The history of prostitution and sex in Egypt is shrouded in mystery. It is estimated that up to 90% of the Egyptian women working in the brothels were not aware that they were engaged in a form of slavery. Egyptian law made no provisions for paying compensation to women who were raped or abducted. The only way the women could leave the brothel was to pay off the money they had been taken to buy their own freedom.
By the time the slave trade was abolished in 1832, prostitution in Egypt was already an established practice. However, it was not until the advent of the new Middle Eastern society that any legal action was taken against any form of sexual servitude. This is when the first laws were passed against sexual slavery. These laws were designed to protect the women and girls of Egypt from all forms of exploitation. Throughout the ages, the history of prostitution and sex in Egypt has evolved with societies. For example, ancient China developed a sophisticated and highly profitable system of slavery for women. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the very beginnings of capitalism in ancient India were built on the profits these women earned through their servitude to the wealthy.
In ancient Rome, both the sexes were legally enslaved to work in public places of work. The rich upper class always had several young women working at hand as concubines. They were subjected to all kinds of sexual harassment by the men of the higher echelons of society. The women who were willing to be prostitutes for the rich did so knowing that their lives would be spent in unimaginable poverty. Ancient Rome was not alone in the exploitation of women. As the history of prostitution and sex in Egypt documents, slavery was a common practice throughout the Mediterranean world. The term for a person who engaged in forced labor in Greece was slavery. The very elite group of people in ancient society were not only slave owners but also had a position of power and authority over the rest of society.
Slaves were typically taken from Africa, Asia, or Arabia and brought to Egypt. There they were treated like cattle and used for the cheapest labor available. The Egyptian pharaohs were particularly brutal to the women of their slave harems. The women were treated like sex objects. There is evidence to suggest that many women were killed as collateral to finance the extravagant lifestyles of the pharaohs. As the slave trade declined in Europe and the Mediterranean world, Egypt became an increasingly wealthy society. There was an influx of European women into the country who were looking for husbands. Slaves were no longer sold as sex objects but were respected as women who could contribute financially to the family. This led to the establishment of higher standards of clothing and material standards throughout Egypt. As the years passed, the position of women in society, both socially and economically, gradually increased and some even had the opportunity to hold higher positions in government or in the military.
Sex between free men and women was tolerated up until the nineteenth century when it was legally abolished in Egypt. The ban was imposed on the basis that it caused social and moral deterioration and encouraged the practice of adult sexual conduct. Any person found guilty of participating in the practice of prostitution can be fined or imprisoned. The practice of adult entertainment was however not totally abolished; instead the penalties for running an adult entertainment party were relaxed so that a person could still hold a place of entertainment if he or she did not engage in sexual acts.