Prostitution in Panama #2: Laws


Prostitution has become a real problem for the Panamanian society at present. On a previous article we talked about the different zones where this type of business flourishes, becoming part of the landscape of multiple areas in Panama City.

One particularity of this issue is that prostitution is legal in Panama: there is no provision in the Penal Code regarding this practice. There is a clear regulatory gap, but yet doesn’t allow pimps to be prosecuted.

Read here about Prostitution areas in Panama (Spanish) >> 

This weak legalization is responsible for the increase in prostitution at bars and establishments offering these services to their clients, contributing to the exponential growth of prostitution.

Article 10, Decree 87

One of the legal tools the government tries to use against illegal prostitution is the provisions of Article 10, Decree 87, which states that before issuing a business license to hotels, inns, etc., the governor of the province and a security professional commissioner must inspect the locations to ensure their safety and morality.

The enforcement of this article is starting to show results, and according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (Mici), more than twenty establishments will close their doors during the next months for not having the relevant licenses and for providing illegal sexual services.

It seems, thus, that this first measure serves as a barrier to slow down the uncontrolled prostitution on the streets of Panama. All legal provisions aim to end sexual exploitation, mafias, etc. They don’t prosecute people who voluntarily enter into these “business” activities.

Follow-up and Street Control

There is a general feeling against the government’s attitude towards prostitution, criticizing its inaction against this situation due to the current legislative weakness favoring the growth of these sexual businesses.

Prostituta en Panama Ciudad

Prostitute in Panama City

The Government tries to reassure citizens outlining control plans and conducting raids at the places known for this kind of activity: Via Veneto, Calle 50, Plaza 5 de Mayo, etc. The inspections of these establishments have multiplied, looking for irregularities or non-existent licenses that ensure the good use of this facilities.  It is still not enough, so promoting tougher regulations in regards to prostitution is a possible option, but nothing concrete has materialized so far.

Health and Information Issue

Obviously, when dealing with sex, the population should be provided with all the necessary information regarding the consequences of not taking precautions and how to have the right attitude towards the subject. Both sex workers as well as their clients could be an active source of sexually transmitted diseases, which nowadays should be a very well known, avoidable problem.  Health is another main subject that goes hand-in-hand with prostitution. Spreading this message will generate the appropriate responsible information to deal with this matter.

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