Is Prostitution Legal in Guinea-Bissau?
Prostitution is technically legal in Guinea-Bissau, a small West African country. However, it is important to note that related activities such as soliciting, procuring, and operating a brothel are considered illegal under the country’s penal code. This creates a situation where sex workers can operate without fear of being arrested for selling sex, but they are still vulnerable to arrest and prosecution for participating in other aspects of the sex trade.
What are the Penalties and Enforcement for Prostitution?
Although the act of prostitution itself is legal in Guinea-Bissau, there are penalties associated with other activities related to the sex trade. Some of these penalties include:
- Soliciting: Those who engage in soliciting or offering sex services in public places can face fines and imprisonment.
- Procuring: Those who facilitate or promote prostitution, such as pimps or brothel owners, can be punished with imprisonment for up to 5 years.
- Operating a brothel: Individuals who own, manage, or operate a brothel can face up to 5 years in prison.
Enforcement of these laws is often inconsistent and corruption within the police force can lead to situations where sex workers are arrested and extorted for money in exchange for their release. This lack of consistent enforcement and corruption can make it difficult for sex workers to seek protection or assistance from law enforcement when they experience violence or exploitation.
How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Guinea-Bissau?
In Guinea-Bissau, prostitution is often referred to as tchatcho, a term that comes from the local Creole language. The term is used to describe both the act of prostitution itself and the women who engage in sex work. It is important to note that the term tchatcho carries a negative connotation and is often used in a derogatory manner.
What is the History of Prostitution in Guinea-Bissau?
Prostitution has a long history in Guinea-Bissau, dating back to the colonial period when the country was under Portuguese rule. During this time, sex work was primarily concentrated in the capital city of Bissau and catered to European settlers and traders. In the years following Guinea-Bissau’s independence in 1974, prostitution continued to be a significant part of the country’s informal economy, with many women turning to sex work as a means of survival in the face of widespread poverty and limited economic opportunities.
In recent years, Guinea-Bissau has experienced an increase in sex tourism, particularly from European countries. This has led to a growth in the number of foreign sex workers, particularly from Brazil and other West African countries, who travel to Guinea-Bissau to work in the sex industry.
How do Government Laws and Links Relate to Prostitution in Guinea-Bissau?
Despite the fact that prostitution is technically legal in Guinea-Bissau, the government has not taken significant steps to regulate the industry or protect the rights and safety of sex workers. This lack of regulation has allowed for widespread exploitation and abuse within the industry, with sex workers often facing violence and discrimination without access to legal recourse or protection.
In addition to the inconsistent enforcement of laws related to prostitution, Guinea-Bissau has also been linked to international human trafficking networks. The country is considered a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. The government’s limited capacity to address these issues and the high levels of corruption within law enforcement have contributed to Guinea-Bissau’s status as a hub for human trafficking in the region.
While the legal status of prostitution in Guinea-Bissau may provide some protection for sex workers, the lack of regulation, inconsistent enforcement, and links to human trafficking continue to create a dangerous and exploitative environment for those involved in the industry.