Kazakhstan has been a notorious country in terms of prostitution and solicitation hotspots. While prostitution was banned in the country when it was a part of the USSR, a few years after Kazakhstan gained independence, the laws prohibiting prostitution were abolished in 2001. The result is a far-flung prostitution ring often backed up by law enforcement officers and officials. Although prostitution is legal in the country, acts promoting prostitution such as brothels or prostitution ring are against the law.
While prostitution as a legal concept should not be an issue on the paper, in reality, it tends to hide many vices under its folds such as child trafficking, harassment, extortion, and rape. One Google search and you will be presented with multiple sites explaining to you how to solicit sex in the country. Under the veil of legalization, miscreants prostitute minors and even export them to other countries. It is said that around one-third of the prostitutes in the country are under-age.
In 2014, Economic Times published a piece where it highlighted how Kazakhstan’s senior diplomat in Delhi Timur Nogaibayev had brought up the issue of the country becoming a sex hotspot and promoting child trafficking and extortion. “Kazakhstan has maintained progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and prohibits trafficking in persons for both labor and sexual exploitation. It has passed amendments to its anti-trafficking legislation in 2013, that increased penalties for trafficking in persons and aligned its definition of human trafficking with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime,” Timu Nogaibayev had said.
Kazakhstan had then paid particular attention to India and its “rich and enterprising middle class” for the development of its tourism and sight-seeing. As a part of a plan to get rid of the sex tourism hotspot stigma, Kazakhstan had planned to develop three main leisure zones for travelers on the shores of Lake Schyuchye, Borovoye, Big Chebachye, and Small Chebachye.
In 2019, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev resigned after 30 years in power and named Senator Speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as an interim President. In the subsequent elections, Tokayev ran as a candidate and won. However, the new president did not bring any reformations for Kazakhs as they still suffer the wrath of trafficking and underage prostitution. Moreover, the Kazakhstan government also refused to register Feminita, a group that focuses on the rights of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women.
Tourism is not an essential part of Kazakhstan’s economy. By 2014 tourism accounted for 0.3% of the country’s GDP. However, the government has planned to increase it to up to 3% in 2020. With an initiative named “Tourism Industry Development Plan,” the government is looking to establish five tourism clusters in Kazakhstan: Nur-Sultan city, Almaty city, East Kazakhstan, South Kazakhstan, and West Kazakhstan Oblasts.
In 2020, the Kazakhstan government has enforced its rules and regulations regarding prostitution and the human rights violations spurred by it. Those who provide premises for prostitution and pandering are liable to be fined and so would the mediators between prostitutes and clients. To prevent child trafficking, solicitors will be severely punished by the country’s Criminal Code with imprisonment of up to 5 years.
As per the rules and regulations, Kazakhstan remains committed to its roots. However, according to Human Rights Watch, the country has been particularly weak in alleviating its human rights violation practices by the miscreants as well as the government.