Prostitution in Spain
- 1 Legal status
- 2 Politics
- 3 Migrant workers
- 4 Advocacy
- 5 Social history
- 6 Sex work in Spanish culture
- 7 Overseas autonomous communities
- 8 Sex trafficking
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Other sources
- 12 Legal
- 13 Notes
- 14 External links
The only article in the Code dealing specifically with adult prostitution is Artícle 188, which bans pimping:
1. El que determine, empleando violencia, intimidación o engaño, o abusando de una situación de superioridad o de necesidad o vulnerabilidad de la víctima, a persona mayor de edad a ejercer la prostitución o a mantenerse en ella, será castigado con las penas de prisión de dos a cuatro años y multa de 12 a 24 meses. En la misma pena incurrirá el que se lucre explotando la prostitución de otra persona, aun con el consentimiento de la misma''.[note 1]
Owning an establishment where prostitution takes place is in itself legal, but the owner cannot derive financial gain from the prostitute or hire a person to sell sex because prostitution is not considered a job and thus has no legal recognition.
Local governments differ in their approaches to both indoor and outdoor prostitution, usually in response to community pressure groups, and based on "public safety". Most places do not regulate prostitution, but the government of Catalonia offers licenses for persons "to gather people to practice prostitution". These licenses are used by brothel owners to open "clubs", where prostitution takes place (the women are theoretically only "gathered" to work on the premises not employed by the owner). Some places have implemented fines for street prostitution.
Prostitution was tolerated in Spain throughout the mediaeval period, until the 17th century and the reign of Phillip IV (1621–65) whose 1623 decree closed the mancebías (brothels) forcing the women out into the street, a very unpopular decision, but one that remained in place till the 19th century. In the reign of Isabel II (1843–1868) regulation was introduced, firstly in cities, the Disposiciones de Zaragoza (1845) and the Reglamento para la represión de los excesos de la prostitución en Madrid (1847), followed by the 1848 Penal Code. (Guerena 2003, 2008)
In 1935 during the Second Republic (1931–6) prostitution was prohibited. Once the Dictatorship (1939–75) was established, this law was repealed (1941). Spain became officially abolitionist on 18 June 1962, when the 1949 United Nations (UN) Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was ratified by Spain, and the Decree 168 of 24 January 1963 modified the Penal Code (Código Penal) according to the Convention. In theory, this policy, in accordance with the Convention, regarded sex workers (trabajadores sexuales) as victims of sexual exploitation and advocated punishment of their exploiters rather than the workers themselves, and refused to distinguish between voluntary and coerced sex work. However, there were inconsistencies, as the prostitutes were in fact treated more like criminals: under Act 16/1970 of 4 August on social menace and rehabilitation (Ley de peligrosidad y rehabilitación social) prostitutes were declared amongst those classes categorized as social evils, and could be confined to special centres or forbidden to live in specified areas. In practice however, prostitution was quietly ignored and tolerated.
Although democracy was restored in 1975, it was not till the Penal Code revisions of 1995 that this policy was revisited, and most laws regarding prostitution were repealed, with the exception of those governing minors and those with mental health problems. This included the Act 16/1970. Further revisions in 1999 addressed trafficking, as did the 2000 Immigration Act which followed other European precedents by offering asylum to trafficked victims if they collaborated (Valiente 2003).
Opinion remains deeply divided in Spain over prostitution, and law reform has been in a political impasse for a long time. Consequently, it remains in rather a grey zone of unregulated but tolerated semi-legality. The standard debates exist as to whether it is work like any other work, or exploitation of women as espoused by groups like Malostratos. Meanwhile, it thrives, and has prompted headlines such as El nuevo burdel de Europa (The New Brothel of Europe).
