What is the legality of prostitution in Guyana?

Is Prostitution Legal in Guyana?

Prostitution in Guyana is illegal, but the enforcement of the law is relatively lax. Although it is not a common practice, there are instances of prostitution occurring in the country. Despite the illegality of the profession, there are still some brothels operating in certain areas of Guyana, primarily in the capital city of Georgetown. There have also been reports of child prostitution in the country.

What Are the Laws and Penalties Surrounding Prostitution in Guyana?

Prostitution is governed by the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act of Guyana. According to this act, any person who:

  • Knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution;
  • Is found in or near any public place for the purpose of soliciting for immoral purposes;
  • Loiters in any street, road, or public place and persistently importunes or solicits persons for the purpose of prostitution;
  • Detains any person against their will in any brothel;

shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine and/or imprisonment.

The penalties for these offences can range from a fine of GYD 1,500 (approximately USD 7) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. In addition, any person who is convicted of keeping a brothel can be fined GYD 3,000 (approximately USD 14) and imprisoned for a term not exceeding twelve months.

How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Guyana?

Locally, prostitution is often referred to as commercial sex work or simply sex work. The term prostitute is considered derogatory and stigmatizing by many, so the use of more neutral language is encouraged. Sex workers in Guyana may also be called CSWs (commercial sex workers).

What is the History of Prostitution in Guyana?

Prostitution has been present in Guyana since colonial times. During the 19th century, the British colonial government attempted to regulate prostitution by introducing a system of registration for brothels and prostitutes. However, this system was abandoned in the early 20th century due to widespread corruption and the inability of the government to effectively enforce the regulations.

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the prevalence of sex trafficking and child prostitution in Guyana. The government has taken steps to address these issues, including the passage of the Combating Trafficking of Persons Act in 2005, which criminalizes all forms of human trafficking and provides for victim assistance and protection.

Where Can One Find Helpful Links, Government Laws, and Resources on Prostitution in Guyana?

For more information on prostitution in Guyana and the laws surrounding it, the following resources may be helpful:

  • Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act of Guyana – The official legislation governing prostitution in Guyana
  • U.S. Department of State – 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report: Guyana – An overview of the issue of human trafficking and the government’s efforts to combat it in Guyana
  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – Protecting the Rights of Commercial Sex Workers in Guyana – An article discussing the efforts to protect the rights and health of sex workers in Guyana
  • Guyana Chronicle – Sex Workers Want Respect – A local news article highlighting the challenges faced by sex workers in Guyana and their demands for respect and recognition

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