Prostitution in Moldova is an illegal activity but is widespread[1] and socially acceptable.[2] UNAIDS estimate there to be 12,000 prostitutes in the country.[3]

Morals Police captain Vladimir Istrati is quoted as saying "Prostitution in Moldova is a very well organised crime, there is a precise structure of operation which includes secretary, office and owner." The secretary is hard to file evidence against because they are most likely to conceal their true activity behind offering exotic services over the phone. Nailing down prostitutes and pimps is easier."[1]

Prostitution in Transnistria is punishable only by a fine, but there is no such clause as in the Moldovan legislation.

Local names

Prostitutes in Moldova are known locally by a variety of names:[1]


Prostitution in Moldova was first recorded in the 2nd century BC. In the 19th century there is evidence of pimps being involved.[1]

The trade's existence was initially denied during the Soviet era and then prohibited July 27 1987.

Until May 31, 2009, punishment was a fine or administrative arrest for up to 30 days, the administrative arrest was then replaced by unpaid work for a period of 20 to 40 hours.

On December 29, 2005, it was decided that sanctions would not apply to victims of trafficking; The new law "On Offences" gave this rule a broader wording: "a person engaging in prostitution contrary to their will".

Sex trafficking

Since it is Europe's poorest country, it is a major exporter of human trafficking for the purpose of the sex trade.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] The CIA names human trafficking as one of the major crime issues of Moldova.[11] Human traffickers primarily recruit women from poor villages.[12] Women and children are trafficked for sexual exploitation to Turkey, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Russia, Cyprus, Greece, Albania, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, France, Italy, and Portugal.[13] The annual country human rights report from the United States Department of State pinpoints some involvement by government officials and Moldovan law enforcement in human trafficking.[14]

The United States Department of State issued a report in 2006 on human rights violations in Moldova[14] stating:

"The country was a major country of origin for women and children trafficked abroad for forced prostitution and men and children who were trafficked to Russia and neighboring countries for forced labor and begging. The country was also a transit country for victims trafficked from Ukraine to Romania. Women and girls were trafficked to Turkey, Cyprus, Italy, Hungary, and the Balkan countries for prostitution. NGOs reported recent cases of victims trafficked to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Women and girls reportedly were trafficked to Italy and Greece through Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Albania. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), victims have increasingly been directed to Asia, Russia, Turkey, Western Europe, and the Middle East. The IOM reported that the country was the main origin in Europe for women and children trafficked for forced prostitution."

The authorities have tried to lead awareness among the population about the extent of this problem, and during the early 2000s the authorities launched numerous information campaigns. One consisted of billboards in the streets of the capital Chişinău depicting a girl gripped in a huge clenched fist and being exchanged for dollars. The caption read: "You are not for sale".[12]

E. Benjamin Skinner in his book "A Crime So Monstrous", on page 156, speculates that between 1991 and 2008, up to 400,000 women were trafficked from Moldova. [15]

The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks Moldova as a 'Tier 2' country.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Mamaliga, Ludmila. "Prostitution: Prosperous Purgatory". Welcome Moldova. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  2. ^ Browne, Anthony (2 December 2001). "Drugs push scarred land to the brink". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Sex workers: Population size estimate - Number, 2016". UNAIDS. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Moldova". U.S. Department of State. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Moldova: the price of sex". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Moldova: Lower prices behind sex slavery boom and child prostitution". Archived from the original on May 1, 2008.
  7. ^ "In Struggling Moldova, Desperation Drives Decisions". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  8. ^ Angus Roxburgh (7 November 2003). "Trafficking troubles poor Moldova". BBC News. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Moldovan sex slaves released in U.K. human trafficking raids". Archived from the original on 1 May 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  10. ^ Anthony Browne (2 December 2001). "Drugs push scarred land to the brink". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  11. ^ CIA World factbook: Moldova
  12. ^ a b Roxburgh, Angus (2003-11-07). "Europe | Trafficking troubles poor Moldova". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  13. ^ "2008 Human Rights Report: Moldova". 2009-02-25. Archived from the original on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  14. ^ a b Moldova: 2005 country report on human rights practices
  15. ^ "400000 women sold into human trafficking from Moldova".
  16. ^ "Moldova 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.