Prostitution in Oman
Prostitution in Oman is illegal, but women from Eastern Europe, South Asia, North Africa, and China engage in prostitution in the country. Prostitution occurs in bars, hotels, nightclubs, brothels, massage parlors and health clubs.
Only sex within a legalized marriage is permitted. Women's sex outside legal marriage is criminalised as zina (illegal sex, adultery, fornication). It is women, and not their clients, who are legally penalised for sex work which carries a jail sentence between three and five years. Living on the proceeds of prostitution is a crime, punishable by a fine and up to three months imprisonment (criminal code article 221). Additionally, any foreigner who commits an act against "public order or good morals" or who does not have a legal source of income may be deported (law 16 of 1995, articles 31 and 31).
Police crackdowns are frequent. 43 women were arrested in raids in Bausher in December 2016 and over 100 in simultaneous raids in Al Khuwayr in August 2017.
In the 3 years prior to August 2017, 273 people were arrested for prostitution and all received a minimum of 3 years jail sentence.
Oman is a destination and transit country for women, primarily from South and East Asia and East and North Africa, subjected to sex trafficking, often by nationals of their own countries. There have been anecdotal reports that female domestic workers from countries without a diplomatic presence in Oman are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking. Domestic workers who flee their employers are also vulnerable to forced prostitution.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, young women were trafficked from the former Soviet Union for sex work. In 2005 Oman ratified the International Labour Organization's 1959 convention prohibiting forced labour. By that time foreign migrant workers made up 60% of Oman's population, and their standard of living was lower than the Omani average (Oman is classified as "medium human development" by the United Nations Development Programme). Oman has a serious problem of people trafficking involving women and is considered a "Tier 2" country by the United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
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