What is the legality of prostitution in Nauru?

Is Prostitution Legal in Nauru?

Prostitution is illegal in Nauru, a small island country located in Micronesia in the South Pacific. The country, which has a population of around 10,000 people, is the third smallest by area and the second smallest by population in the world. Despite the illegality of prostitution, the practice is believed to occur within the country, particularly in the capital, Yaren.

What are the Penalties and Enforcement Measures?

The penalties for prostitution in Nauru are not explicitly defined in the country’s legal code. However, several sections of the criminal code can be applied to those engaging in or facilitating prostitution. These include:

  • Section 153 – Keeping a brothel: This offense is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment.
  • Section 154 – Living on the earnings of prostitution: This offense is punishable by up to one year of imprisonment.
  • Section 155 – Procuring: This offense is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment.

Enforcement of these laws is generally weak, as the country has limited resources and a small police force. However, there have been some instances of individuals being prosecuted for prostitution-related offenses.

How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Nauru?

In Nauru, prostitution is commonly referred to as kamwewe or karaoi. These terms are used to describe the act of engaging in sexual activity for money or other forms of compensation. Locals may also use the English term prostitution when discussing the issue.

What is the History of Prostitution in Nauru?

The history of prostitution in Nauru is not well documented, and it is unclear when the practice first emerged on the island. However, it is believed that the prevalence of prostitution has increased in recent years, particularly after the closure of the country’s lucrative phosphate mining industry in the early 2000s. The economic downturn that followed led to increased unemployment and poverty, which may have contributed to the growth of the sex industry.

Additionally, the presence of foreign workers and asylum seekers in Nauru, particularly from countries such as Australia, has been linked to an increase in demand for prostitution services. Reports of sexual exploitation and abuse among asylum seekers detained in Nauru’s Australian-run detention center have also raised concerns about the vulnerability of this population to prostitution and human trafficking.

What Government Laws and Resources Address Prostitution in Nauru?

The government of Nauru has taken some steps to address the issue of prostitution and related concerns, such as human trafficking. Key laws and resources include:

  • The Nauru Criminal Code: As mentioned earlier, the criminal code contains several provisions that can be applied to prostitution-related offenses, including sections on brothel-keeping, living off the earnings of prostitution, and procuring.
  • The Anti-Human Trafficking Act 2012: This legislation criminalizes human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and other forms of exploitation. Penalties for trafficking offenses range from 15 years to life imprisonment, depending on the severity of the crime. The act also provides for victim protection measures, such as access to medical care, counseling, and legal assistance.
  • National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons 2015-2019: This plan, developed in collaboration with international organizations, outlines the government’s strategy to combat human trafficking in Nauru. The plan focuses on prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership and includes measures to address the vulnerability of asylum seekers to trafficking and exploitation.

Despite these efforts, Nauru continues to face challenges in addressing the issue of prostitution and related concerns, such as human trafficking. Limited resources, weak law enforcement, and a lack of public awareness about the risks and consequences of prostitution contribute to the persistence of the problem on the island.

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