Is Prostitution Legal in Mauritania?
Prostitution is illegal in Mauritania. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is an Islamic nation located in West Africa, where the practice of prostitution is not only illegal but also culturally and religiously forbidden. The country has a deeply ingrained Muslim culture, with nearly 100% of its population practicing Islam. This cultural and religious background significantly influences the nation’s laws and attitudes towards activities such as prostitution.
What are the Laws and Penalties for Prostitution in Mauritania?
In Mauritania, prostitution is a criminal offense under the Penal Code. The laws and penalties for prostitution in Mauritania include:
- Penal Code Article 306: This article criminalizes the act of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution. It states that any person who solicits or entices another person for the purpose of prostitution shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of between two months and two years, and a fine of between 5,000 and 180,000 Mauritanian ouguiya (approximately $14 to $500).
- Penal Code Article 307: This article criminalizes the act of engaging in prostitution. It states that any person who engages in prostitution shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of between one month and one year, and a fine of between 2,000 and 60,000 Mauritanian ouguiya (approximately $6 to $166).
- Penal Code Article 308: This article criminalizes the act of pimping or facilitating prostitution. It states that any person who knowingly aids, abets, or protects the prostitution of another person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of between one and five years, and a fine of between 10,000 and 200,000 Mauritanian ouguiya (approximately $28 to $555).
What are the Local Terms for Prostitution in Mauritania?
In Mauritania, the local terms used to refer to prostitution include:
- Mbara: This is a term used to refer to prostitutes, particularly those who work in the streets.
- Soug el Banat: This term, which translates to the girls’ market, is used to describe places where prostitutes are known to solicit clients.
What is the History of Prostitution in Mauritania?
Prostitution in Mauritania has its roots in the country’s history of slavery. In the past, slaves were sometimes forced into prostitution by their owners. Although slavery was officially abolished in Mauritania in 1981, it is still practiced in some parts of the country, and some women continue to be forced into prostitution as a result of this practice.
Additionally, the growth of urban areas and the influx of migrant workers have contributed to the rise of prostitution in Mauritania. Many women, facing poverty and limited employment opportunities, turn to prostitution as a means of survival.
What are the Government Laws and Resources to Tackle Prostitution in Mauritania?
The government of Mauritania has implemented several laws and resources to address the issue of prostitution in the country. These include:
- National Strategy for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons: This strategy, adopted in 2014, aims to combat human trafficking, including trafficking for the purpose of prostitution, through a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership.
- Anti-Slavery Law: In 2015, Mauritania enacted a new anti-slavery law that increases the penalties for slavery, including forced prostitution, and establishes special courts to handle slavery cases.
- Support for NGOs: The government collaborates with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide assistance and support to victims of prostitution and human trafficking. These NGOs offer shelter, medical care, and legal assistance to victims, as well as work to raise awareness about the issue.
Despite these efforts, the enforcement of laws against prostitution and human trafficking remains a challenge in Mauritania due to factors such as corruption, lack of resources, and cultural attitudes. Nonetheless, the government continues to work towards addressing the issue of prostitution and improving the lives of those affected by it.