In a statement, UMinho adds that the study, signed by Jorge Martins Ribeiro, from the Law School, also concludes that the current law “is ineffective” and “does not protect” those who practice prostitution and proposes “urgent changes” to the Penal Code.

“There is hypocrisy dominating the debate, and the bans are aimed at the most exposed and vulnerable”, notes the researcher.

Jorge Martins Ribeiro is opposed to the legislator confusing those who practice prostitution with those who are victims of sexual exploitation, just as he regrets that the legislator ultimately delegates the organisation of sex work to sexual exploiters.

Therefore, he proposes “urgent” changes to the Penal Code, such as eliminating the expression “child prostitution”, defending that, being minors, it is about sexual exploitation.

He also proposes to amend article 169, paragraph 1, of the Penal Code, on the crime of simple pimping, which he considers unconstitutional.

That article says that, "whoever, professionally or with profit intentions, encourages, favours or facilitates the exercise by another person of prostitution is punishable with imprisonment from six months to five years."

For Jorge Martins Ribeiro, the “abolitionist model” in force in Portugal since 1983 is ineffective.

“Prostitution has not been abolished, as it has never been, it proliferates in streets, on the curbs, alternating houses, homes and in thousands of daily advertisements on the Internet and in the media”, he maintains.

The theme of legalising prostitution was the basis for Jorge Martins Ribeiro's doctoral thesis, now published in a book.

Entitled "From the law of desire to the desire for the law - discussion of the legalisation of prostitution as a service provision in the Portuguese legal system", the thesis crosses the areas of sociology, psychology and medicine, along with constitutional, criminal, civil, labour law, tax, social security and human rights.

It also compares the legal framework of 11 countries and assesses international laws and recommendations, such as those of UN agencies, the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization on the exercise of prostitution. It also contains statistics on aiding illegal immigration, human trafficking and their respective purposes (sexual, agricultural, construction work) by sex and activity, between 2014 and 2019.

"The data indicate that the majority of the Portuguese population is in favour of legalising the exercise of prostitution, which is also why it is imperative that the legislator recognize it as such, distinguishing it from sexual exploitation practices, which are indeed criminal", emphasises the investigator.