Is Prostitution Legal in Morocco?
In Morocco, prostitution is illegal, but it is widespread and largely tolerated by society. Despite the country’s strict laws, the sex trade remains a thriving industry in Morocco, with many locals and tourists engaging in the services of prostitutes.
What Are the Laws and Penalties Regarding Prostitution in Morocco?
Prostitution in Morocco is governed by Article 497-499 of the Penal Code. The laws are quite strict, and the penalties for engaging in prostitution can be severe. The following are some of the key provisions of the Penal Code related to prostitution:
- Article 497: Engaging in prostitution is punishable by imprisonment for six months to one year and a fine of 200 to 500 Moroccan dirhams.
- Article 498: Soliciting for prostitution is punishable by imprisonment for two months to one year and a fine of 100 to 500 Moroccan dirhams.
- Article 499: Operating a brothel or facilitating prostitution is punishable by imprisonment for one to five years and a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 Moroccan dirhams.
Despite these laws, enforcement is often lax, and many individuals involved in the sex trade continue to operate with relative impunity.
How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Morocco?
Prostitution is referred to by several terms in Morocco, with the most common being Taharosh (which means harassment in Arabic) and Tasfiqt (which means exploitation in Amazigh). The women involved in prostitution are often called Natasha (a derogatory term for Eastern European women) or Chikha (a term for female singers and dancers who perform in bars and nightclubs).
What is the History of Prostitution in Morocco?
Prostitution has a long history in Morocco, dating back to the pre-colonial era. During the French Protectorate (1912-1956), the colonial authorities attempted to regulate prostitution by establishing red-light districts and issuing licenses to sex workers. However, this system was abolished after Morocco gained independence in 1956.
In the decades following independence, prostitution continued to be a significant issue in Moroccan society. The rapid urbanization and economic difficulties faced by the country led to an increase in the number of women turning to sex work as a means of survival. The growth of tourism in Morocco also contributed to the expansion of the sex trade, with many tourists seeking the services of prostitutes during their visits to the country.
What Government Laws and Resources Exist to Address Prostitution in Morocco?
The Moroccan government has implemented several measures to address the issue of prostitution, including the following:
- Legislative initiatives: The government has enacted laws to criminalize prostitution, as mentioned earlier. However, the enforcement of these laws remains inconsistent.
- Public awareness campaigns: The government and various NGOs have conducted campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of prostitution and the importance of combating the sex trade.
- Social support programs: The government has established programs to provide support and assistance to women involved in prostitution, including vocational training and psychological counseling.
- International cooperation: Morocco has signed several international agreements and treaties related to combating human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
Despite these efforts, prostitution remains a persistent problem in Morocco. Greater commitment to enforcing the existing laws and providing support to those affected by the sex trade is needed to effectively address this issue.