Deputies of Tajikistan’s lower house (Majlisi Namoyandagon) of parliament (Majlisi Oli) have unanimously voted for amendments proposed by the government to the country’s Penal Code. The amendments toughen punishment for brothel keeping, news.tj reports.
A regular sitting of the Majlisi Namoyandagon, presided over by its head, Shukurjon Zuhurov, took place on November 28.
Presenting the bill on amendments proposed by the government to the country’s Penal Code to lawmakers, MP Bakhtovar Safarzoda noted that those keeping a brothel will now be punished by up to eight years in jail.
Earlier, arrested prostitutes had just to pay a nominal fine and those keeping a brothel had being punished by a fine ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 somoni or by up to five years in jail.
In 2015 a new law was passed that doubled the fine for solicitation and added 15 days of home arrest to the punishment.
Recall, Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry was cracking down on prostitution in June 2014, detaining 505 sex workers during the campaign’s first few days.
Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda launched the operation in early June after publicly expressing concern about the growth of “immoral crimes,” including prostitution (an administrative offense) and human trafficking. “People who are detained for immoral crimes or have venereal diseases, their names, photos and fingerprints will be entered to a special electronic database,” the minister said on June 5, 2014.
Sex workers who were detained had to undergo tests; the results showed 450 out of 505 detainees were carrying some sort of sexually transmitted disease (STD), the Interior Ministry said on June 12. Several dozens of them were reportedly fined.
Prostitution has traditionally been a taboo topic in Tajikistan, and strong social stigmas are attached to the occupation. But in legal terms prostitution is only a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine, and officials have documented a rise in the number of sex workers in the country.
Thus, government official figures for 2015 were 1,777 prostitutes and 194 brothels. Prostitution occurs on the streets and in bars, restaurants, nightclubs and saunas, and HIV prevalence is 3.5% amongst sex workers.