Magazine article New Internationalist

Prostitution & the Law: The Facts

Magazine article New Internationalist

Prostitution & the Law: The Facts

Article excerpt


Policy: Not a crime, according to Article 19 of the Constitution: 'private actions that in no way offend order and public morals or do damage to a third party are reserved to be judged by God and fall outside the competence of judges'. But it is illegal to solicit, to aid or abet a prostitute, live off their earnings, or run a brothel.

Practice: Prostitutes are arrested and fined or jailed for 21 days under edicts issued at the discretion of the police. There is no State protection.


Policy: Not illegal. It is illegal to operate an hotel or a house for prostitution purposes, to live off a prostitute's earnings or to exploit a child for the purposes of prostitution.

Practice: Prostitutes are tolerated. Transvestites are generally arrested for offending public morals. Male prostitution is either subsumed under female or categorized as homosexuality.


Policy: Not an offence per se in the Criminal Code. Private transactions are legal, but soliciting, pimping and brothel - keeping are illegal under federal law.

Practice: Some cities use municipal by - laws relating to loitering and public nuisance against prostitutes. Prostitutes' rights organizations have been working to repeal the prostitution laws and to empower prostitutes to improve their working conditions.


Policy: Illegal and punishable by imprisonment. Egyptian law states that a man who is caught with a prostitute is not imprisoned; instead, his testimony is used to convict and imprison the prostitute.

Practice: Prostitutes are socially ostracized.


Policy: Legal. Prostitutes are required to have health check - ups, but are not allowed to have health insurance. Brothels are in designated areas and operate only during certain hours.

Practice: When a brothel - owner improves the working conditions, this is seen to be stimulating prostitution and they could face prosecution. An active prostitutes' rights movement is based in Berlin.


Policy: Illegal. There is a plethora of laws against the sex trade, including one in 1985 to ban devidasis, or temple prostitutes.

Practice: Organized networks for buying and selling women and girls exist despite the legislation. Devidasis continue to be sold to the temples. Any sexual intercourse outside socially acceptable unions is likely tobe regarded as prostitution.


Policy: The 1925 Penal Code stated that prostitution was not a crime in itself, but that it was a crime to advocate it, to aid or abet a woman to enter prostitution or to operate a brothel. The current regime believes that execution - by firing squad or stoning - is a more fitting penalty.

Practice: Execution is common. Some Iranian feminists regard mut'a, a form of temporary marriage where the woman has few rights, as akin to prostitution. Under mut'a, it is possible to be 'married' for as little as half an hour.


Policy: No legal definition of prostitution in the Penal Code. But it is illegal to live off the earnings of prostitution. …

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