Is Prostitution Legal in the Palestine State?
In the Palestine State, which includes the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, prostitution is illegal. Although the legal framework for both regions differs, they share the common goal of criminalizing and punishing those involved in the sex trade. In the West Bank, the laws regarding prostitution are governed by the Jordanian Penal Code of 1960, while the Gaza Strip follows the Egyptian Penal Code of 1937.
What are the Laws and Penalties Regarding Prostitution in the Palestine State?
Both the Jordanian and Egyptian Penal Codes impose penalties on individuals involved in prostitution. The penalties vary depending on the specific offense, and include imprisonment, fines, and corporal punishment. Some of the key provisions in each penal code include:
- Both codes criminalize the act of soliciting or engaging in prostitution, with penalties ranging from imprisonment to fines.
- Operating a brothel or facilitating prostitution is also illegal under both codes, with penalties including imprisonment and fines.
- The Jordanian Penal Code allows for the use of corporal punishment in the form of lashing for those convicted of prostitution-related offenses.
- Both penal codes impose penalties on individuals who knowingly live off the earnings of prostitution, such as pimps and brothel owners.
It is important to note that these laws primarily target individuals involved in the sex trade, rather than those who purchase sex. This approach has been criticized by some human rights organizations, who argue that it fails to address the demand for prostitution and leaves sex workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in the Palestine State?
Prostitution is often referred to as sharmuta in the local Arabic language, a term that carries a strong negative connotation. Due to the social stigma associated with sex work, individuals involved in the trade often face discrimination and marginalization within their communities. This makes it difficult for them to access support services and increases their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse.
What is the History of Prostitution in the Palestine State?
Prostitution has been a part of Palestinian society for centuries, with historical records dating back to the Ottoman Empire. In the early 20th century, British colonial authorities attempted to regulate the sex trade by establishing a system of licensed brothels. However, this approach was largely unsuccessful, and prostitution continued to operate in an underground and unregulated manner.
With the establishment of the Palestine State and the subsequent division of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the legal frameworks governing prostitution changed, as previously mentioned. Despite the strict laws in place, the sex trade has persisted, fueled by poverty, unemployment, and political instability in the region.
What Government Laws and Resources are in Place to Address Prostitution in the Palestine State?
Although the Palestine State has criminalized prostitution, there are limited resources in place to support individuals involved in the sex trade. Some of the existing resources and initiatives include:
- The Palestinian Authority has established a special police unit to combat prostitution and human trafficking in the West Bank. This unit works in collaboration with international organizations to raise awareness and build capacity to address these issues.
- Non-governmental organizations, such as Sawasya and Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling, provide legal assistance and support services to victims of gender-based violence, including those involved in the sex trade.
- International organizations, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, have implemented projects to build the capacity of the Palestinian criminal justice system to address human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Despite these efforts, there remains a significant gap in the availability of comprehensive support services for individuals involved in the sex trade in the Palestine State. Addressing this issue requires a holistic approach that includes addressing the root causes of prostitution, such as poverty and unemployment, as well as ensuring access to education, healthcare, and social services for those involved in the trade.