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Albania's parliament on Monday amended the penal code, raising the jail term for users of prostitutes to three years.
According to the amendments, patrons of prostitutes will now receive penalties ranging from fines up to three years' imprisonment, parliament said in a statement.
The changes to the criminal code regarding prostitution have been the matter of a lively debate, with some civil society activists calling for de-criminalization.
They have also argued that the law should punish only clients, as sex workers should be considered victims.
Speaking in front of the commission, Vjollca Meco, head of Albania’s Helsinki Committee, said criminal trials of prostitution cases often punished only the sex workers.
“Instead of the pimp being arrested, the blame goes to the victim, because it’s easier to collect evidence on the sex worker,” Meco said.
Meco called for the decriminalization of prostitution, arguing that punishing clients was more effective.
Currently there are different forms of de-criminalization of prostitution around the world.
In Sweden, Norway and Iceland, for example, it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them. Thus the client commits an offence, but not the prostitute.
In countries like Germany and the Netherlands it is a legitimate occupation, and prostitutes are regulated and taxed like any other professionals.
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