Clients must marry prostitutes or face jail – St Pete deputy

Reuters / Sigit Pamungkas
A municipal lawmaker in Russia’s second-largest city has drafted a bill introducing heavy fines for the clients of prostitutes, but they’ll be forgotten if client agrees to marry the sex worker.

The initiative is from Olga Galkina who represents the pro-business Civil Platform party in the St Petersburg city legislature. She stressed that her bill was in response to the recent suggestion to make prostitution a criminal offence drafted by Vitaly Milonov, known for his anti-gay drive, and other campaigns bordering Christian fundamentalism.

In an interview with business daily Kommersant-St Petersburg Galkina said she wants to change the Russian Administrative Code and introduce fines of between 4000 and 10000 rubles ($95- $240)or up to 5 days of arrest for buying sex services. If clients know that prostitutes had been forced into this business the fines increase to 50-100 thousand rubles ($1200 - $2380) and the terms of administrative arrest to 10 or 15 days. The bill would also see convicted foreign nationals deported immediately after they pay the fines or their time of arrest ends.

The most interesting part of the bill is the possibility for clients to evade punishment altogether if they “marry the person that provided the sex services.”

In the explanatory note attached to the bill Galkina quotes international experience, saying that introducing responsibility for clients had helped to decrease the prostitution rate in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

If the St. Petersburg city legislature approves the bill in two readings it would be sent to the Federal parliament with the possibility to become a national Russian law.

Law experts say that while the purpose of the bill is good it might face difficulties in real life as it would be very difficult to collect proof of the crime.

In further comments with Kommersant-St Petersburg Galkina said that in reality she advocated legalization of prostitution and drafted the controversial bill in order to start a public discussion on the issue.