Thursday, July 7

The PSOE law on prostitution takes its first step with the support of the PP and the divided vote of United We Can

The PSOE has managed this Tuesday that Congress admits its proposal to toughen the persecution of pimping before a plenary session that has staged the disagreements that exist between the groups on how to deal with prostitution. The norm, which was registered by the Socialists after trying unsuccessfully to incorporate it into the law of ‘only yes is yes’, has gone ahead with 232 votes in favor, 38 against and 69 abstentions after reaping criticism from practically all groups, except the PP, which has been unwaveringly supportive. The rest have moved between abstention, vote against or support, but not without differences. This is the case of United We Can, which has voted in favor except for the seven representatives of En Comú Podem.

The debate that preceded the vote has highlighted the controversy raised by prostitution, to the point of shifting support and opening cracks in the usual parliamentary balances. The Catalan deputies of United We Can, who have ended up disassociating themselves from the confederal group by voting against taking it into consideration, have also been joined by ERC, the CUP and Ciudadanos. Others such as EH Bildu and PNV have finally decided to abstain, not because they share the content of the proposal, they have announced, but to facilitate a debate that they consider necessary. Vox, for its part, has also abstained.

What Congress has done this Tuesday is to agree to process the norm, which is a reform of the Penal Code to “prohibit pimping in all its forms.” The PSOE registered it on May 19, after being alone defending the introduction of these articles in the so-called ‘only yes is yes’ law, which was saved in extremis. In practice, the Socialists, who have promised to abolish prostitution, propose to toughen the punishment for non-coercive pimping, fine clients and introduce the figure of third-party locative to persecute the owners of the premises. All this without the need for exploitation of the prostitution of others and regardless of the consent of the prostitutes.

The opposition of the parliamentary partners

Although the rule deals with crimes related to pimping, this afternoon’s session has turned into a debate on how to deal with prostitution. Deep down, the dissent is due to how each group conceives it: for socialists, “it is incompatible with human dignity” and the “last residue of the slave system”, in the words of Adriana Lastra, for whom women who ” they decide out of necessity” to be prostitutes “they never decide freely”. This same speech is shared by the PP, but not by the other groups, which have harshly charged against the Socialists.

Thus, most have agreed to criticize the consequences that, they say, this hardening of pimping could have for women. The PNV deputy, Joseba Agirretxea, has lamented the “punitivist” perspective that he considers runs through the text and the “risk” that prostitutes “look more unprotected” due to the “criminalization of the activity.” The parliamentarian has not concealed his discomfort with the fact that the PSOE has brought the proposal “quickly and quickly” to Congress after what happened with the ‘only yes is yes’ law, something that he has described as a “tantrum”.

Like many other groups, the Basque formation has demanded a “comprehensive” approach to address the issue that is not reduced to a penal modification and has questioned the Government for not yet having approved the expected law against trafficking or not proposing a reform of the Immigration Law, usually pointed out as a focus that leads women in an irregular situation to prostitution. Bel Pozueta, from the PNV, has referred to the same thing, focusing on the “lack of alternative measures”. The law “does not contemplate social policy measures, training or reparation and economic protection so that workers who so wish can leave prostitution behind,” she assured. What the proposal does specify is that women will be able to have access to the rights of the Statute of the Victim of Crime and those contemplated by the Law of Sexual Freedom, which already includes them in its scope of application.

Other groups, such as JxCAT, have been against “eliminating prostitution spaces” through locative third parties due to the risk that “prostitutes will be sent underground and be more stigmatized”, Pilar Calvo has stated. Virtually all have called for a distinction between trafficking for sexual exploitation, sexual exploitation and prostitution; and some, like ERC, which will vote against, have described the norm as “lifelong punitive prohibitionism” and “no abolitionism” and have defended “consent when given in freedom” as an “autonomous decision of women” .

A common speech in the PP and the PSOE

The Socialists, for their part, have defended the initiative by appealing to the “convictions that the PSOE has defended for 143 years,” said Adriana Lastra, interrupted on several occasions by long applause from her group. “This is the moment, this is the time and this is our responsibility. Profiting from the prostitution of women has no place in a free society. Pimping is incompatible with democracy”, added the parliamentarian, who assured that her party “aspires to take a historic step” with this law as a “first step” towards the abolition of prostitution.

