Is Prostitution Legal in Burkina Faso?
In Burkina Faso, prostitution is considered to be legal, but related activities such as soliciting and procuring are prohibited. The West African country, situated in the Sahel region, has been grappling with poverty and social issues for decades, and prostitution has become a means of survival for many women and young girls.
What are the Laws, Penalties, and Law Enforcement Procedures?
Although prostitution is legal in Burkina Faso, it is regulated by several laws and statutes to prevent exploitation and human trafficking. Some of the relevant laws include:
- The Penal Code, which criminalizes soliciting and procuring
- The Law on the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons and the Protection of Victims, which prohibits human trafficking and provides support for victims
- The Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child, which prohibits child prostitution
Penalties for breaking these laws can range from fines to imprisonment. For example, individuals convicted of soliciting or procuring can face fines of up to 1,000,000 CFA francs (approximately $1,700) and imprisonment of up to five years. Those found guilty of human trafficking can face sentences of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to 10,000,000 CFA francs (approximately $17,000).
Law enforcement in Burkina Faso is known to be under-resourced, which can hinder the effectiveness of anti-trafficking efforts and the prosecution of those involved in the sex trade. Despite these challenges, the government has made strides in recent years to combat human trafficking and improve victim support services.
How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Burkina Faso?
Prostitution in Burkina Faso is often referred to as travail de nuit (night work) or travail de femmes (women’s work). The women involved in the trade are sometimes called travailleuses de nuit (night workers) or prostituées. It is important to note that these terms can carry a negative connotation and perpetuate stigma against sex workers.
What is the History of Prostitution in Burkina Faso?
Prostitution in Burkina Faso has a complex history that dates back to pre-colonial times. During the Mossi Kingdoms, women who engaged in prostitution were considered to be nyassogho, or women who possessed spiritual powers. In this context, prostitution was considered a form of spiritual healing and a means to appease the gods.
During the colonial period, the French authorities implemented a system of maisons de tolérance (tolerance houses) where prostitution was regulated and controlled. This system was dismantled after the country gained independence in 1960, and prostitution became more clandestine in nature.
Today, prostitution in Burkina Faso is primarily driven by poverty, lack of education, and limited employment opportunities for women. The country has also been affected by regional conflicts and insecurity, which have contributed to the rise of human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable populations.
Where Can You Find Helpful Links, Government Laws, and Resources?
If you are interested in learning more about prostitution and human trafficking in Burkina Faso, the following resources may be helpful:
- 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report: Burkina Faso – U.S. Department of State
- Law on the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons and the Protection of Victims – International Labour Organization
- Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child – Refworld
- 2017 Human Rights Report: Burkina Faso – U.S. Department of State
These resources provide valuable information on the legal framework, government initiatives, and challenges related to prostitution and human trafficking in Burkina Faso. By understanding the context and complexities of the issue, it is possible to work towards finding solutions that protect the rights and dignity of those involved in the sex trade.