What is the legality of prostitution in Côte d’Ivoire?

Is prostitution legal in Côte d’Ivoire?

Prostitution in Côte d’Ivoire is legal, but related activities such as soliciting, pimping, and brothel-keeping are criminalized. This means that while sex workers can legally offer their services, they face challenges in finding safe spaces to work and are at risk of exploitation due to the criminalization of associated activities. The Ivorian government has been working to address the issue of prostitution, but the problem persists due to factors such as poverty, lack of education, and social stigmatization.

What are the laws and penalties related to prostitution in Côte d’Ivoire?

Although prostitution itself is not a criminal offense in Côte d’Ivoire, several laws regulate the sex industry and impose penalties for related activities:

  • Article 336 of the Ivorian Penal Code criminalizes soliciting, with penalties ranging from a fine to imprisonment.
  • Article 337 prohibits the exploitation of the prostitution of others, which includes pimping, procuring, and maintaining a brothel. Violators can face imprisonment and fines.
  • Article 338 criminalizes the rental of premises for prostitution, with penalties including fines and imprisonment.
  • Article 343 outlaws the corruption of minors for sexual purposes, imposing penalties of imprisonment and fines for those found guilty.
  • Article 345 criminalizes human trafficking, with penalties including imprisonment and fines.

How is prostitution referred to locally in Côte d’Ivoire?

Prostitution in Côte d’Ivoire is often referred to as la prostitution or le commerce du sexe. Sex workers are commonly called prostituées or travailleuses du sexe. In some local dialects and slang, sex workers may be referred to as serpent (snake) or go (girl). The term maquis is used to describe informal bars or restaurants where sex workers may solicit clients.

What is the history of prostitution in Côte d’Ivoire?

Prostitution in Côte d’Ivoire has a long history, dating back to the pre-colonial era. During the colonial period, French authorities attempted to regulate prostitution by creating designated zones for sex workers and imposing mandatory medical examinations. After gaining independence in 1960, Côte d’Ivoire experienced rapid economic growth and urbanization, leading to an increase in the number of women entering the sex industry. The government continued to regulate prostitution through zoning and medical examinations but struggled to control the growing industry.

In recent years, Côte d’Ivoire has experienced political instability and armed conflict, which has exacerbated the issue of prostitution. Many women have turned to sex work as a means of survival due to economic hardship and displacement. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has also been a significant concern, with sex workers being particularly vulnerable to infection.

How has the government addressed prostitution in Côte d’Ivoire and what are some relevant laws or links?

The Ivorian government has taken various measures to address the issue of prostitution and protect the rights of sex workers. Some of these measures include:

  • Establishing a National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons (CNLTP) in 2012, which is responsible for coordinating the government’s efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking, including the exploitation of sex workers.
  • Adopting a National Action Plan against Trafficking in Persons in 2016, which aims to strengthen the legal framework, enhance prevention efforts, and improve victim protection and assistance.
  • Implementing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs targeting sex workers, such as the LINKAGES project, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and aims to reduce HIV transmission among key populations, including sex workers.

Despite these efforts, the challenges facing sex workers in Côte d’Ivoire remain significant. Continued efforts are needed to address the root causes of prostitution, such as poverty and lack of education, and to ensure the rights and safety of sex workers are protected.

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