Spain’s first sex workers lobby group set up in Catalonia

Apr 3, 2015
Legal
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Prostitutes, lawyers and advocates will lobby regional election candidates to recognise sex work as they would any other job, and so guarantee rights.

‘I am a woman. I am a citizen. I am not a criminal.’ Demonstration in Barcelona against 2012 laws banning prostitution in the city. Photograph: Pau Barrena/Demotix/Corbis

‘I am a woman. I am a citizen. I am not a criminal.’ Demonstration in Barcelona against 2012 laws banning prostitution in the city. Photograph: Pau Barrena/Demotix/Corbis

Sex workers in Catalonia have created Spain’s first formal lobby group for the profession, with the aim of encouraging candidates in the upcoming municipal and regional elections to back them in their push to regulate the sector.

“We are the most stigmatised and criminalised group of women in society,” said Montse Neira, as she and other sex workers launched the Assembly of Sex Work Pro-rights Activists of Catalonia. “From now on, nobody else is going to speak for us.” The lobby group includes sex workers as well as others who work closely with them, such as lawyers and advocates.

The presentation of the first lobby in Spain for sex workers. / JUAN BARBOSA

The presentation of the first lobby in Spain for sex workers. / JUAN BARBOSA

As Catalonia gears up for municipal elections in late May and regional elections in September, the group will focus on lobbying candidates to recognise sex work as they would any other job, guaranteeing prostitutes’ basic labour rights, said Paula Ezkerra. “The first thing we’re looking to do is to recuperate our dignity.”

Prostitution in Spain exists in a legal limbo; while not illegal, it is not regulated in any way. In 2012, authorities in Barcelona sought to crack down on prostitution, introducing fines for clients and sex workers working on the street.

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