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Prostitution in Costa Rica is legal. Costa Rica 's legal system is based on Roman law rather than common law , and so for prostitution to be illegal it would have to be explicitly stated as such in a penal code, and it is not. Nevertheless, many of the activities surrounding it are illegal,  as the law forbids promoting or facilitating the prostitution of another, and therefore pimping , brothels , or prostitution rings are illegal.
The large growth in sex tourism prompted the Government of Costa Rica introduce a voluntary  registration scheme for prostitutes.
Sex trafficking ,  child prostitution  and HIV  are problems in the country. Sex tourism in Costa Rica can easily be attributed to the rapid growth of international tourism in the country , and the country is being promoted as a popular destination for sex tourism. Costa Rica first began the development of its tourism industry with the creation of the country's first private hotel, the Gran Hotel Costa Rica , in On June 16, , Law 91 was passed, creating the National Tourism Board, which operated until it was replaced by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo on August 9, Increasingly, Costa Rica is becoming reliant upon tourism as a source of income; the number of tourist arrivals in had more than doubled compared to the number of tourists a decade earlier.
In the early s, Interpol named Costa Rica the fastest-growing capital for sex tourism in Latin America. Street violence in Costa Rica is on the rise, and prostitutes are particularly at risk. Acts of violence committed towards prostitutes often go ignored. The issue of violence towards prostitutes is not an issue that goes unnoticed by policy-makers and physicians. Rather, many choose to disregard the plight of these women. Women seeking medical treatment or asylum are generally ignored and thought to be deserving of the violence they suffer.
Physicians and doctors who were interviewed openly admitted to disliking prostitutes, with one physician stating these women are "an embarrassment to the country". Police officials have expressed a dislike of prostitutes, and are, according to the accounts of some prostitutes, guilty of committing acts of violence, discrimination, and harassment towards prostitutes themselves. Examples of this include rape, false accusations, disinterest in complaints about abuse, and illegal detention.