Wednesday, July 6

The PSOE registers a reform of the Penal Code that contemplates prosecuting prostitution clients

After the marathon day that the Equality Commission hosted yesterday to save in extremis the law of ‘only yes is yes’, the PSOE has registered this Thursday an initiative with which it intends to bring to the Penal Code the content on prostitution that it incorporated in the amendment that focused the debate and that has once again shown the friction between the partners of the Government in terms of equality. The Socialists decided to withdraw it at the last minute given the evidence that the law would not come out if they kept it and they assured that they would register it in the form of a bill the next morning.

The party, which has committed itself in recent months to abolish prostitution, incorporates, in addition to what its amendment already contemplated, a novelty: the persecution of clients. “The people who resort” to prostitution “participate directly in the framework that sustains this serious violation of human rights” and “represent the condition of possibility for it to occur,” reads the text, which will still have to be debated in plenary.

Specifically, the proposal contemplates fines of between 12 and 24 months for those who “agree to practice acts of a sexual nature in exchange for money or another type of benefit of economic content” and a prison sentence of one to three years and a fine of 24 to 48 months in case the prostitute is a minor or is “in a situation of vulnerability”.

For the rest, the PSOE traces in its proposal to reform the Penal Code the amendment in relation to the two articles that unleashed the storm this Wednesday: the locative third party and non-coercive pimping. The first, a figure recovered from the Penal Code of 1973, repealed in 1995, punishes the owners of premises who “habitually” favor “the exploitation of the prostitution of another person” even if there is consent. This is how it was written in the law of ‘only yes is yes’ at first, when he left the Government, but the Socialists claimed to toughen it.

To do this, they propose to eliminate the condition that there is exploitation of the prostitution of others to persecute the owners of premises and that it is enough that they “promote, favor or facilitate” the exercise of it. And it contemplates a prison sentence of two to four years and a fine of 18 to 24 months for them. They propose the same with non-coercive pimping, a criminal type to prosecute those who profit from “exploiting” the prostitution of others, which was also incorporated into the sexual freedom law. Socialists also demand that the need for exploitation be eliminated.

Dissents in the Government and with partners

The parliamentary group has presented its proposal less than 24 hours after it declined in the Equality Commission. What happened during the debate on Wednesday revived the differences between the government’s partners over equality policies and evidenced the discomfort of the groups that supported the investiture with the PSOE.

Virtually everyone accused him of inflexibility at first for not moving from his position on prostitution during the several months that the negotiation lasted. The Socialists, for their part, defended that they were not the ones who were changing their vote: “We have always ensured that this law was going to come out. It has been other groups that have used the crossed vetoes”, justified the deputy secretary general, Adriana Lastra.

The opinion of the law, which will be voted on next week in the plenary session of Congress, was about to fail this Wednesday. And it is that the amendment proposed by the PSOE to toughen them did not like United We Can or the partners of the Government, who rejected them outright by ensuring that they could end up harming the women themselves. The possibility that the amendment would come out with the approval of the PP was on the table, but the refusal of Alberto Núñez Feijóo to support the opinion as a whole would make it decline.

In this scenario, the PSOE decided at the last minute to withdraw the amendment and thus ensure that the rule could go ahead. He finally collected the vote in favor of all the groups except the PP and Vox. And in addition, the articles related to prostitution that had caused so many dissents were eliminated from the text. Something that most of the parties demanded from the beginning through amendments presented by both Ciudadanos and ERC, JxCAT, Bildu, the CUP, PNV and En Comú Podem.

The discomfort among the socialists after what happened was palpable this Wednesday. “Either you are in favor or you are against prostitution, or you are in favor or you are against defending women who are being victims of sexual exploitation,” said Adriana Lastra, who directly pointed to United We Can for the internal discussion that hold on this matter.