The PSOE law on prostitution takes its first step with the reluctance of the entire plenary except the PP

The PSOE will get this Tuesday that the Congress admits for processing his proposal to toughen the prosecution 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 unsuccessfully trying to incorporate it into the 'only yes is yes' law, has garnered some criticism from practically all groups, except the PP, which has been in favor without expressing any reproach. The rest will move between abstention, vote against or support, but not without differences. This is the case of United We Can, which will vote in favor except for the seven deputies of En Comú Podem.

The debate that preceded the vote has shown how prostitution moves support and has opened cracks in the usual parliamentary balance. Although not all the formations have advanced the meaning of their vote to take the proposal into consideration, the Catalan parliamentarians of United We Can have already announced that they will disassociate themselves from the confederal group and will vote against it. And they will also be joined by ERC, the CUP and Ciudadanos. EH Bildu and PNV, for their part, have announced that they will abstain, not because they share the content of the proposal, but to facilitate the debate.

The rule that Congress will process is a reform of the Penal Code aimed at "prohibiting pimping in all its forms." The PSOE registered it on May 19, after remaining alone defending the introduction of these articles in the so-called 'only yes is yes' law, who 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 with differences, almost all the groups have agreed on the criticism of the law: from the "punitivist" perspective that they assure the text covers to the "risk" that women "see themselves more unprotected" due to the "criminalization of activity”, has assured the PNV deputy Joseba Agirretxea, who has described as a “temper tantrum” that the PSOE has brought the proposal “quickly and running” to Congress after what happened with the law of 'only yes is yes'. Like many other groups, the Basque formation has demanded a "comprehensive" approach to address the issue that is not reduced to a modification of the Penal Code and has questioned the Government for not having yet approved the expected law against trafficking.

The deputy of the PNV, Bel Pozueta, has focused on the "lack of alternative measures", who has lamented that the proposal "only contains criminal reform and not measures of social, training or reparation policies and economic protection so that the workers who so wish can leave prostitution behind”. In addition to a reform of the Immigration Law, which all the partners of the Government have demanded as it is habitually pointed out as one of the factors that lead women to prostitution. Vox, for its part, has also referred to the lack of alternative measures, not without raising its usual discourse against migration and comparing prostitution with the right to abortion or euthanasia, three areas in which "prohibition does not work if we do not offer alternatives”, said María Ruiz.

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

Basically, the disagreements are due to how each group conceives prostitution: for the socialists, prostitution "is incompatible with human dignity" and the "last residue of the slave system", in the words of Adriana Lastra, for whom the women who “decide out of necessity” to be prostitutes “never decide freely”. “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 norm 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."

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 Justicebut with a different wording: they demanded the "exploitation" of prostitution, although this was understood as "taking advantage 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.

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