant impact on patterns of organization and practicing prostitution.
Until 2003, selling sexual services or “submitting to prostitution,” as was the official wording, was prohibited. The Act on Criminal Offences against Public Order and Peace stipulated an imprisonment sentence for up to two months or a fine. In the year 2000, 37 cases were reported by the police. Liberal democrats, who proposed the law in 2001 and were leading the government at that time, referred to prostitutes’ citizenship, human, and self-determination rights. Among the proclaimed goals was to bring prostitutes and their clients in equal position before the law and empower them to report violent pimps and clients. But as with all prostitution laws and policies throughout the history of Slovenia, this change was supported by the argument of the protection of public health. In order to protect clients and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, obligatory testing and treatment for persons who sell sexual services were proposed in the explanation of the law. It was also argued that prostitutes will be allowed to work as free entrepreneurs, which hitherto had not been possible because no additional regulations had been met. Looking back on the history of propositions liberal democrats made on the issue from 1993 on, most of them can be read as propositions that might favour the legalization of prostitution. Decriminalization can be considered a step toward legalization, which however was not a part of a consistent prostitution policy or plan. Also, decriminalization was not based on expert knowledge, on research in prostituion, and it also did not generate visible public discussion. What is more, no other political party has dealt with the issue of prostitution since then and none of the governments adopted, or even discussed, prostitution policy in Slovenia.
In 2006 the conservative government adopted a renewed Law on Protection of Public Order and Peace, criminalizing prostitution in public spaces, which the law considers “indecent behaviour.” Since there is nearly no street prostitution in the country, the need to protect public morality by expelling prostitutes from public spaces seems unfounded, yet this article was included in the reformed law without any particular difficulty. It has to be noted that liberal democrats left this door open in their proposition on decriminalization of prostitution too, by leaving the article 11 on public morality untouched. In fact they were assuring that there will not be more prostitution in public spaces explicitely referring to this article.
Law on Protection of Public Order and Peace
“Whoever procures sexual intercourse, shows off sexual organs or in an intrusive way offers sexual services on a public space and by this disturbs anybody, provokes disquiet or indignation of people, shall be punished by a fine of SIT 50.000 to SIT 100.000.” (Official Journal RS 70/2006).
Even though prostitution is not illegal, prostitutes cannot work legally, except within businesses registered for other means. Interestingly, the classification of professions published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Slovenia lists the profession of a prostitute, written only in its female grammatical form (Official Journal of RS 28/1997).
Procuring and organizing prostitution remained punishable after prostitution was decriminalised, an effort, according to the proponents of legal change, that was supposed to enable prostitutes to work as free entrepreneurs. Curiously, the word “procurement” disappeared from the Criminal Code in 2004. Articles on “procurement” and “mediation of prostitution” were replaced by articles on “exploitation through prostitution,” with the argument to bring the legislation in accordance with the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime:
(Exploitation through prostitution)
(1) Whoever participates for exploitative purposes in the prostitution of another or instructs, obtains or encourages another to engage in prostitution with force, threats or deception shall be given a prison sentence of between three months and five years.
(2) If an offence from the preceding paragraph is committed against a minor, against more than one person or as part of a criminal organisation, the perpetrator shall be given a prison sentence of between one and ten years.
Court cases reveal that defendants often claim they did not know about prostitution within their businesses and apartments, or that everything their workers did was of their free choice. Similarly, most women called as witnesses do not declare themselves as being forced in any kind of actions, which might be the result of fear from defendants, as well as of real facts.[i] In practice, the legislation leaves a considerable chance that the defendant is not convicted and in this way is tolerant of procurement. This does not positively affect the proclaimed goal of increasing the number of prostitutes working on their own.
Important changes in the last decade happened in the field of trafficking in persons, which in contrast to prostitution is governed by an official policy and regular monitoring pursuant to international treaties and EU directives. The Criminal Code was amended with a corresponding article in 2004.[ii] Additionally, forced prostitution is listed under crimes against humanity and war crimes in articles 101 and 102 of the Criminal Code.
[i] Pajnik, M. and Kavčič, U. (2008). Sodne prakse, povezane s trgovanjem z ljudmi in prostitucijo v Sloveniji (Case law related to prostitution and trafficking in human beings in Slovenia). Revija za kriminalistiko in kriminologijo 59 (2), 141–154.
[ii] Before 2004 trafficking in persons could be prosecuted by articles on procurement, mediation in prostitution, enslavement and criminal act of illegal trespassing of the state border.