The authors of the proposed legislation, social democrats Marija Aušrinė Pavilionienė and Giedrė Purvaneckienė and conservative Vincė Vaidevutė Margevičienė, say that monetary fines for men and women who sell sex only add to their vulnerability and prevent them from seeking police help when they become victims of violence and sexual abuse.
Moreover, the MPs say, fines have no deterrent effect on prostitution and disproportionally burden sex workers. Most of them are unable to pay the fines and the accumulating debt limits their opportunities to seek legal employment.
“Under current laws, women engaging in prostitution are not properly protected from violence, they are reluctant to go to the police for fear of being fined. If we abolish the fines, these women will be more protected from violence and abuse,” says MP Pavilionienė.
Prostitution would still be illegal and people buying sex would be subject to administrative punishment.
In 2014, 299 women in Lithuania were fined for prostituting themselves; 22 men were punished for buying sex or pimping.
In 2011, fines for prostitution totalled some EUR 50,000, but only EUR 3,200 was collected, a little over 6 percent.
Last year, the Lithuanian parliament passed a resolution, calling for abolishment of fines for prostitution and leaving punishment only for buying sex. Similar models have been adopted in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland.