Prostitution across the Americas
To some, prostitution is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of the streets of Mexico or Colombia. In cities like Bogotá and Mexico City, you may see prostitutes lining the streets in broad daylight. It may seem like the countries with booming public prostitution industries have not solved the problem, yet they have at least addressed the problem of an ancient occupation that spans the globe.
The misconception that the act of legalizing prostitution causes human trafficking and risk to minors is a dangerous misconception. Legalizing the process allows it to be regulated and brought to light, even though some countries have not taken the proper steps after legalization. If something is not legal, it is done in dark alleys. The more transparent the process, the easier it is to regulate and protect those that do such things.
Regardless of how a nation deals with prostitution, actually dealing with it is the first step. Prostitution will never be a safe or victim-less industry and it will also never be eliminated. Pretending like it is a problem of low class society and pushing it into darkness is a dangerous epidemic the United States has long practiced.
None of these countries have mastered the correct way of dealing with this dangerous issue, yet a few are on the right path. Protecting youngsters and women from being trafficked should be the first priority. Protecting the workers and clients from disease and violence should come next. All in all, regulation and transparency can only help a dangerous yet unstoppable industry.
A glance at how different countries in the Americas deal with prostitution.
Prostitution is legal, yet almost anything associated with it is illegal. This gives room for law enforcement to tolerate prostitution yet make crack downs when necessary. Prostitution is not regulated.
Prostitution in Belize City is mainly drug fueled. Escorts in resort areas are more expensive and delivered to resorts.
Prostitution is legal, pimping is not. Prostitution is widespread in most of the nation. Women often travel willingly or are trafficked to other neighboring countries to work.
The act of prostitution itself, selling sex for money, is legal. Brothels and soliciting in public are illegal. All soliciting and sex acts must be done in private.
Prostitution is legal and lightly regulated. Sex tourism occurs in coastal cities. Women are trafficked willingly and also unwillingly to Mexico and Panama for work.
Pimping is banned but brothels are legal and somewhat regulated.
Prostitution is legal and regulated. Women must be at least 18 years old and carry a health card that shows the last time of STD testing. Pimping is illegal but brothel ownership is legal.
Sex tourism is common yet has not become a huge problem as far as age and violence is concerned. If convicted of having sex with a minor, you can be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
All forms of prostitution are illegal. Sex for pay can be found in Havana for tourists and visitors.
Prostitution is legal, but pimping and brothel ownership is not. Issues such as sex tourism and youngster prostitution is a problem in some areas.
Prostitution is legal and fully regulated. Health regulations are in place to monitor sexual health.
Brothel ownership and prostitution is legal. Health checks are rare. Teenage girls are sometimes lured and forced into prostitution or trafficked to higher traffic areas.
Prostitution is legal, yet it is not regulated. Brothels and street-walkers are illegal yet tolerated in many areas. Regulation and a massive clean-up is much in need.
Drug fuels prostitution is common along the Mexico border. Men traveling back and forth frequent these low end brothels and street workers.
Prostitution is illegal and a concern because of AIDS. Penalties are stiff, but not regularly enforced.
All forms of prostitution are technically banned. Haiti holds the highest percentage of slaves in the Western Hemisphere which leads to illegal sex practices.
Prostitution is legal, yet the act of marketing the services is not. Women are moved from rural to urban areas and often to neighboring countries.
Prostitution is legal. 18 of the 32 states regulate prostitution. It is illegal for prostitution to involve minors under 18. Services can be as cheap as $5 in Mexico City and up to thousands for high end resort escorts in Cancun.
Some cities have a designated red zone for legal prostitution. This allows police to keep an eye on things and women working outside of this zone are considered illegal. Cities like Tijuana and Nuevo Laredo have highly guarded red zones. Women working in the northern border cities are rarely from the area. Girls are brought from southern states to work. Many women are working off their debts to be taken into the United States, while others were promised modeling or acting work.
Mexico has one of the better guidelines set up, yet most cities do not enforce them effectively.
Prostitution is legal and regulated. Sex tourism is a problem. Teenage girls are lured into sex work instead of finishing school in some areas.
Prostitution is legal and regulated. Panama has one of the better programs in place to protect women and customers. Work visas are even offered to immigrant women to come and work as escorts. The laws are a little misleading to read, but regardless it allows women from Colombia, Venezuela, and other countries to arrive and work in a regulated strip club which duels as a brothel.
Regulated women are required to be regularly tested for STD's. Women who have expired visas often start working the streets at a discounted price, outside of the regulated brothels. This practice is illegal, yet is only prosecuted in some areas.
Prostitution is legal but rarely regulated. Women are trafficked to other South American countries.
Prostitution is legal, yet regulations are still underway. Peru is attempting to process health checks and have tolerated zones.
Prostitution is illegal, yet widespread. Laws are rarely enforced.
Prostitution is only legal in some rural counties of Nevada (not in Las Vegas, even though it is tolerated). Prostitution and human trafficking occurs in every major US city. As it is part of the underworld since it is not regulated, it is highly intertwined with the narcotic industry.
The US is a major destination point for trafficked women across the world. Some women are sold as household slaves, while others are forced to work on the streets for little to no pay.
Illegal brothels are common in most cities under the mask of massage parlors, cantina bars, and low end strip clubs. Escort services are also commonly found in almost any phone book.
Prostitutes in large cities tend to be a drug fueled industry. Women are working to pay for drug habits or are forced into sex labor to pay off debts. In Southwest states many illegal brothels have been uncovered which force women to work off their debt for being transited into the United States.
Websites like Craig's-List were used across the nation for soliciting prostitution. This actually allowed women to stay off the streets and make arrangements online and by phone. Crackdowns on sites like this have helped push the practice back to dark alleys.
Prostitution is legal, yet hardly regulated. Brothels are not legal. Women are often trafficked to other South American countries.
Prostitution is legal and regulated. Government numbers are rarely given. Services are solicited in broad daylight.
Trafficking may be prosecuted under criminal laws against forced prostitution and trafficking, with penalties of up to 20 years for using force to coerce a victim to perform a sexual act for a third person.
The law prohibits inducing the prostitution and corruption of minors. Penalties range from three to 18 months in prison and up to four years in prison if the minor is younger than 12 years old. If the crime is committed repeatedly or for profit, it is punishable by three to six years' imprisonment. Prison sentences for inducing a minor into prostitution are increased by up to five years if various aggravating circumstances occur. Penalties for several crimes relating to youngster prostitution do not apply if the perpetrator marries the victim.
By K. Mennem for Hell on Earth Blog