• Spain's news in English
 

Spain's first prostitute union formed in Ibiza

Published: 15 Jan 2014 16:45 GMT+01:00

Eleven women registered with local authorities as working members of the Sealeer Cooperative providing sexual services, said their spokeswoman, María Josí López.

"We are pioneers," she told AFP. "We are the first cooperative in Spain that can give legal cover to the girls."

The 11 active sex workers who registered in November are women in their 20s and 30s from Spain, Italy and "the East", she said, declining to elaborate.

The group is applying to register 40 more women as members.

A 42-year-old local housewife, López is not a sex worker herself but registered as a member of Sealeer to act as a voluntary representative for the women, who refuse to speak to reporters.

Like any workers' cooperative, Sealeer members declare their income and pay taxes, which entitles them to public healthcare, a pension and other benefits.

A parliamentary report on prostitution in 2007 said Spaniards spent €50 million ($68 million) a day on prostitutes, of which it estimated there were 400,000 working in the country — the latest such figures available.

In Ibiza, whose sweltering beaches draw millions of foreign tourists every year, "prostitution moves a huge amount of money in summer", in hostess bars and in private apartments, López said.

"Just as they regulate the hotels and restaurants to make sure all the workers are registered, they should also see that the girls are comfortable and legalized."

Prostitution is neither illegal nor regulated nationwide in Spain but the government in November unveiled a new civil security bill that would fine people for picking up prostitutes near schools.

Authorities in Barcelona have introduced fines for picking up prostitutes in the street and Madrid is planning to do the same.

The cooperative "is a way to give the women independence from the gangs of pimps, for women who choose to exercise this profession", said Gloria Poyatos, a former employment lawyer who advised the prostitutes in Ibiza.

"I think that something is changing. A debate in society is beginning on whether or not to regulate prostitution," said Poyatos, who is now a judge in the Canary Islands.

Prostitutes can register as workers in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands and in some cases claim social benefits.

Despite prostitution being tolerated in practice in Spain, the issue is divisive.

"In this case we are talking about a minority of prostitutes with supposed liberty, but in reality in most cases they do not have real freedom to choose," said Ignacio Arsuaga, the president of HazteOir, a conservative pressure group, in an email to news agency AFP.

"Regulating prostitution is harmful for victims who are exploited, for sexual slaves." 

Don't miss stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Two injured in Barcelona hotel shooting
The reception area of the Silken Ramblas hotel where the shooting is reported to have taken place. Photo: hoteles-silken.com

Two injured in Barcelona hotel shooting

UPDATED: Two people were injured in a shooting just off one of the busiest tourist streets in the Catalan capital on Tuesday afternoon. READ  

Venezuela leader brands Spanish PM a 'hitman'
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has been branded a 'hitman' by Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro. Photo: AFP.

Venezuela leader brands Spanish PM a 'hitman'

Spain lashed out Tuesday at Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro for what it called "insulting and unacceptable" comments in which he branded conservative Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy a "hitman". READ  

'Spaniards hunting lions in Africa are a disgrace'
A lion in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Photo: Bruce Monroe / Flickr

'Spaniards hunting lions in Africa are a disgrace'

The killing of Zimbabwe’s iconic lion Cecil for a fee of €50,000 ($55,000) initially thought to have been carried out by a Spanish hunter has shone the light on the strength of Spanish patronage of the big game hunting industry. READ  

British PM names Ana Botín economic advisor
Spanish chairwoman of Santander, Ana Botín, will sit on David Cameron's new economic advisory council. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

British PM names Ana Botín economic advisor

Spanish Santander chief Ana Botín will sit on David Cameron’s new economic advisory council, the only representative from a foreign company to do so, the British government has announced. READ  

Third time lucky family find $1m of Spanish gold
The sunken trove included coind minted for Spain's King Philip V. Photo: Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC

