Switzerland to ban underage prostitution

Hiring a prostitute under the age of 18 will cease being legal Switzerland, although to date there has been no penalty for purchasing sexual services from people over 16, the age of sexual majority in the Alpine nation.

The Council of the Cantons, the Swiss Parliament's territorial chamber, Tuesday took the first legislative step toward reforming the Penal Code after Switzerland two years ago signed the international Convention on the Protection of Children.

The agreement, which has been ratified by 18 countries so far, stipulates that signatories must punish all acts of sexual abuse, prostitution, pornography and participation in pornographic shows by people younger than 18.

The new Swiss legislation, which will have to be ratified by the other chamber of parliament, will not punish the minors who provide those services but rather the people who hire them, and the latter could be sentenced to up to three years behind bars.

Facilitating prostitution by minors will also be punished and pimps or operators of bordellos where people younger than 18 work will face maximum 10-year sentences.

The minimum age to participate in pornographic movies or shows will rise from 16 to 18 and those in charge of productions featuring people under the established legal age would face prison terms of up to five years.

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