Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez revealed plan to criminalise prostitution in the country.
Speaking to supporters at the end of his Socialist Party’s three-day congress in Valencia, Sanchez said that the practice “enslaves” women.
“Out of this congress emerges a commitment I will implement. We will advance by abolishing prostitution, which enslaves women,” Sanchez said.
Prostitution was decriminalised in Spain in 1995, even though sexual exploitation and pimping remained illegal.
The UN in its 2011 report cited Spain as the world’s third-biggest capital of sex work. It came after Thailand and Puerto Rico. The UN estimated the country’s sex industry was worth £3.1bn.
A 2009 survey further found that up to 1 in 3 Spanish men had paid for sex.
However, another report published in 2009 suggested that the figure may be as high as 39%.
The prime minister’s cry for a ban on sex work rises from an escalating human trafficking issue caused by a legal vacuum.
In 2019, authorities reported at least 250 victims of sex trafficking.
Up to 90% of sex workers are under the control of organized crime networks in Spain, mostly trafficked from other countries.
In the 1980s, most sex workers were Spanish, but today a large number of women associated with the sex industry are immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe or Africa.