Spain’s Socialist party government has vowed to ban prostitution if it is returned to power after the country’s general election later this month, in a bid to appeal to female voters.
The Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has this week published his party’s manifesto ahead of elections on April 28, including a promise to make prostitution illegal in a country where brothels are a common sight.
Currently only pimping is illegal in Spain, but the Socialist manifesto says measures will be passed to make buying sexual services a crime, as well as profiting from prostitution and advertising it.
“Prostitution, of which we have declared ourselves to be abolitionists, is one of the cruellest forms of the feminisation of poverty, as well as one of the worst forms of violence against women,” the manifesto reads.
Mr Sánchez’s government made history last June by appointing a female-majority cabinet.
Women’s rights have become a major election issue, with the far-Right Vox pushing an ‘anti-feminist’ platform.
In a televised debate on Tuesday, a candidate for the conservative opposition Popular Party criticised a Socialist promise to create a single offence of rape based on consent.
“Does silence mean no? Do you really say yes, yes, yes until the end?” asked Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo to a shocked reaction from the other debate guests.
“The women of this country have said clearly that only a yes means yes. And that has to become law,” countered Irene Montero of the Left-wing Podemos party.
Spanish law on sexual crimes has come in for criticism after five men known as the “wolf pack” were charged with sexual assault after raping an 18-year-old woman at the San Fermín bull-running festival.
On Wednesday a Spanish judge asked prosecutors to bring charges against the organiser of a group tour around the location of the incident.
“Amid alcohol and wild partying, five men with fashionable haircuts met a young woman in the central Plaza del Castillo. Just 20 minutes later they entered a doorway with her 300 metres away and sexually assaulted her. What happened in those 20 minutes?” the advert read, illustrated by a photograph of the five men from Seville.
The tour also included optional extras, such as the opportunity to buy the same t-shirts as those worn by the wolf pack members that day, and a transfer imitating a tattoo sported by one of the convicted men.