Spanish Prime Minister promises to abolish prostitution – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

It was when Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchéz spoke to the audience at the end of his Socialist Party’s three-day congress in Valencia that he made the promise to abolish prostitution.

“I declare a commitment that I will carry out, we will make progress by abolishing prostitution, which enslaves women in our country,” Sanchez said.

The party’s election manifesto calls prostitution “one of the most cruel aspects of feminizing poverty and one of the worst forms of violence against women.”

According to the BBC, a 2009 survey shows that 1 in 3 Spanish men had paid for sex. However, another report published in 2009 suggested that the figure could be as high as 39 percent.

To say that prostitution is big business in Spain would be a gross understatement. The country has become known as Europe’s brothel, after a UN report from 2011 named Spain as the third largest capital for prostitution in the world, behind Thailand and Puerto Rico.

In 2019, Sanchez’s party announced a promise in the election manifesto to ban prostitution, in what was seen as a move to attract more female voters.

Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Decriminalized

Prostitution was decriminalized in Spain in 1995. According to the BBC, in 2016 the UN estimated that the country’s sex industry was worth 3.7 billion euros.

It is estimated that 300,000 women work as prostitutes in Spain.

In Spain, there are no penalties for those who offer sexual services of their own free will, as long as it does not take place in a public place.

Pimping, or acting as an intermediary between a sex worker and potential clients, on the other hand, is illegal.

Until 2010, the law did not even recognize human trafficking as a crime

According to The Guardian, the Spanish government estimates that up to 90 percent of women working in prostitution may be victims of human trafficking or under the control of a third party – such as a pimp – who earns them.

Between 2012 and 2016, security forces in Spain rescued 5,695 people from this type of human trafficking, but acknowledge that thousands of people are still under the control of criminals.

The reasons why Spain has become so big on prostitution are many, according to experts. But former prostitutes interviewed by The Guardian are clear in their speech.

– The biggest single factor is the culture and the country’s problematic attitudes towards women and sex. There is a great demand for prostitution here. And it has become so normalized that it is seen as another leisure activity, the women say.

Human trafficking

Also in 2019, Sanchez’s party promised to fight against prostitution. Then they promised to introduce a law that criminalized prostitution, but two years after the election, nothing has happened yet.

Supporters of Spain’s current system say it has provided great benefits to women working in the sex industry and made life safer for them.

In recent years, however, there has been increased concern that women are being drawn into the sex industry against their will. In 2017, Spanish police identified 13,000 women in an action against human trafficking, concluding that at least 80 percent of the women were exploited against their will by a third party.