Prostitution in Panama

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Prostitution in Panama is legal and regulated. Prostitutes are required to register and carry identification cards.[1]

However, the majority of prostitutes are not registered; 2,650 sex workers were registered with the government in 2008, but there was no accurate information regarding the total number of persons practicing prostitution in the country.[2]

Prostitutes are known to gather in front of tourist areas such as hotels and casinos. Many prostitutes in Panama, are not only Panamanian but Colombians who come to earn money as well. They are considered to charge higher prices for their services. The average cost for local girls (Panamanians) are $30.00 to $50.00 while Colombian women ask for as much as $100.00.[3]

Prostitutes lose their identity in the process. They go from their government name to being known by their street name and start to belong to a new family while leaving their original family for work. Being a sex worker where sexually transmitted diseases are rampant, prostitutes receive no pension plan or retirement from their field of work. Many are left with incarceration if caught, an addiction to drugs, and HIV which then progresses towards AIDS. [4][5]

In some places, prostitution is very much accepted due to the fact that many see advantages more than disadvantages to it. A beneficial argument from plantation workers has been that homosexuality amongst workers decrease with the idea of female prostitutes. But with some of the acceptance of prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases increase and are still rising along with human trafficking. [6] The principal traffickers in the country are owners of houses of prostitution, and most transnational trafficking occurs using valid travel documents and is conducted through official ports of entry. The PNP Sex Crimes Unit reported that most victims trafficked into the country came from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Central America. The primary destinations for people trafficked from the country are Jamaica and Europe.[2]

HIV/AIDS in Panama[edit]

HIV/AIDS statistics in October 2003 for Latin American countries lists Panama as one of the four with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence. “According to the document titled HIV/AIDS in Central America: An Overview of the Epidemic and Priorities for Prevention, HIV adult prevalence seems to be highest in Belize (2 percent), followed by Honduras (1.6 percent), Panama (1.5 percent), Guatemala (1 percent), El Salvador (0.6 percent), Costa Rica (0.6 percent), and Nicaragua (0.2 percent), based on UNAIDS estimates”. According to HIV/AIDS in Central America: An Overview of the Epidemic and Priorities for Prevention, the cause of this disease is assumed to be from heterosexual sex yet it’s also prevalent in high-risk populations among men being sexually active with other men, prostitutes, and commercial workers. With men being the highest ones with the disease, women are beginning to catch up to them. [7]

In 2000, public and private financing given to public health and HIV prevention activities was $800,000 in Panama.[8]


Underage Sex Laws in Panama[edit]

According to Article 34 of the country’s Civil Code, the age of consent for girls is twelve years of age and fourteen years of age for boys.[9]

Article 179, Penal Code states that anyone who promotes the corruption of a minor under the age of eighteen by encouraging the victim to participate in or witness sexual acts that affect their psychosexual development will be punished by imprisonment for five to seven years. The penalty will be aggravated to between seven and ten years in prison of the victim is under the age of fourteen or fell pregnant; the offense was committed jointly by two or more persons; the offender used deception, violence, intimidation, abuse of authority or trust, or if the victim was infected with a sexually transmitted disease, among other aggravating circumstances.[10]

Article 174, Penal Code this Article states that anyone who, by force or intimidation, commits sexual intercourse of any kind with another person of either sex, will be liable to imprisonment for five to ten years. The penalty will be increased to eight to twelve years’ imprisonment if the victim falls pregnant or suffers physical or psychological harm; if the perpetrator was the victim’s educator, priest or pastor; if the crime was committed jointly by two or more persons, or if the offense was committed in a particularly degrading or humiliating manner, among other aggravating circumstances. A further increased sentence of between ten to fifteen years’ imprisonment will apply if the offender knew he/she was carrying an incurable sexually transmitted disease or the HIV virus.[11]

Article 175, Penal Code states, among other things, that sexual intercourse with another person, even without force or threat, is punishable by imprisonment for ten to fifteen years if the victim was under the age of fourteen.[12]

Article 176, Penal Code imposes a penalty of imprisonment for between two and four years for anyone who, by taking advantage of a position and mediating consent, has sexual contact with a minor aged fourteen or over but under eighteen. The sentence will increase to between five and a half and six years if the victim falls pregnant or is infected with a contagious sexually transmitted disease. It is a valid defense to a charge under this Article if the accused and the victim were in a relationship and the age difference does not exceed five years.[13]

Article 177, Penal Code defines the offense of sexually abusing another person without the act of penetration. The punishment for this offense is between one and three years’ imprisonment or a fine. An increased penalty of between two to four years’ imprisonment will apply if the victim is under the age of eighteen or the offender abused his/her position.[14]

Article 186, Penal Code defines the offense of paying in any form or gratifying a minor between the age of fourteen and seventeen, to perform a sexual act with himself/herself or a third person. The offense is punishable by imprisonment for five to eight years. Where the victim is under the age of fourteen the sentence will increase to six to ten years’ imprisonment.[15]

Article 187, Penal Code this Article states that anyone who uses, allows or permits a minor to participate in acts or indecent exposure or pornography, whether or not actually recorded, photographed or filmed, will be liable to imprisonment for six to eight years. The same penalty applies to anyone who uses email, the Internet or any other regional or mass media to incite minors to engage in online sex, or to provide or stimulate sexual services, through any of the above means, by phone or in person.[16]

Article 189, Penal Code states that anyone who has knowledge of the use of minors in pornography or sexual activities, whether the person obtained such information by means of his or her duties, job, business, profession, or by any other means, and fails to report it to the authorities, he or she will be imprisoned for a term between six months to two years. If the commission of the crime cannot be proved after the report, the person who reported it will be exempted of any liability with regards to his or her report to the authorities.[17]

Article 190, Penal Code, imposes a penalty of imprisonment for eight to ten years for anyone who promotes, directs, organizes, advertises, invites, facilitates or arranges for any local or mass media, local or international sex tourism, the recruitment of a minor aged between fourteen and seventeen for sexual exploitation, whether this actually takes place or not. The penalty will increase by half the maximum sentence if the victim is under the age of fourteen.[18]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Is this the time or place to publish the profane?". thepanamanews.com. Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  2. ^ a b 2008 Human Rights Report: Panama. State.gov (2009-02-25). Retrieved on 2011-03-30.
  3. ^ "Underage Prostitutes Walk the streets of Central America." PANAMA TIMES & COSTA RICA TIMES. Templar Panama, 21 Dec. 2009. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.
  4. ^ Tricking and Tripping: Prostitution in the Era of AIDS. Claire E. Sterk Putnam Valley, NY: Social Change Press, 2000. 178.
  5. ^ Bletzer, Keith V. (2008, January 7). [Review of the book Tricking and Tripping: Prostitution in the Era of AIDS by C. E. Sterk]. Sociocultural Anthropology, 261, 262.
  6. ^ Enloe, Cynthia H. Bananas, beaches & bases: making feminist sense of international politics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. 141.
  7. ^ "HIV/AIDS in Central America." Worldbank. The World Bank, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  8. ^ "HIV/AIDS in Central America." Worldbank. The World Bank, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  9. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  10. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  11. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  12. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  13. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  14. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  15. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  16. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  17. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
  18. ^ "Panama." Fosigrid. Global Resources and Information Directory, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.