Is Prostitution Legal in Togo?
Prostitution in Togo is considered a criminal act and is illegal. However, it is a widespread practice, and the laws are not strictly enforced. The country is facing numerous social and economic challenges, and the lack of opportunities for women and young girls has led to an increase in the prevalence of prostitution. The Togolese government has attempted to combat the issue, but progress has been slow due to limited resources and a lack of political will.
What are the Laws, Penalties, and Law Enforcement Strategies Regarding Prostitution in Togo?
Under Togolese law, the act of prostitution is punishable by imprisonment and/or fines. The penalties for prostitution-related offenses are as follows:
- For engaging in prostitution: up to 3 months in prison and/or a fine of up to 50,000 CFA francs (approximately $85).
- For procuring (pimping) or operating a brothel: up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to 500,000 CFA francs (approximately $850).
- For trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation: up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to 2,000,000 CFA francs (approximately $3,400).
Law enforcement strategies for addressing prostitution in Togo primarily involve periodic crackdowns and raids on known brothels and red-light districts. However, these efforts have had limited success in reducing the prevalence of prostitution. In many cases, the police are known to turn a blind eye to the illegal activities or even extort money from sex workers in exchange for not arresting them.
How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Togo?
Prostitution in Togo is referred to by various local terms and expressions. Some common names for prostitutes include filles de joie (girls of joy) and travailleuses de nuit (night workers). Brothels are often referred to as maisons de passe (houses of passage) or auberges (inns). The act of engaging in prostitution is sometimes referred to as faire le trottoir (doing the sidewalk) or vendre la chair (selling flesh).
What is the History of Prostitution in Togo?
The history of prostitution in Togo can be traced back to the pre-colonial era, when sex work was considered a legitimate profession and was regulated by traditional customs and norms. However, the arrival of European colonizers and missionaries led to the introduction of new moral values and the criminalization of prostitution.
During the colonial period, the French administration in Togo implemented a system of regulated prostitution known as the régime du carnet (notebook system), which required sex workers to be registered and undergo regular medical examinations. This system was abolished after Togo gained independence in 1960, and prostitution was subsequently criminalized under the country’s new penal code.
How do Government Laws and Policies Impact Prostitution in Togo?
Government laws and policies have had a limited impact on the prevalence of prostitution in Togo, due to a combination of factors such as weak law enforcement, corruption, and social and economic challenges. The criminalization of prostitution has not deterred many women and young girls from entering the trade, as they often have few other options for earning a living.
Furthermore, the criminalization of prostitution has made sex workers more vulnerable to exploitation, violence, and abuse, as they are unable to seek protection from the authorities or access essential health services. The Togolese government has acknowledged the need to address the issue of prostitution and has taken some steps to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation, such as the establishment of a National Committee Against Trafficking in Persons and the adoption of a National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons. However, these efforts have been hampered by a lack of resources and political will, as well as a reluctance to address the root causes of prostitution, such as poverty, gender inequality, and lack of access to education and employment opportunities.