The discourse is common in the Popular Party, which has described prostitution as “a particularly serious form of violence against women” that “hides the cruelest features of inequality,” said the popular Marta González. “Through money, an exercise of subordination is legitimized. No woman exercises freely, does so coerced or conditioned by a situation of economic vulnerability”, said the deputy, who has compared prostitution to the sale of organs and has defended “the same ethical reasons” to oppose one and the other. other.

United We Can: Divided and Criticized

For several days United We Can, where different positions coexist on this issue, had advanced that it would support the taking into consideration of the norm and this has been announced by the deputy Sofía Castañón. However, the confederal group has given En Comú Podem freedom to vote against it, considering that the law deals with prostitution “with their backs to the women who practice it.” And neither does the rest of the party feel comfortable with the literal text presented by the Socialists, although it does celebrate that “it comes to join the Government’s agenda regarding the persecution of sexual exploitation.”

The Asturian deputy has claimed that the tightening of non-coercive pimping provided for by the initiative makes it necessary to “exploit” prostitution with the aim of “ensuring that we are protecting women” in such a way that “voluntary prostitution” is excluded. In addition, Castañón has positioned himself against the fines for clients contemplated in the text and has opted to discourage the demand for prostitution “with educational measures” and “in no way with others that may affect women”, has assured the before defending a “material abolitionism” away from “elevated and moral debates”, but focused “on the material conditions” of women.

The regulation of Citizens

Citizens have also spoken out against the admission of the initiative, which is the only party that has stated that it has a regulationist position on prostitution. “Why not regulate, guarantee rights to those who want to do it in a free and consented way and persecute trafficking and sexual exploitation?” Asked the deputy Sara Giménez, who has recognized that the orange formation is committed to a “regulation of prostitution” with which, he assures, “it will improve the protection of sex workers”.

In line with some other formations, Giménez has also assured that the reform of the Penal Code “is going to place a part of the sex workers in a situation of risk” because “they are not going to be able to rent a room” to work, so “We will be condemning them to do it in hidden places or in the submerged economy.” Lastra has responded, insisting that the proposition “what it seeks is to put an end to pimping in our country.” “It’s enough of intoxications interested, whoever says that [la ley] it goes against women, it lies”, he added.

The content of the law: how the crime of pimping changes

The initiative that the PSOE registered less than 24 hours after the angry debate that left out of the law of ‘only yes is yes’ its amendment reforms article 187 of the Penal Code with three objectives: pursue non-coercive pimping, fine clients of prostitution and introduce the locative third party. The latter is a figure recovered from the Penal Code of 1973 that provides for punishing the owners of premises where prostitution is practiced, even if there is consent. The Socialists demand prison sentences of two to four years and fines of 18 to 24 months, in addition to the possibility of closing the establishment.

And what about pimping? Currently, the Penal Code persecutes the so-called coercive pimping, which occurs when someone uses violence, intimidation or deception to determine another person to engage in prostitution. But, in addition, there is a way to persecute “whoever profits from exploiting the prostitution of another person” even with the consent of the same. In this case, it must be shown that two circumstances concur: the vulnerability of the victim or the imposition of “burdensome, disproportionate or abusive conditions”.

The socialist reform leaves the criminalization of coercive pimping the same, but modifies this last precept to prosecute whoever “for profit, favors, promotes or facilitates the prostitution of another person, even with the consent of the same”, that is, eliminates the need for there to be “exploitation of prostitution”.

The debate on these two articles in particular is not new and, in fact, they were the ones that delayed the process of the ‘only yes is yes’ law. The norm had already left the Government with the incorporation of both (non-coercive pimping and locative third party) after being agreed by the Ministries of Equality and Justice, but with a different wording: they demanded the “exploitation” of prostitution, although he understood by this “the use of a relationship of dependency or subordination” between the pimp or the owner of the premises and the prostitute.

The partners of the Government did not agree that this law was the framework to incorporate these articles and the different positions regarding prostitution led the PNV, Ciudadanos, Bildu, En Comú Podem, the CUP, ERC and JxCAT to register amendments to remove them. The Socialists, for their part, called for toughening them even more. Faced with the real risk that the norm would fall by the wayside, the groups negotiated for weeks and, according to Equality, the Ministry came to present “about twenty” alternative wordings in search of consensus, which was never achieved before the immovable position of the socialists.