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1. Living on Earnings of Prostitution

It is an offence contrary to section 137 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) to knowingly live wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution of another.

 

The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 10 years.

 

The essence of the offence is knowingly receiving money from the acts of prostitution or knowingly being supported by the prostitute from the proceeds of that prostitution. The offence is sometimes referred to simply as “living on” which aptly describes the parasitic nature of the offence. The word “person” in section 137 confirms that the offence may be committed by a man or by a woman. Simply receiving money from a prostitute, for example as payment for food or accommodation supplied, is insufficient for a conviction under section 137. The circumstances of the defendant’s relationship with the prostitute and the circumstances in which the payment was received from the prostitute must be considered. The prosecution must prove the defendant knew that he or she was living wholly or partly on the earnings of prostitution.

 

There are 3 distinct situations which the prosecution can rely upon when trying to prove an offence under section 137. These are:

 

  • proof that the defendant was living with the prostitute;
  • proof that the defendant was habitually in the prostitute’s company;
  • proof that the defendant exercised control, direction or influence over the prostitute’s movements in a way that showed he or she was aiding and abetting or compelling that prostitution.

In either or those circumstances the defendant is presumed to be knowingly living on the earnings of prostitution.

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