Barcelona wants complete ban on street prostitution

Pressure groups argue tighter controls will increase the risks women face

A Barcelona town hall commission is proposing a complete ban on street prostitution after accepting a proposal by the minority Popular Party.

Current municipal rules approved in 2006 sanction soliciting clients in the street only under certain circumstances such as if it takes place within 200 meters of a school or if the sexual act itself occurs in a public street. Prostitutes who refuse to move on when told to do so by the police face fines of up to 750 euros, while the penalty for having sexual relations in the street is between 1,500 and 3,000 euros.

Under the proposed new rules, police will be authorized to fine prostitutes and clients on the spot without any prior warning to cease their activities.

The proposal was put forward despite the advice of the town hall’s security services that the current system of fines only leads to prostitutes negotiating with clients out of the public eye, which increases the risk that the women face.

Social organizations also argue that trying to impose a total ban on street prostitution will drive women into the hands of pimps and criminal groups. “The only thing they are trying to do is hide \[prostitutes\],” says lawyer Jaume Asens. “This is a sop to the gallery.”

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