What is the legality of prostitution in Belize?
In Belize, prostitution itself is not illegal, but the related activities such as procuring, operating a brothel, and soliciting in public are considered criminal offenses. According to Section 49 of the Belize Criminal Code, anyone who knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution, or who is proved to have exercised control, direction, or influence over the movements of a prostitute in such a manner as to show that he or she is aiding, abetting, or compelling his or her prostitution, is guilty of an offense. Furthermore, the country also criminalizes the purchase of sexual services.
What are the penalties and enforcement measures for prostitution in Belize?
The penalties for engaging in prostitution-related activities in Belize vary depending on the specific offense:
- Operating a brothel: Imprisonment for up to two years (Section 49).
- Procuring: Imprisonment for up to five years (Section 50).
- Soliciting in public: Fines and imprisonment for up to six months (Section 53).
- Purchasing sexual services: Fines and imprisonment for up to six months (Section 53A).
Enforcement of these laws is primarily the responsibility of the Belize Police Department. However, according to various reports, including the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US Department of State, the enforcement of laws related to prostitution and human trafficking is inconsistent and often hampered by corruption and lack of resources.
What is prostitution called locally in Belize?
Prostitution is often referred to as commercial sex work or simply sex work in Belize. Locally, sex workers may also be called prostitutes or escorts.
What is the history of prostitution in Belize?
Prostitution has been present in Belize since its colonial days when it was a British colony known as British Honduras. The practice was tolerated and even regulated during the colonial period, with the authorities requiring sex workers to undergo regular health checks and pay a tax. However, the regulation of prostitution was abolished in 1954, and the focus shifted to criminalizing the activities surrounding the sex trade.
In recent years, Belize has become a destination for sex tourism, particularly for tourists from the United States. The country’s lax laws regarding prostitution, combined with its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, have attracted an increasing number of sex tourists and traffickers. As a result, the Belizean government has faced international pressure to address the issue of human trafficking and improve the enforcement of its laws related to prostitution.
How do government laws and policies relate to prostitution in Belize?
The Belizean government has enacted several laws and policies to address the issue of prostitution and human trafficking in the country. Some of these measures include:
- The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Act: This act, passed in 2013, criminalizes all forms of human trafficking and prescribes penalties of up to 12 years of imprisonment and fines for convicted traffickers.
- The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Act: This act, passed in 2013, criminalizes the commercial sexual exploitation of children and prescribes penalties of up to 12 years of imprisonment and fines for convicted offenders.
- National Anti-Trafficking in Persons Policy: This policy, adopted in 2016, provides a comprehensive framework for the government’s efforts to combat human trafficking, including prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership.
- Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council: This council, established in 2017, is responsible for coordinating the government’s efforts to combat human trafficking and ensure the implementation of the National Anti-Trafficking in Persons Policy.
Despite these efforts, the enforcement of laws related to prostitution and human trafficking remains inconsistent, and the government continues to face criticism for its lack of progress in addressing the issue.