Spain: Growing Number of Women Trafficked for Sex Tourism
Friday, April 13, 2012 10:45 AM

Due to Spain’s lax prostitution laws, and the growing sex tourism industry there has been an increase in trafficking in women.  Reliable data is difficult to obtain, but a 2010 report by the U.S. State Department said that 200,000 to 400,000 women were prostituted in Spain,  90 percent of whom were trafficked. Prostitution is legal though unregulated and advertisements for prostitution appear even in mainstream newspapers. Efforts by some politicians to outlaw prostitution have worried some women’s advocates who explain it would force prostitution underground potentially making it even more difficult to help trafficked women. At present, only pimping is illegal; thus, many brothels are set up more like hotels, to attract foreign tourists, primarily young men from the rest of Europe. Experts believe that the influx of young men is fueling the increase in the sex industry, and that Spain is becoming known as a destination for sex tourism.
Until 2010, the Spanish legal system did not differentiate between trafficking and illegal immigration, and Spanish authorities are just beginning to come to grips with the scope of the problem. The Spanish government prosecuted 202 trafficking suspects and convicted 80 in 2010, according to a State Department report. Deputy Inspector Xavier Cortés Camacho, the head of the regional anti-trafficking unit in Barcelona, explained that combating the problem is difficult because of the great variety in the size and sophistication of trafficking networks. However, traffickers rely on similar tactics to control the women including physical abuse or threats to harm or kill the women’s family members back home.
Compiled from: Daley, Suzanne. In Spain, Women Enslaved by a Boom in Brothel Tourism, The New York Times (6 April 2012). Daily Human Trafficking and Smuggling Report, Department of Homeland Security (9 April 2012).