Known as OTRAS (or “the Sex Workers’ Organisation”), the union was discretely set up in August 2018 but was closed three months later by order of the National Court following an appeal by the government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
But following an appeal, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of OTRAS, saying that its statutes, which had triggered the initial legal challenge, were “in line with the law” and that sex workers “have the fundamental right to freedom of association and the right to form a union”.
In its November 2018 ruling, the National Court had argued that allowing the union to exist amounted to “recognising the act of procurement as lawful”.
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Contacted by AFP, the union did not wish to comment.
When it was founded, OTRAS received the green light from the labour ministry and its statutes were publicly registered in the official gazette the day before the government went into a summer recess.
But three weeks later, the government — which portrays itself as “feminist and in favour of the abolition of prostitution” according to Sanchez’s Twitter feed at the time — started legal moves against it.
In Spain, prostitution is neither legal nor illegal but it is tolerated.
Although it is not recognised as employment, there is a large number of licensed brothels throughout the country.