The government of the Spanish autonomous region of Valencia has proposed banning prostitution, claiming it violates the fundamental human rights of women.
Valencia’s Ministry of Justice and Interior, headed by socialist politician Gabriela Bravo, is seeking to put an end to prostitution not only in Valencia but is also hoping the measures pressure the national government to move against it as well.
Minister Bravo stated that prostitution is “not as a problem of public order but a violation of the human rights of women,” adding: “When the municipalities join we will be giving a message to the [central government]: if at the municipal and regional level we are changing laws to end this shame, the State must also take a step forward,” newspaper El Mundo reports.
“We will continue to demand from the Government of Spain a Comprehensive Law for the Abolition of Prostitution, but [Valencian officials] are not going to wait with our arms crossed,” she added.
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The Valencian proposal is based on ordinances approved in two municipalities in the region which enacted a tiered approach to prostitution.
The lowest tier is the advertisement of prostitution; the more serious is the requesting or negotiation of sexual services, and the most serious is if sexual services take place within 200 metres of schools, parks, sports events, or in isolated areas.
Fines are used as punishment for violations depending on the seriousness and range from 500 to 3,000 euros (£425/$520 to £2,551/$3,123) for clients of prostitutes. The prostitutes themselves are regarded as victims of gender violence.
“We are going to stop euphemisms and promote a comprehensive law that incorporates them as victims [of] prostitution, trafficking, or exploitation… they have the right to benefits,” Minister Bravo said.
Part of the new legislation will also include funding for social and psychological care for victims of sex trafficking and help women gain new employment and provide residential help.
According to El Mundo, some 10-13,000 prostitutes operate in Valencia, with 164 brothels and more than 52,000 internet advertisements for prostitution being discovered.
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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 gone down the same approach as the proposed Spanish law by targeting those who purchase sex rather than the prostitutes themselves.
The so-called “Nordic Model” has been criticised by groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW), who state they want to see prostitution completely decriminalised, claiming the Nordic Model “actually has a devastating impact on people who sell sex to earn a living. Because its goal is to end sex work, it makes it harder for sex workers to find safe places to work, unionise, work together and support and protect one another, advocate for their rights, or even open a bank account for their business.”
Supporters of the Nordic Model, however, argue that both legalisation and decriminalisation of prostitution is proven to increase trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and that there is clear evidence that targeting demand reduces harms.
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