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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 19:43 GMT
Euro court grants rights to prostitutes
Prostitute
The judges ruled that prostitution was a service
A group of Polish and Czech women have won a ruling in the European Court of Justice, granting them the right to work as prostitutes in the Netherlands.

The four women took their case to court when they rented "window rooms" in Amsterdam's red-light district but were refused work permits on the grounds that prostitution was not a regular job.


The activity of prostitution pursued in a self-employed capacity can be regarded as a service provided for remuneration

Court ruling
The court found in their favour, saying that that, under treaties between the European Union and its applicant countries, they had the right to work.

The judges said prostitutes could work in any European Union country where selling sex was tolerated - as long as they were genuinely self-employed, had the means to set up their business and had a reasonable chance of success.

"The activity of prostitution pursued in a self-employed capacity can be regarded as a service provided for remuneration," the judgment said.

Strict controls

In the Netherlands, only EU nationals are allowed to earn a living as self-employed sex workers.

Red light district, Amsterdam
The women had attempted to set up shop in Amsterdam
The Dutch Government had argued that prostitution could be considered as labour within the terms of these agreements.

Despite the ruling, the Netherlands is expected to be reluctant to open its doors to sex workers from outside the EU.

Since brothels were legalised last year, the authorities have stepped up their fight against the illegal trafficking of women.

They claim that strict controls on the sex industry are the best way to protect the victims of the modern slave trade.

See also:

30 Sep 00 | Europe
Dutch OK sex for sale
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