What is the legality of prostitution in Trinidad and Tobago?

Is Prostitution Legal in Trinidad and Tobago?

In Trinidad and Tobago, the act of prostitution itself is not illegal. However, many activities surrounding prostitution, such as brothel-keeping, soliciting in public places, and living off the earnings of prostitution, are considered criminal offenses. This makes the legal status of prostitution in the country somewhat ambiguous and complex.

What are the Laws and Penalties Surrounding Prostitution?

While the act of selling sex is not explicitly prohibited in Trinidad and Tobago, the following activities associated with prostitution are illegal and punishable under the law:

  • Brothel-keeping: Operating a brothel is a criminal offense, punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Soliciting in public places: Soliciting for the purpose of prostitution in any public place is a criminal offense, punishable by up to six months in prison.
  • Living off the earnings of prostitution: Anyone who knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution is guilty of an offense, punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Child prostitution: Engaging in, facilitating, or promoting child prostitution is a criminal offense, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
  • Human trafficking: Trafficking in persons for the purpose of exploitation, including prostitution, is a criminal offense, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Trinidad and Tobago?

Prostitution in Trinidad and Tobago is often referred to using local slang and terms, such as:

  • Commercial sex work
  • Transactional sex
  • Sex trade

Prostitutes in Trinidad and Tobago may be called sex workers or commercial sex workers, although the latter term is more commonly used in advocacy and policy discussions. The term sex worker is considered less stigmatizing and more inclusive, as it acknowledges the work aspect of the profession.

What is the History of Prostitution in Trinidad and Tobago?

Prostitution has been present in Trinidad and Tobago since the colonial era, with the first recorded brothel operating in the early 19th century. The country’s history of prostitution is closely tied to its history of migration and urbanization, as well as its role as a transit hub for regional and international trade. Over the years, the sex trade has evolved and adapted to changing social, economic, and political circumstances.

In the 20th century, the government of Trinidad and Tobago attempted to regulate prostitution through the implementation of a red-light district in the capital city of Port of Spain. This policy proved controversial and was eventually abandoned, with the government shifting its focus to addressing the underlying social and economic factors contributing to prostitution.

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the links between prostitution and human trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago. The government has taken steps to strengthen its anti-trafficking laws and policies, and to raise awareness about the issue among the public and law enforcement agencies.

Where Can One Find Helpful Links, Government Laws, and Resources on Prostitution Legality?

For more information on the legal status of prostitution in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as related laws, policies, and resources, you can consult the following sources:

  • The Ministry of Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago: Provides access to the country’s laws and regulations, including those related to prostitution and human trafficking.
  • The Protection Project: Offers a comprehensive report on human rights issues in Trinidad and Tobago, including information on prostitution and trafficking laws.
  • U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report: Provides an annual assessment of the government of Trinidad and Tobago’s efforts to combat human trafficking, including in the context of prostitution.

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