Is Nuru Massage, B2B Massage and Prostitution illegal in Malaysia?

Is Nuru Massage, B2B Massage and Prostitution illegal in Malaysia?

The sex industry is widely seen as unethical, yet it continues to exist due to supply and demand. For some, becoming a sex worker is their means of livelihood, but how does the law view this industry?

Contrary to common assumptions, Malaysian criminal law does not directly consider prostitution as illegal. Therefore, according to the law, individuals engaging in sex work are not breaking the law (though this provision doesn’t apply to Muslims). For Muslims, Islamic law holds higher legal status than Malaysian law, and under Islamic criminal law Section 21, women engaging in prostitution are explicitly considered criminals.

While prostitution itself is not deemed a criminal offense under criminal law, several activities related to the industry are prohibited, including:

  • Profiting from the earnings of sex workers
  • Soliciting or persistently approaching individuals for prostitution
  • Exploiting and acting as a pimp for sex workers
  • Prostitution Law: As mentioned earlier, criminal law does not directly address prostitution itself, i.e., the exchange of sexual services for money between consenting adults in private. This legal ambiguity has led to confusion regarding the legality of prostitution in Malaysia.

However, it’s clear that Malaysian criminal law does stipulate certain criminal offenses related to prostitution, which can be seen in the chart below:

  • Relevant Law: Prohibited Acts: Who Can Be Punished: Penalty
    Section 372 of the Penal Code: Exploiting any person for prostitution purposes, including buying, selling, hiring, or exchanging individuals into the prostitution industry. Advertising sexual services in any form. If the advertisement targets the public, it is deemed illegal.
  • Pimps and organized gangs trafficking people and forcing them into prostitution.
  • This law applies to anyone within the organization, including onlookers outside illegal brothels or individuals scouting areas for police or clients. Up to 15 years imprisonment, whipping, or fine.
  • Section 372A of the Penal Code: Engaging in prostitution as a livelihood or trade, and knowingly receiving all or part of one’s income from others. Pimps, intermediaries, and gangs living off the proceeds of others’ prostitution.
  • Family members who know they rely on income from sex services provided by another family member to make ends meet. For example, a mother forcing her daughter into prostitution due to poverty. Up to 15 years imprisonment or fine.
  • Section 373 of the Penal Code: Keeping, managing, or assisting in managing a brothel. Includes owners, residents, or agents of brothels. Up to 15 years imprisonment or fine.
  • Section 366 of the Penal Code: Kidnapping a woman to force her into prostitution. Anyone kidnapping women to turn them into prostitutes. Maximum imprisonment of up to 10 years or fine.
  • Section 27(b) of the Juvenile Offenders Act 1955: Acting indecently by behaving in a manner that promotes sexual services in public places. Prostitutes offering sexual services in an indecent manner on the roadside. Fine not exceeding RM100 or imprisonment not exceeding one month.

What Happens When You’re Charged with Prostitution-Related Crimes?

According to reports from the Royal Malaysia Police, in 2022, 1,988 people were arrested for prostitution-related crimes, a decrease from 2,336 in 2021. If suspected of prostitution, individuals are arrested and taken to the police station. The incident is investigated, and if there is sufficient evidence, the individual is prosecuted and appears in court before a judge.

If the court finds the defendant guilty of the charges, they will be sentenced under the Penal Code and bear responsibility for the maximum penalties mentioned above.

Sex Trafficking and Prostitution: According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Malaysia has over 10,000 victims of sex trafficking. Victims of sex trafficking often endure abuse, rape, and drug control to enable exploiters to control and use them.

Prostitution in Malaysia vs. Singapore

Singapore allows legal prostitution with government-regulated brothels. These brothels permit commercial sex between men and women, while all other forms of prostitution are illegal.

If caught engaging in sex work in public (even in red-light districts), sex workers may face imprisonment of up to three months and/or fines, while individuals found to be operating illegal brothels or knowingly living off the earnings of others’ prostitution could face up to five years imprisonment and/or fines up to SGD 10,000.

In Singapore, the legal age of consent is 16. However, for commercial prostitution, it is illegal to have sex with girls under 18. If a person over 21 is found having sex with a 16-year-old, they cannot use the mistake as a defense. Persons over 21 cannot claim they mistakenly believed the girl was 18 or above.

Regardless of whether minors are involved or not, if adults are found responsible for minors participating in activities restricted to those over 18, such as being found in nightclubs or brothels, adults may face up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted of a crime, fines, or caning.



Although prostitution is banned in Malaysia, the industry thrives in certain areas, especially in urban centers. Some argue that criminalizing prostitution under the Penal Code only drives the industry underground, making it harder to regulate and protect the rights of sex workers. Others believe that legalizing prostitution would only further exploit vulnerable individuals, especially women and children.
This content is written and reviewed by lawyers but does not constitute legal advice. We always recommend seeking legal assistance before taking any legal action.

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