Is Prostitution Legal in Syria?
Prostitution is illegal in Syria, but the ongoing civil war and political unrest have created a climate where the practice is increasingly prevalent. This has led to a surge in human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and forced prostitution of women and girls, both Syrian and from other countries.
What Are the Laws and Penalties Regarding Prostitution in Syria?
The Syrian Penal Code criminalizes various acts related to prostitution, including:
- Engaging in prostitution
- Pimping and operating a brothel
- Procuring or facilitating prostitution
- Living off the earnings of a prostitute
- Coercing or inducing someone into prostitution
Penalties for these offenses range from short-term imprisonment to more severe sentences depending on the nature of the crime. For instance, engaging in prostitution may result in imprisonment for up to three months, while pimping and operating a brothel can lead to a prison term of one to three years.
It is important to note that, due to the ongoing civil war, the enforcement of these laws is inconsistent and varies depending on the control and governance of different regions in Syria.
How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Syria?
In Syria, prostitution is commonly referred to as shaghala, which translates to work or job in English. This term is used to describe the act of engaging in sex for money and is often used in a derogatory manner. There are also various slang terms and euphemisms used to describe prostitution and related activities.
What is the History of Prostitution in Syria?
Prostitution has been present in Syria for centuries, with historical accounts dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods. During the Ottoman Empire, prostitution was regulated, and brothels were taxed. However, with the formation of the modern Syrian state in the 20th century, prostitution was criminalized, and efforts were made to combat the practice.
Despite these efforts, prostitution persisted, often in secret or hidden locations. The ongoing civil war, which began in 2011, has significantly exacerbated the issue, with many women and girls forced into prostitution due to dire economic circumstances, displacement, and human trafficking.
How Do Government Laws and Links Relate to Prostitution in Syria?
As mentioned earlier, the Syrian government has enacted laws to criminalize prostitution and related activities. However, the enforcement of these laws has been inconsistent and ineffective due to the ongoing civil war and the fragmentation of the country. In areas controlled by the Syrian government, prostitution is still illegal, but enforcement is often lax, and corruption is widespread.
There have been reports of government officials, including military personnel, being involved in or facilitating prostitution and human trafficking. Additionally, non-governmental armed groups, such as the Islamic State (ISIS), have been known to forcibly enslave women and girls and subject them to sexual exploitation and forced prostitution.
International organizations, such as the United Nations, have expressed concern over the widespread sexual violence and exploitation of women and girls in Syria and have called for greater efforts to combat human trafficking and protect vulnerable populations.