Abolishing prostitution is one of the ideological objectives of the PSOE in the medium term. It has been reiterated by many of its spokespersons and it appears in their programs. Without creating an explicit law that criminalizes the provision of sexual services in exchange for money, the coalition government led by Pedro Sánchez is taking steps towards the abolition of what has traditionally been called "the oldest profession in the world". One such step is the ban on the advertising of prostitution .
All the media in the country picked up the news on May 25. The headline that could summarize it would be the following: "The Law of Only Yes is Yes will prohibit prostitution advertisements ."
The inclusion of a very last minute amendment in the text of the law in which there was talk of banning prostitution advertisements was only a partial surprise.
The two parties that make up the government coalition, PSOE and United We Can, had discussed in the preceding weeks as a result of the content of the Sexual Freedom Law . Converted into a personal objective of Minister Irene Montero , the bill had caused strong dissension within the government coalition.
The two visible heads of the two positions, that of the podemita minister Montero and that of the socialist Carmen Calvo, maintain distanced positions on how this issue should be dealt with.
These dissensions not only exist within the Executive. They also occur within the feminist movement. The vast majority of feminists opt for prohibition and abolitionism. Others, meanwhile, do so by regulation. In United We Can, for example, and in its confluences, the two positions coexist.
As for the Executive's position, to avoid the image damage that would have caused the Sexual Freedom Bill, a project with a markedly "social and feminist" character, to derail, the government partners agreed to deal with the problem of pimping , the premises in which carnal commerce is exercised and the penalization or not of its clients in a separate legislative initiative.
Finally, the Law of Only Yes is Yes was approved in the Congress of Deputies with 201 votes in favor, 140 against (those of the deputies of the Popular Party and Vox) and three abstentions of deputies belonging to the Mixed Group.
Ban on prostitution ads
Article 11 of the Organic Law of Guarantees of Sexual Freedom states that "advertising that uses gender stereotypes that promote or normalize sexual violence against women, girls, boys and adolescents, as well as those that involve promotion of prostitution in the terms established in Law 34/1998, of November 11, General Advertising".
To what extent will this wording effectively entail a modification of the General Advertising Law ? The answer does not seem clear. The promoters and defenders of these legal changes maintain that, when the law enters into force, the advertisements will be considered illegal:
- That promote the paid provision of sexual services.
- That they present women in a humiliating way "either using their body or parts of it directly and individually as a mere object unrelated to the product that is intended to be promoted, or their image associated with stereotyped behavior that contributes to generating sexist violence."
- That contribute to generate violence or discrimination in any of its manifestations against minors and that promote "stereotypes of a sexist, racist, aesthetic, homophobic, transphobic nature or for reasons of disability".
Will sugar dating also be included in this ban?
Prostitution in Spain and the General Advertising Law
The debate on whether or not to ban advertising on prostitution in Spain is not current. This issue was already discussed when, a decade ago, it was proposed (and succeeded) to ban contact advertisements in the written press. Some of the arguments used then both for and against the measure are repeated now.
The first of these has to do with the non-illegal nature of prostitution in Spain . And it is that in our country it is not illegal to provide paid sexual services as long as said provision is made freely and without any type of coercion.
Yes, it is illegal that of minors, that of disabled people, pimping and trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation.
Since there is no regulation for it, the provision of sexual services in exchange for financial remuneration can be practiced as long as there is no exploitation of the person who prostitutes or profit from third parties.
Despite these considerations, the Council of State, the supreme advisory body of the Government, endorsed in a report dated March 2011 the prohibition of sex advertisements and all those that, in the written press, were related to the provision of services. sexual.
On the one hand, the Council of State recognized the fact that the provision of sexual services in exchange for money was a "tolerated" activity. On the other, he considered that, in his opinion, it was "appropriate to prohibit or restrict its dissemination."
The aforementioned advisory body was also of the opinion that said prohibition pursued "a legitimate good" that would serve to prevent, repress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children .
The General Advertising Law, for its part, does not include any express prohibition of the advertising of prostitution . Nor does it include any type of special authorization for said authorization to occur. It must be a legal norm with the rank of law, therefore, the one that establishes it. And that is the mission that, apparently, the amendment introduced at the last minute in the Law of Only Yes is Yes must fulfill.
The first consequence was the closure of Pasion.com , or rather its transformation from ads for contacts to ads for flats, cars, game consoles... Slumi.com also closed its sex sections in exchange for money, leaving the massage section erotic (mainly in Barcelona and Madrid) and creating a website to find "compis". Now, is an erotic masseuse a prostitute or not? Is penetration necessary for it to be considered as such?
Criticism of the ban on the advertising of prostitution
The measures and laws that the Government is promoting to achieve the goal of abolishing prostitution are not being well received by all political parties nor, of course, by professionals in the sector.
The last of the steps taken in favor of the abolition has been the legislative proposal to expand the criminal type of the pimp , to pursue the so-called locative third party (legal figure that alludes to the profit of whoever provides a place in which the prostituted person carries out his or her sexual activity) and penalizing clients of escorts and prostitutes.
The alliance in this sense between the PSOE and the PP seems to make it irremediable that the aforementioned legislative proposal ends up becoming a law sooner or later. Other political formations such as Ciudadanos, ERC, Junts Per Catalunya or the Basque Nationalist Party have been inclined to promote policies move away from pure and simple abolitionism and pursue regulation.
One of the most common arguments used against the measures that pursue the abolition of prostitution is that these measures do not make the carnal trade disappear. The only thing that is achieved in most situations, emphasize the detractors of these measures, is that the conditions in which prostitutes exercise their trade worsen significantly.
Banning escort advertisements , for example, prevents independent adult women from choosing, in a completely autonomous, free and uncoerced way, to commercialize their bodies sexually. The question that many critics and critics of abolitionism ask themselves is: prohibiting it... is their sexual freedom being guaranteed?
The application in the United States of the SESTA and FOSTA laws, promoted a few years ago by the Trump Administration to criminally punish prostitution advertising websites , has not served, for example, to put an end to it. Nor has it been helpful in improving the working and living conditions of sex workers.
In the opinion of many of the defenders of the regulation of prostitution , before discussing the type of measures to be adopted and the policies to be developed , it is necessary to make it abundantly clear that human trafficking is one thing and the provision of paid sexual services is chosen in a free and conscious way, another.
And it is that in the same way that a woman has the right to be protected and defended by society in situations of exploitation or abuse, argue the defenders of the regulation, she should also have it to be able to trade with her body if that were her wish. Putting obstacles to that (and the prohibition of the advertising of prostitution would, without a doubt, be a great obstacle) implies violating their personal freedom.