Global Mapping of Sex Work Laws

Case studies

NSWP has also published seven country case studies on how laws are implemented on the streets and their impact on sex workers, which you can access below. A Briefing Paper summarising the seven case studies is also available. 

New Zealand (Aotearoa)

NSWP published a further ten country case studies in 2022, as part of the Love Alliance programme in Africa, which you can access below.

An accompanying Regional Briefing Paper summarising all ten case studies, reflects on the sex work laws in the region, explores key themes, and provides an analysis and recommendations on the way forward to strengthen advocacy for decriminalisation in these countries and the region as a whole.

Burkina Faso
South Africa


About the map

The map provides information on laws which criminalise the sale of sexual services, the purchase of sexual services and the facilitation, management or organisation of sex work.

Countries which criminalise sex work are highlighted on the map in three shades of red representing selling, buying and third parties. Countries which regulate sex work through ‘legalisation’ are highlighted in yellow. Countries (or states) which have decriminalised sex work are highlighted in green.

You can use the key above to filter the map according to these different types of legal frameworks. Some countries are marked with a i symbolsymbol to indicate that additional information is provided on the country page regarding its sex work laws. A full list of countries is available here

*Where we indicate an activity is criminalised, this includes activities associated with selling sexual services that are intrinsic to the work or protect safety (e.g. soliciting on the streets or in a public place, advertising, sharing premises with other indoor sex workers), or other activities associated with buying (e.g. "kerb crawling"). The term ‘third parties’ includes managers, brothel keepers, receptionists, maids, drivers, landlords, hotels who rent rooms to sex workers and anyone else who is seen as facilitating sex work and can also include sex workers themselves. 

The information in the map reflects legislation (as of December 2021) that exists in relation to sex work, rather than how laws are enforced or the impact they have on sex workers. The map does not include all countries where sex work legislation has been conflated with trafficking legislation, given the complexity of the legislation, but the map highlights some examples on specific country pages. 

NSWP will continue to work on more national case studies that will provide insight into how law enforcement implement the legislation and its impact upon sex workers, these will be added to the country pages as they are completed, as funding allows.

While it can be difficult to obtain up to date and reliable information on the sex work laws that exist across the world, every attempt has been made to ensure that the information on this map is as accurate as possible. If you are aware of any inaccuracies in the information provided about specific countries please contact us by emailing

The information was last updated in December 2021.


Read more about the different legal frameworks applied to sex work

Criminalisation of the sale of sexual services

Criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services, sometimes called the ‘Nordic Model’ or the ‘end demand’ model

Criminalisation of the facilitation, management or organisation of sex, often referred to as ‘third parties’

Legalisation of sex work

Decriminalisation of sex work

Mandatory testing/registration for sex workers

Sex work as work