Prostitution in Spain might soon be criminalised, as per what Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez pledged over the weekend. Speaking in Valencia at the close of the Socialist Party congress, Sánchez said the practice of prostitution “enslaves” women, as quoted in reports. The move was part of his party’s manifesto in 2019 and details on any plans to outlaw prostitution aren’t yet public.
Following its decriminalisation in 1995, the sex work industry in Spain has witnessed a massive boom, with United Nations reports valuing the industry at around $4.2 billion. Opponents of Sánchez have raised objections to the criminalisation of prostitution, citing the large employment opportunity it generates.
Sánchez’s manifesto, prior to his coming to power in 2018, stated prostitution was “one of the cruelest aspects of the feminisation of poverty and one of the worst forms of violence against women,” as quoted by The Washington Post.
Prostitution In Spain: What Will The Fate Of The Industry Be?
The Guardian in an article two years ago referred to Spain as the “brothel of Europe.” For a period in the last decade, Spain held position as one of the top three sex trade zones, as per a UN study from 2011. A rough estimate of women employed in the field is approximately 300,000 reports claim.
Simultaneously, concerns have consistently pointed out how prostitution has emboldened illegal trafficking. As per the BBC, raids by police in Spain in recent years show a majority of women identified were trafficked into the trade without their consent.
Advocacy group CATS, whose members comprise a majority of sex workers in Spain and which offers support to the community, have presented a manifesto arguing against the aboliton of prostitution. They have asked “that the dignity of prostitutes and their ability to decide, without coercion, what they want to do and how or with whom they want to establish trade agreements be recognised and respected.”