Under Morocco’s penal code, convicted prostitutes can face up to 10 years in prison.
The arrest operation took place on Sunday afternoon, May 31 in the Hay Hassani district in western Casablanca.
Security services launched an investigation after a massage parlor published an online advertisement, a statement from Morocco’s General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) said.
The investigation revealed that the massage parlor, hosted in a residential apartment, accommodated people for “debauchery practices,” the statement added.
Search operations carried out under the orders of the public prosecutor’s office led to the arrest of the apartment’s tenant who published the advertisement, as well as two young women suspected of being sex workers.
The search also led to the confiscation of materials and equipment used for the alleged crimes, DGSN continued.
Police officers placed the suspects in custody, pending further investigations, the statement concluded.
Under articles 497-500 of Morocco’s penal code, the punishment for practicing prostitution ranges from two to 10 years in prison, with a fine varying between MAD 5,000 ($512) and MAD 2 million ($204,645).
Meanwhile, articles 501-504 suggest a four- to 10-year prison sentence, along with a fine ranging from MAD 5,000 to MAD 2 million, for anyone who “owns, manages, exploits, or finances” a brothel.
The suspects could also receive an additional sentence ranging from one to three months in prison and a fine of MAD 300 ($30) to MAD 1,300 ($131) for violating the state of health emergency, as provided under Law 2.20.292.
While there are no recent official statistics about prostitution in Morocco, a survey the Ministry of Health conducted in four major Moroccan cities in 2011 revealed that over 19,000 women in the studied areas work as prostitutes.
The study, carried out in Rabat, Fez, Agadir, and Tangier, revealed that the majority of the women resorted to prostitution because of social or economic problems.
The report also revealed that between 62% and 73% of the prostitutes either divorced or lost their husbands before the age of 24, while 2% are married.
Meanwhile, UNAIDS, the UN-agency for the fight against HIV and AIDS, said that there were around 72,000 sex workers in Morocco as of 2018.