- Plan Municipal de Intervención ante la Prostitución en el municipio 2011-2014, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
According to a 2009 TAMPEP study, 90% of sex workers are migrants. Of all countries studied, only Italy had proportion of migrant workers at comparable level. About 80% of these were Latin American (mainly from Ecuador, Colombia and the Dominican Republic) However, the situation is changing rapidly owing to the arrival of Eastern European migrants (mainly Romania and Bulgaria) who now make up 25% compared to 50% from Latin America, under the context of Immigration to Spain. (There is also considerable cross-border traffic between Spain and Portugal and France. Equally, some 80% of Spanish national workers work outside Spain, mainly from economic necessity.)
As in other countries in Western Europe, there is concern over the presence of migrant workers on the streets and claims that many of them were coerced. In 2008 the Spanish Government announced plans to aid women who had been trafficked.
There are organisations working with migrant women, including Proyecto Esperanza and shelters such as IPSSE (Instituto para la Promoción de Servicios Especializados).
Organisations working with sex workers in Spain include APRAMP (Associacion para la Prevención, Reinserción y Atención de la Mujer Prostituida) while sex workers' rights organisations include Hetaira (Madrid), as well as regional organisations such as SICAR Asturias, AMTTTSE (Asociación de Mujeres, Transexuales y Travestis como Trabajadoras Sexuales en España, Málaga) and CATS (Comité de Apoyo a las Trabajadoras del Sexo, Murcia).
Spanish sex workers continue to be concerned about their lack of protection and in July 2011 petitioned the Minister of Health (Leire Pajín). A demonstration is planned for November 6, 2011 in Madrid, and a communique has been released setting out sex workers' complaints and demands.
Sex work in Spanish culture
Goya (1746–1828) frequently commented on the place of prostitution in Spanish high society such as satirising the church's involvement in the trade, for profit. Best known though are his controversial Majas. Other examples are Murillo's Four Figures on a Step and Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (illustrated).
Sex work celebrities in Spain
Overseas autonomous communities
In 2006, 42 people were arrested following the discover of a prostitution ring operating out of nightclubs in Las Palmas and Telde. The prostitutes were from South American countries, mainly Brazil. Five people were jailed as a result.
Local NGO Melilla Acoge, which provides medical and other assistance to prostitutes, report that there are about 1,000 Moroccan prostitutes in Melilla. Some cross over the border into Melilla in the mornings and leave at midday, other cross over the border in the afternoon and leave at night.
Spain is a destination, source, and transit country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Women from Eastern Europe (particularly Romania and Bulgaria), South America (particularly Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador), China, and Nigeria are subjected to sex trafficking in Spain. NGOs believe a large percentage of individuals in prostitution in Spain are trafficking victims. Spain has seen a rise in trafficking through the Western Mediterranean as traffickers shift routes from Libya to Morocco, where victims are moved by sea into southern Spain. Nigerian criminal networks recruit victims in migrant reception centers in Italy for forced prostitution in Spain. Unaccompanied migrant children continue to be vulnerable to sex trafficking. The increased numbers of newly arrived refugees and asylum-seekers are vulnerable to trafficking.
The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks Spain as a 'Tier 1' country.
- List of Spain-related topics
- State feminism
- Prostitution in Francoist Spain
- Prostitution in the Spanish Civil War
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1. Whosoever by using violence, intimidation or deception, or abuse of a position of superiority or of the vulnerability of the victim, causes an adult person to engage in prostitution or remain in it, is punished by a prison sentence of two to four years and a fine of 12 to 24 months (i.e. fine days set at rate depending on financial circumstances). The same penalty shall be incurred by one who profits from the prostitution of another person, even with the consent of that person.
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- See also Laura Oso, 2003, 2010
- Spain Targets Sex Traffickers With Aid to Prostitutes Bloomburg 19 December 2008
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- El País
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- Pide a la ministra Leire Pajín que escuche a las trabajadoras del sexo. Actuable July 2011
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- "He who causes a person of legal age to engage in prostitution or to remain in it, with the use of violence, intimidation or deception, or by abusing a position of superiority or dependency or the vulnerability of the victim, shall be punished with a prison sentence of two to four years and a fine from 12 to 24 months. Gaining profit from the prostitution of another shall incur the same penalty, even with the consent of that person".