Prostitution, a “de facto legal” and normalized activity on the internet

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Valencia (EFE).- Machista, with a patriarchal attitude and a frequent consumer of pornography are some of the traits of the candidate for prostitution, an activity that in the last decade has undergone a profound digital transformation and which in Spain can be considered “de facto legal”, for the normalization of its presence on the Internet.

This was revealed in an interview with EFE Antonio Ariño, professor of sociology at the University of Valencia, who in his book “Prostitution in the Valencian Community” (Tirant Lo Blanch) offers a sociological look at this phenomenon. and analyzes the characteristic features of a “historic institution of very long duration” and largely supported by trafficked women.

Although the publication does not specifically refer to the recent law that only yes is yes, which considers advertising that promotes illegal prostitution, Ariño indicates that they are studying its impact on the decline or disappearance of some of the services offered by different platforms for across the Internet.

According to him, prostitution in Spain could be described as an “allegal” practice, but on the internet, where we see a “disinhibition of language” and an “advance in the objectification of bodies without the slightest self-control and self-regulation”. , it becomes a “normal and tolerated” phenomenon, which translates into a “practical legalization”.

Image from 2021 of a concentration of the collective of sex workers under the slogan “Nothing about whores without whores”. EFE/Rodrigo Jiménez

digital transformation

In the last ten years, according to Ariño, prostitution has undergone a profound transformation due to the generalization of smartphones and the ubiquity of Internet access, with new forms of organization around platforms that have made more mobile and dispersed but, above all, “more invisible and more normalized”.

“It has multiplied and grown exponentially on the Internet”, explains the sociology professor, who explains that in this migration there has been a significant reduction in street prostitution, a move to apartments -with greater dispersion in the city- and greater mobility of women.

Digital platforms make it possible to greatly develop digital marketing and, in addition, to generate new experiences, such as live streaming on the Internet (“webcamming”) or the creation of forums for candidates.

Analyzing websites and platforms allowed Ariño to map listings, apartments, clubs and agents throughout Spain and the services they offer, and verify the “commercial, macho and aggressive character on many occasions, which approaches prostitution and pornography”.

During the pandemic, he points out, there has been a “diversity of strategies” to circumvent controls and, although clubs have had to close, “or open intermittently”, the practice of prostitution in apartments n could not be controlled and “she remained in physical contact and without protection” against the coronavirus.

Prostitution, an activity "de facto legal" and standardized on the internet
Prostitution has undergone a transformation due to the widespread use of smartphones and the ubiquity of internet access. EFE/Sascha Steinbach

complainants of prostitution

Although the absolute figures of the number of prostitution seekers are not known, various surveys indicate that they could represent between 4 and 10% of men, between the ages of 20 and 55.

The majority are men who live alone and are separated or divorced; they have a “segregative and macho” vision of women; and frequently consume pornography.

Another of the data included in the study, and in which Ariño indicates that he would like to deepen because the sample size is small, is that of ideological orientation; In the case of politics, the majority of claimants are from the far left, and in the religious case, the highest values ​​of claiming occur among non-practicing believers.

Submissive and exploited women

Although there are also no absolute figures on women prostitutes, it is estimated that in the Valencian Community there could be between 10,000 and 13,000, mainly between 25 and 34 years old, significantly lower than that plaintiffs, and a significant number of victims It deals with countries such as Nigeria, Romania and Colombia.

Ariño points out that since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, they have observed via the Internet a “certain increase” of women in this country who prostitute themselves because, he affirms, “all situations of extreme necessity are exploited by unscrupulous people”.

Women in prostitution occupy menial and inferior positions, come from poor and vulnerable backgrounds and, when not trafficked, are often motivated by the need to earn an economic living. “It ranges from phenomena of a lower social level to luxury prostitution,” he adds.

Possible Solutions to Prostitution

Possible Solutions to Prostitution
Congress is dealing with a PSOE bill that aims to move towards the abolition of prostitution. EFE/Quique Fidalgo

For Ariño, “there are no magic formulas”. “There is none for just about any social phenomenon and even less for one like this, which is extraordinarily complex”, estimates this professor, who calls for both legislative reforms and police actions.
Congress is dealing with a PSOE bill that aims to move towards the abolition of prostitution by criminalizing all types of pimping and imposing fines on consumers.

In the Valencian Community, in addition to the municipal ordinances that already impose penalties, the Generalitat has proposed in this line a series of regulatory changes to penalize the demand for prostitution and anyone who benefits from it, and is working so that measures are taken to support female victims.

“If someone thinks that an abolitionist law solves it in the blink of an eye, let him go to France and see that in 2016 an abolitionist law was applied and that it was not abolished. If someone thinks it can be solved by legalizing it, they should go to Germany or Amsterdam and they will see that it is not,” explains Ariño.

“What alternative will be offered to these women from trafficking, without papers and forced to contract a debt?”, She wonders.

“We need to save them and free them from these mafias, provide them with housing and introduce them to a training process so that they can find work that they understand is decent and allow them to lead an independent life.”

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