On Sunday, Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, promised to make prostitution illegal in the country.

Pedro Sanchez

Mr Sanchez claimed the practice “enslaves” women as he spoke to supporters at the end of his Socialist Party’s three-day summit in Valencia.

Spain decriminalized prostitution in 1995, and the United Nations estimated the country’s sex business to be worth €3.7 billion (£3.1 billion, $4.2 billion) in 2016.

According to a 2009 survey, up to one-third of Spanish males have paid for sex.

However, a 2009 investigation stated that the figure could be as high as 39%, and a 2011 UN research named Spain as the world’s third-largest prostitution hotspot, behind Thailand and Puerto Rico.

Prostitution is currently unregulated in Spain, and persons who provide paid sexual services of their own free will face no penalties as long as they do not do so in public places. Pimping or acting as a middleman between a sex worker and a potential customer, on the other hand, is unlawful.

Since its decriminalization, the industry has exploded, with an estimated 300,000 women working as prostitutes in Spain.

Mr Sanchez’s party pledged to abolish prostitution in its election manifesto in 2019, in what was regarded as a bid to woo more female votes.

Prostitution is “one of the cruelest manifestations of the feminisation of poverty and one of the harshest forms of abuse against women,” according to the manifesto.

However, no legislation has been introduced in the two years since the election.

Supporters of Spain’s present system argue that it has provided significant benefits to women working in the industry and made their lives safer.

However, in recent years, there has been a lot of concern about the possibility of women being trafficked into sex work. In anti-trafficking searches in 2017, Spanish police identified 13,000 women, claiming that at least 80% of them were being used against their will by a third party.

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