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Spanish region set to ban prostitution saying women are victims

The government of Spain’s autonomous region of Valencia has proposed banning prostitution, saying it violates women’s basic human rights.

Valencia’s Ministry of Justice and Interior, led by socialist politician Gabriela Bravo, seeks to not only end prostitution in Valencia, but also hopes that the measures will spur the national government to act against it as well.

Minister Bravo declared that prostitution is “not a problem of public order but a violation of the human rights of women”, adding: “When the municipalities join, we will give a message to the [central government]: if at the municipal and regional level we change the laws to put an end to this shame, the State must also take a step forward”, newspaper El Mundo reports.

“We will continue to demand from the Spanish government a complete law for the abolition of prostitution, but [Valencian officials] let’s not sit idly by,” she added.

The Valencian proposal is based on ordinances approved in two municipalities in the region that have adopted a multi-tiered approach to prostitution.

The lowest level is the advertising of prostitution; the most serious is the demand for or negotiation of sexual services, and the most serious is if the sexual services take place within 200 meters of schools, parks, sporting events or in isolated areas.

Fines are used as punishment for offenses depending on the seriousness and range from 500 to 3,000 euros (£425/$520 to £2,551/$3,123) for clients of prostitutes. Prostitutes themselves are considered victims of gender violence.

“We will stop euphemisms and promote a comprehensive law that integrates them as victims [of] prostitution, trafficking or exploitation…they are entitled to benefits,” said Minister Bravo.

Part of the new legislation will also include funding for social and psychological care for victims of sex trafficking and will help women find new jobs and provide residential assistance.

According to El Mundosome 10–13,000 prostitutes operate in Valencia, with 164 brothels and over 52,000 internet advertisements for prostitution discovered.

While prostitution is legal in many countries in the European Union, such as Germany and Austria, others such as Sweden have long had laws banning the practice and have taken the same approach as the proposed Spanish law. by targeting those who purchase sexual services rather than the prostitutes themselves.

The so-called ‘Nordic model’ has been criticized by groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW), who say they want to see prostitution completely decriminalized, saying the Nordic model ‘actually has a devastating impact on people who sell services sex to earn a living. . Because its goal is to end sex work, it is more difficult for sex workers to find safe places to work, to organize, to work together, to support and protect each other, to defend their rights or even open a bank account for their business.

Proponents of the Nordic model, however, argue that there is evidence that legalizing and decriminalizing prostitution increases trafficking for sexual exploitation, and that there is clear evidence that targeting demand reduces misdeeds.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by e-mail at ctomlinson(at)

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