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Paradise sex club, was the largest brothel in Europe when it opened in Jonquera, north-eastern Spain, in 2010. Photo: Raymond Roig/AFP
The decision was made last week after seven women and five men tested positive for coronavirus at a brothel in the town of Alcázar de San Juan.
The forced closures in the region, which hosts the highest number of brothels in Spain, came as Spain's equality minister, Irene Montero, wrote to the country's 17 regional governments on Thursday, asking them to find ways to shut down the hundreds of brothels that remain open for business.
In her letter, Montero said that “a potential increase of coronavirus positives would be difficult to track” at the brothels and could endanger the health and rights of women working there.
Prostitution was decriminalised in Spain in 1995, but pimping remains illegal. This means that while it is legal to own an establishment where prostitution takes place, the owner cannot employ prostitutes or otherwise derive financial gain from their work.
Most brothels operate with hotel or bar licenses, allowing some to remain open even as Spain's authorities have closed pubs and nightlife.
Most of the women who work in them are also immigrants and they are often victims of people traffickers- In her letter, Montero asked local authorities to “seek dignified alternatives” for them.
The United Left party in Castilla La Mancha, which has an abolitionist stance on prostitution, welcomed the decision.
“How many women forced into prostitution are being obliged to put their health at risk and how many of Castilla-La Mancha’s positive cases have been caused by whoremongers?” the party wrote on social media.
Many regions in Spain are already taking extra efforts to clamp down on the sex industry, with a brothel in Alicante closed at the end of last month after a worker tested positive for coronavirus.
Ximo Puig, President of the Valencian Government, which has also long wanted to outlaw prostitution, on Friday said he wanted to take actions that “go far beyond the pandemic”, and bring in legislative change to “put an end to prostitution,” because prostitution involves “slavery”.