Along with its Spanish members Feminicidio.net and the Comision para la Invistigacion de los Malos Tratos a Mujeres, the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution is increasing its efforts to push for the adoption of the Abolitionist model in the context of the debate on the Law of Sexual Freedom.
On the week of the 14th of March, CAP organized a 2nd Advocacy Tour in Spain, including the mobilization of a delegation of international experts, the co-organisation of a Parliamentarian event at the Congress, an intervention at the national radio and an official hearing of CAP Executive Director in the Equality Committee of the National Congress.
On the morning of 16 March, part of the CAP International delegation spoke on the Spanish national radio RTVE, the country’s main radio station. The delegation alerted to the very high danger for women refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine to be targeted by pimping networks, in particular in countries where prostitution is regulated, such as Germany.
On the 16th, CAP International co-organized with the International Abolitionist School and the Socialist Parliamentarian Group on Wednesday 16 a Parliamentarian event conference named “Neither sex, nor work: Abolition of Prostitution to protect the rights of all women workers!”.
The event featured several deputees of the socialist party, as well as an amazing panel of experts: activist, writer and survivor of prostitution Amelia Tiganus, unionist Sabine Reynosa, activist, writer and survivor of prostitution Rachel Moran, and Dr. in Psychology Ingeborg Kraus.
You can watch the replay here:
The inauguration of the event was carried out by Héctor Gómez (Spokesman of the Socialist Parliamentarian Group) and Andrea Fernández (PSOE’s Secretary General of Equality). “Sexual exploitation and prostitution are part of the same violence and domination structure with roots in the structural inequality between men and women”, stated Héctor Fernández, who announced the amendments presented by the socialist party to penalize all forms of pimping, including “Tercería Locativa”, and reasserted the “absolute commitment of the party with the abolition of prostitution”.
Introduced by Laura Berja, Socialist Group Equality spokesperson, the first part of the session was carried out by Amelia Tiganus (International Abolitionist School) and Sabine Reynosa (CGT France) on the concept of “sex work” as “an ultraliberal violation of the rights of all female workers”. Amelia Tiganus, activist, survivor and author of ‘La Revuelta de las Putas’, highlighted how prostitution is a matter of class and how society’s silence is the industry’s main ally: “Each time I say 60% of the women in prostitution in the wealthy Europe are Romanians, it breaks my heart, and we have to believe that what we are building now is a future for our daughters”. During her intervention, Sabine Reynosa reviewed the theoretical approach of considering prostitution “sex work” and argued against it: “To the law of the market we oppose the principles of inviolability and non-patrimoniality of the human body, which are the corollaries of the respect for the dignity of the person” and recalled that in France the Civil Code “establishes that the human body is inviolable, it is prohibited to make a monetary estimate and, with even more reason, to market it”.
The second part of the event, on the reality and consequences of prostitution, was introduced by Lidia Guinart, spokesperson for the State Pact against Gender-Based Violence of the Socialist Group. Lidia Guinart alluded to the women of Ukraine and recognized the situation of special vulnerability in which they find themselves: “in certain contexts associated with poverty and situations of manifest social, economic or even political vulnerability, the specter of trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls arises”.
Rachel Moran (SPACE International and author of ‘Paid For: my journey through prostitution’) narrated her experience in prostitution in Ireland and defended that what she saw during those years in her country was the same thing she has seen all over the world during these last years as an abolitionist activist. “We’re talking about poor girls, African-American girls, Eastern European women… what we see consistently is that it’s the most vulnerable and marginalized women who are being targeted by the sex trade”.
Finally, Dr. Ingerborg Kraus (psychologist, expert on psychotrauma), revealed the effects of the German model, which is “raising hell on earth” for women in Germany and welcomed potential Abolitionist measures in Spain, which would reinforce the abolitionist organizations in Germany to push for a change of the law, where “pimps and johns find their preferred model”. “We have two different models that were established almost at the same time, about 20 years ago, in Europe and we already know the results of each of the models. We no longer have to do any experiments in any country”, explained the psychologist.
The event was closed by Ms Susara Ros, Executive Secretary of the PSOE against Gender Violence, who also affirmed the determination of the PSOE to abolish prostitution.
The following day, CAP International Executive Director Jonathan Machler was invited by the Partido Popular to speak at the official expert hearings of the Equality Commission in the National Assembly (“comparecencias”), in order to express his views on the draft law of integral guarantee on sexual freedom.
CAP Exec. Director advocated for the inclusion of prostitution (and not only “trafficking”) as one of the forms of sexual violence that the law intends to fight, highlighting the intersectionality of the oppressions affecting women in prostitution:
“If prostitution is a “choice”, then it is a choice systematically made by women who are not given any choice. Whether it is obtained by physical coercion, or by socio-economic coercion, the sexual act obtained in the context of prostitution is always coerced. It is the complete opposite of sexual freedom. The repetition of sexual acts without physical desire, but experienced as a consequence of financial need, inequality or as an exploitation of vulnerability, constitutes in itself sexual violence”.
Jonathan Machler also criticized the dissociation between “forced” and “free” prostitution, present in the law:
“The dissociation – purely ideological, not based on any concrete reality – present in this draft bill, between “free” prostitution, which some want to call “sex work”, and “forced” prostitution, which would be called “exploitation”, is completely disconnected from reality. It is a gift to the pimps, who will just have to continue to pretend to have equal commercial relations, based on the services of renting, protecting, connecting, intermediating between “clients” and women in prostitution, who will be forced to present themselves as independent auto-entrepreneurs. Pimps are used to this, it is what happens absolutely everywhere where the myth of a free and independent prostitution is perpetuated, and where it is pretended to fight against trafficking. This law will not bother them at all.”
Finally, CAP Exec. Director recommended that the criteria of “exploitation of prostitution” should be replaced by a criteria of “situation of prostitution” regarding the 3 points mentioned in the law:
- the repression of pimping,
- the granting of rights to victims of sexual violence, by including victims of prostitution,
- the objective of prevention and awareness-raising policies, particularly for men.