Morocco: On Legalizing Prostitution

New York  / Morocco Board News ----  There is something highly hypocritical about prostitution in Morocco and elsewhere in the Arab world. Of course it is contrary to Sharia law, and for some liberally-challenged faithful watcher of [religious TV station] Iqra, it should be severely punished, a beheading is usually considered to be a fair punishment (supposedly, so that they can think twice about it before they go on the game again), never mind what the Sharia itself provides as a punishment. In an ideal world of Islamic ‘imara (إمارة), perhaps it would not have existed; Presumably a time where every Arab nation would be an aggregate of tribes, shepherds, farmers and warriors, with little or no means of communications. In the present world, it is quite certain that if government around the Middle East & North Africa region were to marshal forces to fend off any kind of prostitution or solicitation of sexual intercourse of any kind, if they really do take it to heart, then they would be slipping slowly towards a totalitarian state. The kind of state Afghanistan was -and to some extent, still is- or Iran. In a nutshell, the dividing line is that between the ideological, religious stance of zero-tolerance, that of direct repression, and the dispassionate, practical-oriented view seeking the achievement of greater if not optimal common welfare, and indeed it cannot be achieved by systematic prohibition, the policies to address the matter and others structuring the social fabric, are so intertwined as they are part of a package that any courageous and committed government cannot succeed only by implementing all of them. Legalizing prostitution for one.

Well, as far as Morocco was concerned, there were brothels well into late 1970′s. Even the Forces Armées Royales had their own. Our country apparently enjoying a dubious reputation of that of a homeland to Filles Faciles in the Middle East. Whether that reputation is well-deserved or not is a matter of debate. This is quite irrelevant to the following: How many prostitutes (male and female alike) are there in Morocco? how is prostitution structured: are there more individuals free-lance, or more organized networks? There is also another anomaly in our grand old society: it is common use to be complacent about young men to have pre-marital sexual relationship, and prostitutes are the most straightforward way to do so. It goes back of course to the inherently patriarchal features of our society. In a sense, prostitutes are tolerated -but many blind themselves on that issue- but everyone claim purity and chastity on the behalf of their female relatives. If anything, the generic prostitute was a woman with hard luck: a divorcee with no one to sustain her, a victim of rape, cast aside by her family (a high percentage of sex workers are divorced women who got married at a very early age. UNFPA). What an efficient way to dispose of the undesirable of the so-called Islamic society.
What is the philosophical justification behind one’s selling their body, or more precisely, charge for intimate intercourse? Many capitalist I am afraid. Even though orthodox Marxists would classify prostitutes (male and female alike) as lumpen-proletariat, the process of alienation is strikingly similar to that of regular proletariats: after all, both do sell part of their workforce for a wage. In purely economic terms, prostitution, when carried out properly, is quite close to that of a regular worker. As indeed the paid wage maintains the workforce and does not degrade it (say, like a physical asset), so is prostitution: under conditions of safe sex and the use of prophylactics and regular check-ups, individual subject to prostitution  will equally maintain their workforce.  And indeed, if any serious study was carried out to understand the main reasons why young men and women turn into streetwalkers, It has a comfortable margin of success to explain it as a lack of suitable resources. One might argue -but then get labelled as a cynic- that prostitution is “fair game”, and thus, a mean like many others to earn a living. On the other hand, moralists can argue that prostitution degrades human beings, and forces them into submission to beastly instinct. that’s a perfectly valid point. But money talks. Claudine Legardinier did say that all prostituted women agree on the fact that their first client was the one who counted the most. The first who paid for rape opens the way to all the others. At first, the women think that they’ll stop as soon as they’ll have put money aside, but the amount of drugs and alcohol they need in order to be able to hang on makes it impossible to stop. Although they say that they get paid a lot of money, most of them are in debt.

The proposed policy is difficult to implement. Out of the top of my head, it is mission impossible to find a credible figure for the number of prostitutes in Morocco: how many, nor where they are concentrated (although one can venture an educated guess), or even if there was a serious attempt to ask them some questions. Social workers staff are not numbers are not enough, or ill-trained, ill-funded and certainly lacking the political will to tackle the issue. So there it goes: legalizing prostitution means changing substantial parts of the present penal code, as well as enacting a prostitution law that gives legislative framework for the occupation of sex worker, a legislation on brothels, sanitary standards, the re-designation of the vice squad’s missions to enforce the law, and finally, a cadre of social workers to help the prostitutes to get away from their work, either by means of education, or indeed micro-finance. Any levied tax on these activities would contribute in financing the various costs in setting up the responsible bodies.

