What is the legality of prostitution in Maldives?

What is the Legal Status of Prostitution in Maldives?

Prostitution is illegal in the Maldives, a Muslim-majority island nation in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is known for its strict adherence to Islamic law, and engaging in sex work is considered a serious offense. Both the buying and selling of sexual services are against the law, and those caught engaging in such activities can face severe penalties.

What Laws and Penalties are Associated with Prostitution in Maldives?

The Maldives penal code criminalizes various acts related to prostitution, including:

  • Buying or selling sex
  • Promoting or facilitating prostitution
  • Operating a brothel or any other establishment for the purpose of prostitution
  • Engaging in or benefiting from the earnings of prostitution

Penalties for those found guilty of engaging in prostitution or related activities can be severe, including:

  • Fines
  • Imprisonment
  • Public flogging or whipping (in accordance with Sharia law)
  • Deportation for foreign nationals involved in prostitution

Due to the strict enforcement of these laws, many sex workers in the Maldives operate underground, making it difficult for them to access health services and protection from abuse.

How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Maldives?

Prostitution in the Maldives is often referred to as feydhoo or feydhu, a local term that translates to shame or disgrace. This reflects the social stigma associated with sex work in the country, which is deeply rooted in religious and cultural beliefs. As a result, sex workers often face discrimination, isolation, and limited access to support and resources.

What is the History of Prostitution in Maldives?

Prostitution has likely existed in the Maldives for centuries, though historical records on the topic are scarce. The nation’s strict adherence to Islamic law has likely contributed to the long-standing criminalization of sex work. However, the growth of tourism in the Maldives since the 1970s has led to an increase in demand for commercial sex, driving the industry further underground.

Efforts to combat prostitution in the Maldives have focused on strict law enforcement and punishment of those involved in the trade. There have been limited attempts to address the root causes of prostitution or to provide support and resources for sex workers seeking to leave the industry.

What Government Laws and Resources are Available Regarding Prostitution in Maldives?

The Maldivian government has implemented several laws and policies aimed at combating prostitution and protecting the rights and wellbeing of those involved in the trade. Some of these include:

  • The Maldives Penal Code, which criminalizes prostitution and related activities
  • The Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2013, which aims to prevent and combat human trafficking, including trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation
  • The Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 2012, which provides protection and support for victims of domestic violence, including sex workers who may experience abuse from clients or pimps

Despite these legal frameworks, resources and support for sex workers in the Maldives are limited. Many organizations and individuals working to address issues related to prostitution and human trafficking in the country face significant challenges, including a lack of funding and support from the government, social stigma, and the hidden nature of the sex trade.

For those seeking information or assistance related to prostitution in the Maldives, the Maldives Police Service and the Ministry of Gender, Family, and Social Services are the primary government bodies responsible for enforcing laws and providing resources related to this issue.

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