Is Prostitution Legal in Bahrain?
Prostitution in Bahrain is illegal, but the country has been widely known for having a thriving sex trade. Despite the laws against it, prostitution has become a significant part of Bahrain’s economy, particularly in the capital city of Manama. It is estimated that thousands of foreign women, mostly from Asian and African countries, are working in the sex industry in Bahrain.
What Are the Laws and Penalties for Prostitution in Bahrain?
Prostitution is criminalized in Bahrain under the Penal Code of 1976. The following acts related to prostitution are punishable by law:
- Engaging in sexual acts for money or other benefits
- Pimping and operating brothels
- Encouraging, facilitating, or forcing someone into prostitution
- Living off the earnings of a prostitute
- Advertising or soliciting for prostitution
Penalties for these offenses can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the nature of the crime. For instance, those found guilty of operating a brothel can face up to five years in prison, while individuals who engage in prostitution can face up to two years in jail.
How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Bahrain?
Locally, prostitution in Bahrain is often referred to as pleasure marriages or Mut’ah marriages. These are temporary marriages that allow men to engage in sexual relationships with women in exchange for a sum of money, without violating Islamic laws. These marriages are not legally recognized and are often used as a cover for prostitution. The temporary nature of these marriages, often lasting for a few hours or days, has made them popular among sex tourists in Bahrain.
What is the History of Prostitution in Bahrain?
Prostitution in Bahrain can be traced back to the 1930s when the country was a British protectorate. During this time, Bahrain served as a major transit point for British soldiers traveling to and from India, which led to the growth of the sex industry in the country. As Bahrain developed into a regional financial hub in the 1970s, the demand for prostitution increased, particularly among foreign businessmen and tourists.
In the 2000s, Bahrain gained a reputation as a destination for sex tourism, especially from neighboring Gulf countries. The government has made efforts to combat the issue, such as implementing stricter visa regulations for women from countries known for sex trafficking. However, these measures have not been entirely effective in curbing the sex trade in the country.
What Government Laws and Resources Address Prostitution in Bahrain?
Aside from the Penal Code, Bahrain has implemented other laws and initiatives to address prostitution and human trafficking:
|Combating Trafficking in Persons Law (2008)
|A comprehensive law that criminalizes all forms of human trafficking, including forced prostitution. It also provides support and protection for victims of trafficking.
|National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons (NCCTIP)
|A government body established in 2012 to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts in Bahrain. The NCCTIP is responsible for implementing the National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
|Shelters for trafficking victims
|The government operates shelters for victims of human trafficking, providing them with accommodation, medical care, and legal assistance. The shelters also offer rehabilitation and reintegration programs for victims.
Despite these efforts, the sex trade continues to thrive in Bahrain, with many women and girls falling victim to exploitation and abuse. The government must continue to strengthen its laws and resources to effectively combat the issue and protect vulnerable individuals from being trafficked into the sex industry.