This Wednesday, the Social Chamber of the National Court will analyze two lawsuits related to the OTRAS union of prostitutes, a group that the Ministry of Labor registered "by mistake" in the Official State Gazette last August. They are two demands that start from three organizations: the association for Human Rights L'Escola, which acts against the Ministry of Labor and another joint Commission of Investigation of Ill-Treatment of Women and Platform 8 of March in Seville, against the union . The Ministry of Labor has also sent a letter to the State Attorney General's Office so that it also challenges that registry, that this Monday defends in a manifesto more than 350 women, some of them relevant figures. They claim "that a pretended unanimity of feminism is not used as endorsement of any legal measure that could affect the material conditions of life of many people who work in this sector – in all its variants: prostitution, dancers, actresses, erotic telephone".
Feminist activists such as Justa Montero, Begoña Zabala or Yayo Herrero; the Councilor for Feminisms of Barcelona, Laura Pérez; Writers and journalists like Elena Poniatowska, Ángeles Mastreta or film director Isabel Coixet, among others, support the withdrawal of the lawsuit against the union.
The Minister of Labor, Magdalena Valerio, defined it in an eloquent way: "They have scored a goal for the squad." When the registration of the OTRAS union in the BOE came out in August, the ministry relieved the director of Labor, Concepción Pascual, who signed that order. The human rights organization L'Escola has sued the ministry and will request, among other testimonies, that of Concepción Pascual. His demand will be heard in the National Court on Wednesday, along with the joint Commission for the Investigation of Ill-Treatment of Women and Platform 8 of March in Seville, which is directed against the OTRAS union. "We ask for nullity because there has not been a prior legality control," says Nuria González, of L'Escola, who criticizes that "the government has not done anything" to remedy it. "Work has not acted with the diligence required by the issue," shares Charo Carracedo, of the Commission for the Investigation of Ill-Treatment of Women, which considers that "prostitution can not be a legalizable activity in any case."
In Spain, prostitution is a legal practice. The Government and a large part of the feminist groups support an abolitionist stance, that supposes not to consider in no case this activity like a work. The great example of this policy is that exercised by Sweden, which persecutes and fines customers and not women. Cities like Seville apply Municipal ordinances in which they consider prostitutes as victims of gender violence. The Executive of Pedro Sanchez promised his own legislation on trafficking and sexual exploitation whose content has not yet transcended.
For the signatories of the manifesto, "it is a mistake to equate the trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation not only with determined prostitution but with all the diversity of sexual works that are now legally exercised in this sector." The figures are one of the difficulties in dealing with the possible regulation of prostitution.
There are no official data on the total number of women engaged in prostitution or on the percentage of women victims of trafficking, although the National Police estimates that 80% of those who practice prostitution are victims of trafficking. According Reports of the European Parliament, the most conservative calculations speak of "one in seven" people, although they add that there are sources that number between 70% and 90% of prostitutes forced by criminal groups.
"Against trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation we do not tire of demanding (and here we are unanimous): effective measures, a sufficient supply of human and material resources and the formation of the bodies and bodies responsible for carrying them out," the signatories of the manifesto that claim that "in no case" the "free and autonomous organization of women's groups with the purpose of advancing basic social and labor rights" be impeded.
The signatories also request that women who practice prostitution "have a voice in this debate". And they add: "The secrecy only favors stigma and exploitation." They reject the idea that unionization favors pimps, which is "to ignore a basic principle of union law, that is, that the self-organization of workers serves to limit the power of the employers and especially those who pretend to take advantage and exploit others economically.