What is the legality of prostitution in Iraq?

Is Prostitution Legal in Iraq?

Prostitution in Iraq is illegal and considered a serious crime under the Iraqi Penal Code. The country has strict laws against sex work and related activities, such as soliciting, brothel-keeping, and human trafficking. The law does not distinguish between voluntary and forced prostitution, making it illegal for anyone to engage in sex work in any capacity.

What Penalties and Enforcement Measures Exist for Prostitution in Iraq?

Penalties for engaging in prostitution in Iraq are severe and include imprisonment, fines, and corporal punishment. Specifically, under the Iraqi Penal Code:

  • Individuals convicted of practicing prostitution may be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of up to 10 years.
  • Those found guilty of operating a brothel or facilitating prostitution face up to 15 years in prison.
  • Individuals involved in human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution may be punished with life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

Despite these stringent laws, the enforcement of anti-prostitution measures in Iraq is inconsistent, and the country’s security forces often lack the resources to effectively combat sex trafficking and exploitation. In addition, corruption within the Iraqi government and police forces has been known to hinder efforts to crack down on prostitution and related crimes.

How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Iraq?

In Iraq, prostitution is often referred to as sharmuta (شرموطة), an Arabic slang term that translates to prostitute or whore. This term is derogatory and is commonly used to stigmatize and demean individuals engaged in sex work.

What is the History of Prostitution in Iraq?

Prostitution has been present in Iraq for centuries, with historical records dating back to the ancient Mesopotamian era. However, the legal status and social perception of prostitution in the country have changed significantly over time. During the rule of Saddam Hussein, prostitution was officially illegal but was reportedly tolerated by the government, and many high-ranking officials were known to frequent brothels.

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent rise in sectarian violence, poverty, and displacement, the country experienced a significant increase in prostitution and sex trafficking. Many women and girls were forced into sex work as a means of survival or coerced by traffickers and criminal networks. The Iraqi government has since attempted to address the issue by implementing stricter laws and penalties for those involved in prostitution and trafficking, but the problem persists.

Where Can I Find Helpful Links, Government Laws, and Resources on Prostitution in Iraq?

For further information on prostitution laws, human trafficking, and related issues in Iraq, the following resources may be helpful:

  • Iraqi Penal Code (1969) – Provides the full text of Iraq’s Penal Code, which outlines the country’s laws and penalties related to prostitution and other crimes.
  • U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report (2020): Iraq – Offers an overview of human trafficking trends and anti-trafficking efforts in Iraq, including information on the country’s prostitution laws and enforcement measures.
  • UNHCR – Refworld: Iraq: Situation of Women – Contains information on the status of women in Iraq, including issues related to prostitution and sex trafficking.
  • Human Rights Watch: World Report 2020 – Iraq – Provides a comprehensive analysis of human rights issues in Iraq, including the treatment of women and the country’s efforts to combat prostitution and trafficking.

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