Bolivia, prostitution is legal and regulated.
Prostitutes must register and must undergo regular health checks
for sexually transmitted diseases (every 20 days). The police are
allowed to check whether the prostitutes are registered or
Although prostitution is widespread in Bolivia, the prostitutes are
severely stigmatized by society, they are blamed for everything
from broken homes to the rising HIV
2007, in El
Alto, hundreads of prostitutes were attacked, forced to
strip and beaten by angry locals; several brothels were
Citizens demanded that brothels and bars be located
at least 3,200 feet away from schools. The municipal government
responded by closing all brothels within 1,600 feet of schools, but
took no action against those who had attacked the prostitutes. "We
are Bolivia's unloved," said Yuly Perez, vice-president of ONAEM,
the Bolivian sex workers' union, "If we don't work, who's going to
feed our kids?" Another representative from the sex worker
oraganization said that: "People think the point of our
organization is to expand prostitution in Bolivia. In fact, we want
the opposite. Our ideal world is one free of the economic
desperation that forces women into this business."
In Bolivia, the average age of entry into prostitution is 16.
Child prostitution is a serious problem,
particularly in urban areas and in the Chapare
Most prostituted children come from the lower social
classes and from broken families. Only 12.6% of the prostituted
children have any education, leaving them with few opportunities.
As a result, many remain in the sex trade throughout adulthood,
despite wanting to exit. Approximately one third of girls and
adolescents in prostitution have between one and five children,
mostly under the age of 5.Most child prostitutes work on the
streets, inside brothels or inside bars and clubs.
There are different types of child prostitution, varying with the
economic power of the client and the age of the child. Upper-class
clients tend to seek older adolescents aged 16-17 (and youg adult
prostitutes aged 18-20). Many of these youth come from Eastern
Bolivia and from outside of the country. This type of prostitution
is organised by closed networks, and is subject to very few
controls. In some cases, the sexual contact between these
adolescents and their clients takes place at the client’s house.
Adolescents from all parts of the country prostitute themselves in
local bars or pubs, mainly for middle-class clients. Street prostitution
involves women and
girls of all ages who typically enter the trade when they are
between the ages of 12 and 15 years. Finally, there is a form of
“hidden” prostitution, which can involve children as young as 8
years, often in exchange for drugs or some kind of treat or toy.
During the day, these children stay in the street often working as
street vendors, domestic servants or waitresses. At night they go
to dance clubs or sell alcohol in the street. Clients of this type
of prostitution are generally adults or adolescents with little
The problem of child prostitution is exacerbated by poorly enforced
laws and by rare and ineffective police raids. However, recently,
more efforts have been done to address this problem; in 2008, the
police raided several brothels
215 children who were working there.The International Organization
for Migration (IOM) and the NGOs Save the Children and
Pro-Adolescente conducted public awareness campaigns on the
of children. La Paz
Department and the La Paz city government each operate a shelter
for abused and exploited children.
Economic and social problems create a climate which is favorable to
. Young Bolivian women
and girls are trafficked from rural to urban areas for commercial
sexual exploitation; women and children from the indigenous ethnic
groups in the Altiplano region are at greater risk of being trafficked into prostitution.
with extreme poverty, many citizens become economic migrants, and
some are victimized by traffickers and forced into prostitution,
both inside and outside Bolivia.
country is also a source for victims trafficked for sexual
exploitation to Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Spain, and the
Weak controls along the borders exacerbate
In 2008, the Bolivian national police investigated 229 cases
involving human trafficking, most of them related to
Bolivia is a Tier 2 country, the Government of Bolivia does not
fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of
trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do