La Jonquera, is a border town between Catalonia and France where prostitution has become big business.
Men cross the border from France and gangs who traffic prostitutes take advantage of the creation of one of Europe’s largest brothels. With 101 rooms, the brothel is registered as a hotel, to get around the legalities, and the women who work there are charged €70 a night for room and board.
The town tried to ban prostitution from the streets and local police can fine the prostitute and her client €30,000 if they are caught and their details will be put onto a database.
Over the last 20 years, international organizations have taken advantage of Spain’s traditionally tolerant approach and have brought in hundreds of thousands of women from South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. They take away their passports, threaten them, and force them to work in brothels alongside main roads, or on the streets. Reliable figures are hard to come by, but it is estimated that between 200,000 and 400,000 women are working as prostitutes in Spain, most of them controlled by mafias.
Some town halls prefer to ‘tolerate’ street prostitution and simply remove it from the city centre, as is the case in Malaga where prostitutes operate on an industrial estate where there are numerous brothels near to the airport. It is the same with other towns and cities who prefer the attitude of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. However, Malaga’s move is causing concern amongst groups that work with prostitutes. They say that there are few votes to be won by trying to resolve prostitution and there is still a long way to go to bring forward any serious proposals to deal with it.