Policy: Illegal. There is a plethora of laws against the sex trade, including one in 1985 to ban devidasis, or temple prostitutes.
Practice: Organized networks for buying and selling women and girls exist despite the legislation. Devidasis continue to be sold to the temples. Any sexual intercourse outside socially acceptable unions is likely to be regarded as prostitution.
Policy: Illegal and punishable by imprisonment. Egyptian law states that a man who is caught with a prostitute is not imprisoned; instead, his testimony is used to convict and imprison the prostitute.
Practice: Prostitutes are socially ostracized.
Policy: The 1925 Penal Code stated that prostitution was not a crime in itself, but that it was a crime to advocate it, to aid or abet a woman to enter prostitution or to operate a brothel. The current regime believes that execution – by firing squad or stoning – is a more fitting penalty.
Practice: Execution is common. Some Iranian feminists regard mut’a, a form of temporary marriage where the woman has few rights, as akin to prostitution. Under mut’a, it is possible to be ‘married’ for as little as half an hour.
Policy: No legal definition of prostitution in the Penal Code. But it is illegal to live off the earnings of prostitution.
Practice: Prostitution is increasing in urban areas as many rural migrant women fail to find other employment. Police regularly harass prostitutes. Researchers on AIDS and prostitution report that any woman who is single and has multiple male sex partners is considered to be a prostitute, whether or not money changes hands.
Policy: It is illegal under the Criminal Code to work as a prostitute or to live off the earnings of a prostitute.
Practice: Prostitutes operate as ‘entertainers’. Sex tourism, including sex with children, is common, though the majority of clients are local.