What is the legality of prostitution in Tanzania?

What is the Legal Status of Prostitution in Tanzania?

In Tanzania, prostitution is considered illegal. However, the practice is widespread and often goes unpunished. Many people, particularly women, engage in sex work as a means of survival, as they have limited opportunities for employment or education. Despite its illegality, prostitution remains a significant issue in Tanzania, with an estimated 150,000 sex workers operating within the country.

What are the Laws and Penalties Surrounding Prostitution in Tanzania?

According to Tanzanian law, both the buying and selling of sexual services are illegal. The Penal Code of Tanzania criminalizes the act of prostitution, as well as living off the earnings of prostitution, soliciting, and brothel-keeping. Penalties for engaging in prostitution can include imprisonment for up to one year, a fine, or both. In addition to these penalties, those convicted of prostitution may also be subjected to mandatory testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.

How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Tanzania?

In Tanzania, prostitution is commonly referred to as biashara ya ngono, which translates to sex business in English. Sex workers are often called malaya or wahuni, both of which are derogatory terms in Swahili. Additionally, there are local slang terms for prostitution, such as kazi ya siri (secret work) and kazi ya usiku (night work).

What is the History of Prostitution in Tanzania?

Prostitution in Tanzania has a long history, dating back to the pre-colonial era. During this time, sex work was a common practice among certain ethnic groups, who believed that it was an essential aspect of their culture and traditions. With the arrival of European colonial powers, prostitution became more widespread, as many women were forced into sex work to survive the harsh economic conditions.

Following Tanzania’s independence in 1961, the government attempted to crack down on prostitution by implementing various laws and policies. However, these efforts have largely been unsuccessful, as prostitution remains a significant issue in the country today. The rise of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s further exacerbated the problem, as sex workers became increasingly vulnerable to infection and transmission of the virus.

What Government Laws and Resources are in Place Regarding Prostitution in Tanzania?

Although prostitution is illegal in Tanzania, the government has implemented several policies and initiatives to address the issue. These include:

  • The National Multi-Sectoral Strategic Framework on HIV/AIDS (NMSF), which aims to reduce the prevalence of HIV among key populations, including sex workers, through prevention, care, and treatment services.
  • The Tanzanian Police Force’s Gender and Children’s Desk, which provides support and assistance to victims of gender-based violence, including sex workers.
  • Various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) that offer support services to sex workers, such as health care, counseling, and legal aid.

Despite these resources, sex workers in Tanzania continue to face significant challenges, including stigma, discrimination, and violence. To effectively address the issue of prostitution, it is essential for the Tanzanian government to work closely with NGOs, CBOs, and other stakeholders to create comprehensive policies and programs that prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of sex workers.

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