Q24N – Spain’s Prime Minister, the socialist Pedro Sánchez, promised this Sunday to “abolish” prostitution, arguing that it “enslaves” women.
At the end of a three-day congress of the Socialist Party in Valencia, Sánchez highlighted the policies introduced by his government that, in his opinion, have helped Spain “move forward”, among which he listed stricter laws against domestic violence and increased minimum wages.
Despite the fact that sexual exploitation and pimping are illegal in Spain, prostitution is not regulated by law. Those who offer paid sexual services of their own free will are not punished, as long as it is not done in public spaces, as the laws are focused on the fight against human trafficking.
Although it is not recognized as regular employment, there are a large number of brothels throughout the country. Many operate in hotels or other accommodation centers. One in three men in Spain has paid to have sex at least once in his life, according to a survey carried out in 2009 by the Center for Sociological Research (CIS).
However, another report published in 2009 suggested that the figure may be as high as 39% and a 2011 UN study cited Spain as the third biggest center for prostitution in the world, behind Thailand and Puerto Rico.
Prostitution was decriminalized in Spain in 1995 and in 2016 the UN estimated the country’s sex industry was worth US$4.2 billion dollars.
There is no punishment for those who offer paid sexual services of their own will, as long as it does not take place in public spaces. However, pimping or acting as a proxy between a sex worker and a potential client is illegal.
The industry has boomed since its decriminalization and it is commonly estimated that around 300,000 women work as prostitutes in Spain.
The Washington Post writes,” Prostitution is legal in many European countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Greece. Supporters of decriminalization say it brings huge benefits to the women working in the trade and makes life safer for them. But critics say countries that have legalized or decriminalized commercial sex often experience a surge in human trafficking, pimping and other related crimes.”
In the early 2000s, the majority of sex workers in Spain were migrants from poor European countries, Latin America and Africa.