The Law: Changing the law does not cost much, or if it does, its cost will certainly be part of the whole constitutional reform, that would certainly encompass the penal code: that kind of law is bound to bring fiscal benefits rather than be a burden on the taxpayer. a progressive and radical agenda would seek abolishing those articles that prevent individual liberties, and their corollary on “vice” (article 490 for a start). Legalizing prostitution however, involves a great deal of finesse in shaping the legislation itself: prostitution is legal, but soliciting is not. In any case, loopholes will certainly need to be as small as possible, since they involve a power of interpretation from the law enforcer, i.e. the police, which is notoriously corrupt, discretionary and indeed abusive in its enforcement. the lower blurred margins are, the better and the more efficient law enforcement will be. As the matter remains quite trivial (compared to others, much more universal) lawmaking remains within the gift of the elected regional bodies. That’s a simple way to escape difficult decisions to make at a federal level, but it also does give a margin by de-penalizing prostitution as a federal law (which means that it is still illegal, but there will be no enforcement to prevent it). The regional elected assemblies will therefore just determine the level of tolerance to it.

How would it work? It has been proven, though with some criticism, that sex workers are relatively safer in organized structures (brothels) and their activity can be more easily quantified and thus taxed (with all the benefits of getting underground activities and incomes into the regular economy). There’s a certain amount of paperwork to be filled out for licenses, medical and administrative routine controls, rates of VAT to be determined, social security, health insurance, but also the right to gather into unions, networks or pressure groups. (I am not a lawyer, so I get bored very easily with the legislative details.)
The resources: the tricky part. Because the number of prostitutes is unknown or difficult to get, an estimate would be the starting point. The scheme might even be properly funded from the outside, as indeed HIV contamination among prostitutes is quite high compared to that of the overall population (according to the UNFPA, respectively 2.1% and 0.1%). The regulations will certain state that sex workers should be compelled to use condoms and other prophylactic devices, which will certainly win favor with international institutions like the World Health Organization. Following various studies, large-scale prostitution is mainly concentrated in tourism-oriented cities like Marrakech, Agadir, Tangiers, and Casablanca for its population density. If there is any doubt about the feasibility of such policy, it would be wise though to implement it in one area as a test group. Again, the cost incurred would be minimal: police would merely re-assign its tourism brigade and the vice squad to other tasks. As for the social workers’ establishment, various experiences do prove that it remains feasible. the Families and Social Cohesion department got involved in comparable strategies, which costs overall MAD 191 Mn (2010 Budget). A substantial part of  the centralized expenditure can be deviated and put into such projects, in one of the regions of course, as a feasibility test. The human element in any case, would represent a modest sum compared to the total expenditure (a little under 24%). the Health Department has also experienced and trained personnel that can be of help too.
Legalizing prostitution, in essence, is a straightforward strategy to allow for social workers to target sex-workers, engage with them on matters of health and sanitary standards, and later on, when trust and acceptance ties are made, to talk them into scheme the government would be providing for them: free training for more conventional jobs, part-time education for those who did not achieve minimal levels of education, and ultimately, finance for small business project that could get them away from prostitution.

The Ultimate Objective is of course, to get rid of it gradually. The core argument for legalizing it is to control it, and only so would the authorities be able to influence the outcome in favor of a long term abolition of prostitution. There is also the wider picture to bear in mind: if the domestic economy can sustain a long and healthy growth, income gaps and poverty are bound to be reduced, and so the chances for young men and women to fall into prostitution. It also prevent the likelihoods of children to become victims of prostitution themselves. Now that sex workers are protected by law, enforcement can be targeted more effectively against child abuse, and any activity related to pedophile tourism.

There is evidence that such policies can have positive effects, either on the state’s finance, or on the number of prostitutes and their HIV infection rate. If implemented, these policies can reduce the number of sex workers in Morocco (as our country does not face the contingency of mass immigration) In Turkey, sex workers are required to register or to carry an ID. In Germany and in the Netherlands, these policies were successful, save for the problem of human trafficking.

