Prostitution is against human dignity: Turkey’s top court
Turkish news website Habertürk reported on Sept. 19 that the Constitutional Court recently ended a legal saga that started almost a decade ago, dividing lower courts.
A 33-year-old woman, who was unidentified, had applied to be employed at an Istanbul brothel as a prostitute in 2009.
An official commission that oversaw the hygienic standards of the brothel rejected the woman’s application, citing that the physical capabilities of the enterprise was not suitable to employ one more prostitute.
The woman appealed to the Istanbul First Administrative Court. When her plea was rejected, she applied to the Council of State, which advised the local court to review the case. The administrative court insisted on its initial ruling, sending the case to the Council of State’s higher board over all administrative courts in Turkey.
Finally, in 2014, the Council of State issued its ruling, rejecting the woman’s plea in a highly divided vote of eight against nine.
The woman resorted to the final legal course and filed an individual application at the Constitutional Court.
The top court, too, recently rejected the plea with four votes against one, ruling that employment in the prostitution sector has nothing to do with privacy rights because “willingly accepting prostitution as a profession would be against human dignity.”
The lower court judges who voted against the overwhelming view in the case stressed the state has a public duty to improve conditions at legal brothels, which would increase their capacity for employment.
The only Constitutional Court judge who voted to accept the woman’s plea, on the other hand, said the European Court of Human Rights has no legal precedent in a similar case with a prostitute.
“It is also not possible to agree with the majority of judges on the view that ‘willingly accepting prostitution as a profession would be against human dignity,’ because this opinion has nothing to do with the subject of the application,” the judge added.
Prostitution in officially registered brothels, known as “general houses,” is legal in Turkey.
Under health laws dealing with sexually transmitted infections, the state’s regulatory agencies issue identity cards to sex workers that give them rights to some free medical care and other social services.
Illegal prostitution, on the other hand, is classified as operating a brothel without a license or being a prostitute without having health check-ups or a license, which are punishable with one year in prison.
There are also heavy jail sentences for human trafficking and related crimes.