NSWP has published seven national case studies on how laws actually work on the streets, you can access the Malaysia case study below:

How Sex Work Laws are Implemented on the Ground and Their Impact on Sex Workers: Malaysia Case Study

Is selling sex criminalised?
Selling sex itself is legal although associated activities are criminalised, such as soliciting for the purposes of 'prostitution', which is criminalised under Article 372B of the Penal Code. There is also an offence against "prostitutes behaving in a disorderly or indecent manner in or near any public road or in any place of public resort" and other public order offences that can be used against sex workers in the Minor Offences Act 1955. There are also state level Sharia laws that apply to Muslim citizens, zina (adultery) and khalwat (being alone with someone of opposite sex who is not spouse or relative) - these can be used against sex workers and clients. There are also some state level Sharia laws that specifically criminalise 'prostitution'.
Is buying sex criminalised?
Sharia laws mentioned in previous section could apply to clients of sex workers. No specific laws against buying sex.
Is organising/managing criminalised?
The Penal Code criminalises brothel-keeping (s373), 'living on the earnings of prostitution' (s372A) and acting as an intermediary/manager(s372A). There are offences against disorderly conduct in hotels, boarding-houses etc. that could be used to criminalise third parties in the Minor Offences Act 1955.
What other laws are used disproportionately against sex workers?
Sharia laws - Zina and Khalwat (see above)
Is there mandatory HIV/STI testing?
Is there mandatory registration?
Is sex work recognised as work?
Is sex work decriminalised with limited regulation?
Sources/further reading
UNDP et al (2012) Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific: Laws, HIV and human rights in the context of sex work, available at… UNDP (2015) HIV and the Law in South-East Asia, available at… Sexual Rights Initiative Database, available at Malaysia Penal Code -… Laws relating to sex work and prostitution in Malaysia, Queer Lapis, available at
If you have something to add, please email