Comments (18)  

+2 #1 give me my 10 minutes back...reading this article was a pure waste of time..Kamara 2010-12-05 01:24
so you want to legalize prostitution, I assume for social reasons, and the state gets to make money? why? and wouldn't that make us pimps of some sort?
Corruption is also a problem/phenome non should we make it legal? did I forget to say that it is equally punished by Sharia?
Why the whole discussion about Iran and Afghanistan (you forgot Saudi Arabia) when prostitution is illegal in here in (most of) the US and was illegal in the atheist-based soviet union and continues to be illegal in the equally atheist China...
I don't get this legalize to fight, if it's legal why fight it?
0 #2 moroccans against islammoroqui 2010-12-05 03:49
Legalize pedofilia and zoofilia and lets make of us some good democratic unbelievers... Well, I think that it'll be hard for people like you who do not believe in allah to convince moroccans to follow your path to hell. You know... By hell I meen one of the things the overwelming majority of this country strongly believes in.
Good luck and best regards
Moroccan in the U.S.
+2 #3 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Morocco: On Legalizing ProstitutionMoroccan in the U.S. 2010-12-05 06:47

This is too long of an article for a "hypothetically speaking" sort of subject.
Your article raised valid questions for the imagination only, but imagination is not why I come to this site.

man en blanc
-1 #4 Once upon a time : Khenifra!man en blanc 2010-12-05 07:49
I tell the sanctimonious among us, get over it!
Prostitution played a major role in the history of the Moslem world. In fact, it has been celebrated throughout the Moslem literature through countless poems and endless re-tellings of the fabled Arabian Nights, Scheherezade and other let-s-now-prete nd-it-never-hap pened stories.

Women alone should decide if prostitution should be legalized or not. If they ever reach equality with men in the Moslem world that is!
But that will never happen. So deeper underground they go, and bigger the hypocrisy the Moslems men shall nurture!

-1 #5 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Morocco: On Legalizing ProstitutionTruthSeeker 2010-12-05 08:41
can I have the same drink as Mr. Zouhair Baghough is having ?
+1 #6 SarcasmMorcelli 2010-12-05 08:53
Legalizing Prostitution could be a good thing for Morocco. Too many men beating their wives out of frustration, Having a prostitute in the corner will definitely alleviate the misery of those women who get beaten by Moroccan men on a daily basis.

Prostitution could also generate some extra income for al qaid, mqaddem, merda, and the police. It doe not hurt. Money does a body good!

Prostitution could also help the tourism industry , didn't I hear that Morocco wants 20 millions tourists by 2020?

Prostitution will probably make Moroccan more aware of the danger of unprotected sex and AIDS. There will more classes offered for free to prostitutes because they will be paying taxes after all.
As for going to hell, well some say: isn't Morocco hell enough?
0 #7 are you insulting us?ram 2010-12-05 09:41
This is just an insult to the Moroccans and to Moroccan'women. You talking like 50% of Moroccan women are out there doing prostitution. Why not adding legal drugs and legal homosexuality? excuse me Mr, Morocco has been a conservative country and shall remain. your 2000 text pages are just useless when morocco is facing international terrorism and STD like aids. Is this the solution you giving to those minorities? instead of fixing the problem, you want to make it a valid job. those women need help not a shameful ID.
Moroccan Patriot
-1 #8 Legalizing Prostitution is NOT the Answer, stricter Enforcement is the solutionMoroccan Patriot 2010-12-05 12:31
Morocco is NOT a muslim Nation. Morocco is NOT a muslim nation because Alcohol is LEGAL in Morocco, it may not be technically legal for Moroccans (yet another apartheid law) but it is legal for White people (those treated better than their brown skinned compatriots in their own country!)

Legalizing Prostitution hurts the image of Moroccans. Personally, I think legalizing Hashish makes a lot more sense, I mean since Morocco is NOT a muslim nation, legalizing something that actually grows in Morocco and can be sold at a very large profit margin in the country might be good for the economic well being of the nation, to say nothing of the tax revenue that could be generated from taxing and regulating it.

Now we come to the worlds oldest profession, what is wrong with women having the means to support themselves? Prostitution would seem to accomplish this end, but if Morocco were truly a muslim nation, women would NEVER have to resort to this degrading means to support their children.

I personally believe that the best way to handle prostitution is to stone both the whores and their clients to death in a Public square. However, in order to do this, there must be four witnesses to the actual event or a confession. Sharia law is the best law ever, but it only works in Muslim nations ruled by Muslim leaders, Morocco clearly falls short on both counts.
+1 #9 to man en blancKamara 2010-12-05 13:24
There is a difference between tolerating and legalizing...

If your main problem with prostitution is the moslem society hypocrisy towards it, well isn't it the same in most of the western world and even in the other parts of the world?

