Press photographs of prostitutes plying their trade right out on the street have reignited a debate about the practice in Spain, where it has seen rapid growth over the past 15 years.
Traditionally perceived as relatively marginal, prostitution is increasingly seen as “normal,” with ever younger men preferring to pay for sex rather than taking the trouble of trying to pick up girls.
Prostitution is again making headlines after the daily newspaper El Pais published pictures of prostitutes and their clients having sex on the street at night in a Barcelona tourist neighborhood.
Barcelona had become increasingly lax in applying a 2006 municipal ordinance that stipulated fines of up to 750 euros (US$1,050) for sex workers or their clients, critics complain. The ordinance was aimed at eradicating such practices from central districts.
Associations representing local residents or the prostitutes themselves urged a legalization of the trade, describing it as the only way to guarantee prostitutes adequate working conditions.
The city, however, only deployed more police to chase the sex workers off the streets in the Raval neighborhood.
The debate revealed a problem affecting, not just Barcelona, but all of Spain, where — like in many other European countries — the authorities have been unable to choose between a Swedish-style ban and a Dutch-style legalization of prostitution.
The practice has thus been left in legal limbo, which makes it more difficult for police to pursue criminals trafficking in prostitutes, leaving thousands of women at the mercy of pimps coercing them into the trade.
The influx of immigrants has led to the growth of prostitution in Spain, where up to 300,000 women are estimated to be selling sex in flats, hostels, streets, parks or at around 2,500 “clubs” functioning as brothels.
One of the world’s most lucrative criminal trades moves an estimated 18 billion euros in Spain annually.
Around 90 percent of the sex workers are migrants from countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Nigeria, Romania or Russia.
There is abundant judicial evidence that many of the women have been lured to Spain with false promises and forced into prostitution with threats, beatings, rape and even outright torture.
“Sexual exploitation rings are very cruel, the roughest I have seen in my career,” police officer Carlos Igual said.
However, prostitution is not technically illegal, and police can only act in cases in which prostitutes report their pimps for coercion. That is something that the women, who may be in the country illegally and may not even speak Spanish, are often afraid of doing.
Yet prostitution has also not been clearly defined as a legal activity, preventing police from inspecting brothels to make sure that sex workers are adequately treated.
It is mainly on a local level that authorities have taken sporadic action such as information campaigns, closing premises or placing video cameras in neighborhoods to dissuade potential clients.
Nearly 30 percent of Spanish men admit to having bought sex, according to the National Statistics Institute and may downplay reports of violence or oppression.
“They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t like it,” a Madrid taxi driver commented.
The abundant offer of cheap women with a variety of exotic looks has made many young men regard prostitution as a normal leisure activity, with the average age of the clients dropping to around 30, El Pais quoted psychologists and other researchers as saying.
The growth of prostitution reflects “a culture of immediacy, the will to get casual sex fast and without effort,” the daily wrote.
Some experts see the increase of prostitution as a new form of oppression against women, but the issue is made more complicated by the fact that some prostitutes do enter the trade voluntarily.
“I could be cleaning stairs, but now I earn 2,500 euros a month,” one sex worker said in the southern town of El Ejido.
Choosing a full-fledged confrontation with the US due to the loss of a megacontract for submarines for Australia, France is making a risky bet and other nations are not rushing to its defense. After Australia renounced its deal for conventional submarines in favor of US nuclear-powered ones, France took the extraordinary step of pulling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations. Bertrand Badie, an international relations professor at the Sciences Po institute in Paris, said France had put itself in a position where it can only appear to be backing down or losing face once its ambassador returns to the US,
Could delivering COVID-19 immunity directly to the nose — the area of the body via which it is mostly transmitted — help conquer the pandemic? The WHO says clinical trials are under way to evaluate eight nasal spray vaccines that target COVID-19. The most advanced effort so far by China’s Xiamen University, the University of Hong Kong and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy has completed phase 2 trials. “When the virus infects someone, it usually gets in through the nose,” said researcher Nathalie Mielcarek, who is working with the Lille Pasteur Institute to develop a nasal spray vaccine against whooping cough. “The
FREE-FOR-ALL CONTEST: Taro Kono’s popular support means that he ‘probably has the edge, but if he has a lead, it’s a very vulnerable one,’ an Asia expert said The campaign to become Japan’s next prime minister began yesterday, with four candidates vying for leadership of the ruling party in an unusually close race. In televised speeches, the candidates set out their priorities, from boosting Japan’s digital prowess to addressing the falling birthrate. Among them are two women hoping to lead a nation that has never had a female prime minister, although both are considered long shots. The race follows Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s shock announcement that he would not run for head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Whoever the party picks in a Sept. 29 vote is to contest
PLANNING TO REOPEN: Amid 1,607 new COVID-19 cases, the country is making a shift away from lockdowns, acknowledging that outbreaks will happen Australia reported 1,607 new coronavirus cases yesterday as states and territories gradually shift from trying to eliminate outbreaks to living with the virus. Victoria, home to about a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, recorded 507 cases as Premier Daniel Andrews said a weeks-long lockdown will end once 70 percent of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated, whether or not there are new cases. Andrews said the state might reach that vaccination threshold around Oct. 26. About 43 percent of Victorians have been fully vaccinated, 46 percent nationwide. “We will do so cautiously, but make no mistake, we are opening this place