Wednesday 27 February 2013

Child Prostitution in Spain

Many young prostitutes owe money, either to banks to pay off a mortgage in the case of Spaniards, or to the mafia in the case of the foreigners.

Spanish newspaper ads are screaming out their presence. Sometimes they go as far as to specify the region the prostitutes are from: Catalan senoritas, Andalusian chicas and others.

According to Laura, the owner of a massage parlour in downtown Valencia, "each day there are more national girls offering their services". "Besides, right now clients are paying more for them," she adds.

It was the other way around years ago when the first sculptural foreigners arrived in Spain courtesy of international mafias. But now, even specialised websites stress whether an advertised girl was born in Spain.

Amaranta Foundation, a religious non-profit group that helps women caught up in prostitution and crime, confirms that there has been a rise in the number of Spanish-born prostitutes working in private apartments. In the case of telephone and internet contacts, sex takes place on the street or inside the client's car.

A study conducted by Carmen Meneses, of the Catholic university, Universidad Pontificia de Comillas in Madrid, shows that of all the prostitutes who were interviewed by researchers, the Spaniards had experimented with cocaine before resorting to prostitution, while the foreigners had not.

Alcohol and cocaine allow them to put up with an activity that they generally abhor, the study concludes."Consuming drugs can lead to unprotected sex with their clients and becoming the victims of attacks," reads the report. Added to all this is the fact that many young prostitutes owe money, either to banks to pay off a mortgage in the case of Spaniards, or to the mafia in the case of the foreigners. They have to share profits with pimps and club owners, and sometimes even pay for plastic surgery, an especially common occurrence in the medium- to high-end sector. One in four pays for sex. As for how many women are forced to sell their bodies in Spain, official government figures have placed the number at slightly higher than 100,000, while non-official estimates have often floated around 300,000. However, much higher numbers are also thrown around. Government experts speculate that business turnover is between around EUR 50 million a day. A study by researchers from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III health research centre places Spain as the developed country with the highest rate of prostitution; a country where one out of every four men has paid for sex.

Prostitution has been assimilated, and the modern roadside club has been the great provider. But even that model is drying up, it seems. "It appears to be changing," agrees Esperanza Casals, a sexologist and the director of the applied psychology group Espai. "Prostitution has been assimilated as a form of massive consumption for entertainment purposes that is separate from morals. And it happened through the use of these establishments as weekend resorts or for stag parties."

"In most cases they are teenage girls with dysfunctional social and family backgrounds. They have a varied history of abuse, a lack of culture and social skills, and no self-esteem." Casas says that they are "girls for whom it is very difficult to be part of the system and its demands, especially now with the economic crisis."

Even though 85 percent of prostitutes in Spain are foreign, Spanish girls now make up to 30 percent at apartment-based brothels, according to Amaranta. This trend is often linked to alcohol and cocaine use."It is becoming more common. Most Spanish girls are already hooked before becoming prostitutes, and when they start working they go completely under," says Laura, the owner of a massage parlour.

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