Spanish Sex Worker Lobby Group Begins to Organise

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Europe Regional Correspondent

Earlier this month, there was news from Spain’s Catalonia region that, prior to the municipal elections that will take place in late May and the regional elections in September, a new group had been established to lobby candidates on behalf of sex workers.

The Asamblea de Activistas Pro- derechos del Trabajo Sexual (Assembly of Pro-rights Sex Work Activists) of Catalonia, is made up of sex workers and allies. They had a meeting on April the 16th, during which the group worked on their objectives and fleshed out more details for their coming work.

Clarisa, a member of the Barcelona-based Genera - Associació en defensa dels drets de les dones (Association in Defence of Women’s Rights), one of the pro-rights organisations that participate in both the Prostitutas Indignadas (an anti-criminalisation collective that campaigns for the rights of street-based sex workers)and the new Assembly, gave us some more information about the new group and the outcomes of their meeting.

The Assembly is “a union between activists, independent sex workers, sex worker organisations and joint and allied organisations. A bit like the Prostitutas Indignadas collective, but in a wider group. Soon we will have a website.”

Clarisa says that it has taken a few months of meetings to develop common strategies based on: debating the public policies of criminalisation, rebuting the abolitionist discourse, and creating lobby groups in advance of the elections.

“First, we have been participating (not as the Assembly but some of the organisations that are part of it) in the definition of municipal programs for Barcelona.” One of their achievements, they say, is having had two of the parties present their proposals with pro-rights organisations of the Assembly. “Due to the huge criminalisation that exists with municipal public policies that persecute women engaged in prostitution in Barcelona, this point is very important.”

In 2006, Barcelona was the first city in the Spanish state to begin making municipal ordinances to fine both sex workers and their clients in the street, “these policies have unfortunately been exported to other municipalities within and outside Catalonia. We also have very strict rules for obtaining licenses to the private spaces of prostitution. In sum, while prostitution is not illegal is criminalised.”

[Note in our previous report we mistakenly said fines began in 2012]

The Assembly therefore demands and en to criminalisation, the right to work independently or collectively, and recognition of the difference between trafficking and sex work.

Image: (c) Clarissa from Asamblea de Activistas Pro- derechos del Trabajo Sexual