Third time lucky family find $1m of Spanish gold

A Florida family of treasurehunters have made their third discovery in three years, this time finding Spanish gold worth more than $1million from a 300-year-old wreck. READ  

Bishop bans transsexual from becoming godfather
Stock photo of a baby's christening. Photo: Vincent Kashat/Flickr

Bishop bans transsexual from becoming godfather

A Spanish bishop has forbidden a transsexual man from becoming godfather to his nephew arguing that he does not “live a life consistent with the faith”. READ  

The Local list
Eight of the most crazily cool hotels in Spain
Why not spice up your holiday and stay in one of Spain's most unusual hotels? Photo: cabanesalsarbres.com

Eight of the most crazily cool hotels in Spain

Fancy slumbering in a converted bullring or waking up in the treetops? Spain has its fair share of unusual holiday accommodation. READ  

Football
Barça fined over crowd boos and whistles at king
Barcelona has been fined €66,000 for the behaviour of its fans during last season's Cup final. Photo: Quique Garcia/AFP

Barça fined over crowd boos and whistles at king

Spanish authorities Monday moved to fine FC Barcelona €66,000 ($67,000) and Athletic Bilbao €18,000 over last season's Cup final where fans of the Catalan and Basque sides whistled Spain's King Felipe VI. READ  

My Spanish career
'Majority of expats treat Spain as a holiday camp'
Maura Hillen is councillor for tourism and international relations

'Majority of expats treat Spain as a holiday camp'

The Local talks to Maura Hillen, president of the AUAN property rights association and now local councillor in Albox, southern Spain who thinks expats need to get more politically engaged. READ  

Iconic Madrid cafe closes its doors after 128 years
Churros were just one of the specialities of Café Comercial, which is closing its doors. Photo: cafecomercial.es

Iconic Madrid cafe closes its doors after 128 years

One of the oldest and most iconic cafes in the Spanish capital, Café Comercial, has announced it is shutting down for good, shocking regulars who say it is truly the end of an era. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Spanish town gives pets equal rights as citizens
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
National
Night drone mystery at Spanish royal palace
National
Spanish town brings in compulsory siesta law
National
Hero cops save newborn baby dumped in trash
National
Top 10 Spanish treats to keep you cool in summer
Travel
What's on in Spain: July 2015
National
Catholic group calls for sex-segregated beaches
National
Spanish chef dumps Trump over racist slurs
National
Madrid mayor to rid city of dictator Franco
National
The survivor's guide to running with the bulls
National
The ten most repressive points of Spain's gag law
National
Spain celebrates ten years of gay marriage
Travel
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
National
Woof! The top ten dog-friendly beaches in Spain
National
Driver fined €80 for biting fingernails at the wheel
National
Castle for sale, one-time pad of mad queen, €15 million
National
And the most beautiful plaza in Spain is...?
Politics
Spanish mayor's rogue little toes go viral
Top that! Italy snatches pizza title from Spain
National
Diphtheria is 'Russian roulette with real bullets'
Politics
French PM takes flak for taking his kids on state jet to footy final
National
Spain's little 'prince' shamed for racist rant
National
Spain world's second best for work-life balance
Travel
Barcelona most bike-friendly city on the Med
National
British expat fury over EU referendum snub
Politics
Madrid goes mad for radical mayor Manuela
10 super Spanish drinks everyone should try
National
Are these Spain's ten most powerful women?
National
Horse deaths reveal dark side of Rocio pilgrimage
Travel
Six of the best gourmet burger joints in Madrid
Travel
The ten best places for foodies in Barcelona
Education
7 reasons for Spain's newfound love of English
Features
7 reasons why Spain's the best place on earth
National
The perks and quirks of having a baby in Spain
National
Iceland revokes order to 'kill Basques on sight'
National
Five reasons why it’s good to be gay in Spain
National
Job creation? The truth behind Spain's figures
National
Spain among ten best countries to be a mum
National
The ten greatest things about Spain (in the UK)
National
British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,203
jobs available