I don't get what you mean by "Women alone should decide if prostitution should be legalized or not". Why? Don't You think this will hurt the feelings of all male prostitutes?
+2 #10 Yes LeglaizeLike_it_is 2010-12-05 23:14
si zouhir:
Yes, it would be great to legalize it. I am for that! Many may initially take issue with that but with some education and overtime, they will get it and get used to it!
Aziz El Alami
+2 #11 ...Aziz El Alami 2010-12-05 23:30
Now here is a topic worth discussing… So what if innocent Moroccans are dying due to floods caused by our crumbling infrastructure? So what if fellow citizens were recently beheaded in the south? So what if Spain and Algeria are still mingling in our internal affairs? So what if our literacy rate is at below 40%? So what if corruption remains the only way to get anything done in Morocco??? Oh no, these are minor issues, let’s instead talk about legalizing prostitution… Why not legalize Drugs and Alcohol while we are at it? – Wait a minute – those are already legal, or so it seems, for the elites amongst us.
man en blanc
+2 #12 To Kamara,man en blanc 2010-12-06 01:33
Sorry,I should have said : Only prostitutes should decide whether to legalize or not.

There is a reason why it is called "le plus vieux métier du monde". It had proven itself virtually impossible to eradicate throughout the ages. And stoning is not an option.Except in Oklahoma. LOL

So why not deal with it in a modern fashion?
+1 #13 A Recipe For DisasterSlawi 2010-12-06 05:13
The existence of legalized brothels in Morocco date since the early 20’s. At a time when basha Thami el-Glaoui a puppet under the orders of his master Lyautey was playing the pimp by getting a cut on the income of Marrakesh’s several thousand prostitutes. Lyautey legalized prostitution to control it (diseases, MST’s) and to have a cheap white meat for his soldiers who were busy pacifying Morocco.
After 1956, prostitution was officially banned. However, many small villages in Morocco kept dealing with this problem to sustain their families. For some it was a way of life and I don’t want here to name any place or any village in order not to hurt the feeling of anybody.
Nowadays, unfortunately prostitution became a scourge. Prostitution is everywhere, in towns and villages. We’re seeing prostitutes males and females in the streets, in the hotels, in the riads…etc…. In my opinion this is the result of a failed economy of a failed state. This is the result of 50 years of misappropriatio n of public funds, embezzlement, and corruption.
Legalizing prostitution is not going to resolve the problems of Morocco, nor those of the prostitutes. It will make some pimps rich, but keep the prostitute in a desperate poverty. Moreover, this will hurt the economy because we’re dealing here with an illiterate populace who will be at the mercy of MST’s and AIDS. Especially when we know that the borders are wide open for tourists from all over the world. Legalizing prostitution for a country like Morocco is a recipe for disaster.
-3 #14 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Morocco: On Legalizing ProstitutionTruthSeeker 2010-12-07 01:34
Moslem should read what Koran say about prostitution
Sharia law and Fique is UnIslamic
Both are made up things by Shia Imams and Moula for their political agendas
to control and profit from Moslem people
Islam is very personal religion between God and human kind with all created things
Real Moslem are afraid and reject sharia law and fique
Be real, read Koran and be free of control of and evil of created things
-2 #15 Not a good idea.Hazem 2011-02-20 03:31
Dear All,
i am a foreigner,
just come to Morocco for a project.
indeed as i am a Muslim, i have very good interest in every Muslim States.
hence i would like to say at this hour that if lehalized there will not be any control but in contrary to this will possibly wintess the monster growth and panetration on sex workers in the society. hence it is just piece of cake if a well planed staragy implemented to curb the prostitutions and ensure clean and True islamic idintity of Morocco.
-1 #16 yeswomen 2012-11-29 18:31
If you the Moroccan men are willingly so bad we the Moroccan women don't want to be a casualty of mariage.Sooner or later you have to accept that your mariage modelleis obsolete.
totalitarianism is evil
-1 #17 you've done a good jobtotalitarianism is evil 2012-11-29 18:46
Thank you, for this bright spot in a more modern world.
youssef from sale
+1 #18 RE: Morocco: On Legalizing Prostitutionyoussef from sale 2013-07-14 10:47
please every one , leave the Moroccan women alone , they are the best women in the entire arab world , if they work as a prostitutes that is not by choice , trust me guys all these women work as a prostitutes to support their families , I live in morocco and it is too hard to find job that can pay , please leave these women alone , if you can help them go ahead and help but don't call them bad name , they are a good women , the fact they are a very good women , they are doing this very dirty job to support their families , if the Moroccan men get to marry these women they will help to stop prostitution but too bad men in morocco refuse to marry these women , so the only way for them to make a living is to became prostitutes , for me as a man I will be very happy to marry one of these women if she is willing to stop this job after marriage , and I hope all Moroccan men to go ahead and marry these women and offer them good life and help them to stop doing these kind of work ,that will be the only way to stop prostitution in morocco, God bless. thanks.

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