Spain: Barcelona declares war on street prostitution

Customers face 3,000 euro fines, prostitutes, 750

17 August, 17:17

(ANSAmed) - Madrid, august 17 - Customers who are caught paying for sex on the streets of Barcelona will face fines of up to 3,000 euro after tougher laws prohibiting public prostitution came into being last night. The new sanctions, which represent a tightening up of a similar public order in place since 2006, give police increased power to clamp down on prostitution with fines of 1,000 euro for anyone caught in the act, increasing to 1,500 euro if an offence takes place within 200 metres of a school. A maximum 3,000 euro fine is applicable for anyone caught having sex with a prostitute in the street. Prostitutes now risk fines of between 100-300 euro for soliciting sex, increasing to 750 euro if the offence takes place near a school.

78% of the public said they were pleased by the tougher new sanctions, according to an online survey by local newspaper La Vanguardia. Along with the sanctions, Barcelona Council is offering prostitutes the chance to enrol in rehabilitation courses. 'We are protecting the group most at risk of exploitation' explained Francina Vila, Councillor for Womens and Social Rights in Barcelona. 'It sends a clear message about what we don't want to see happening in our streets.' But the Catalan Social Action group criticised the ruling for punishing the wrong people. 'It castigates prostitues, the weakest link in the chain, without overcoming the problem and combatting the issue at its roots,' Teresa Crespo, President of the Catalan Social agency is quoted as saying.

The new sanctions were approved with votes by 'Convergencia i Union' who are at the helm of the Council administration, and the Partido Popular. Socialist PSC movement, eco-communists ICV-EUIA and Barcelona Independence party Unitat, voted against the ruling. (ANSAmed).

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