The director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies and coordinator of the Observatory on Trafficking, mainly of women, girls and boys for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Prostitution has finally entered the political agenda of the central government. What do you expect to happen?
The sexual exploitation of women moves a lot of money. Likewise, the male prostitute habit is enormous and extends to all social classes, including political ones. This is undoubtedly a great problem that will slow down the achievements to end this social scourge, and all kinds of resistance are to be expected, but I am convinced that perseverance to show that the consumption of prostitution is incompatible with an egalitarian society, will win the departure.
The Consell also prepares a law in this regard …
This initiative arises as a result of the excellent work of the social part, which has developed a commendable work of information and pressure to the political class so that this law goes ahead. So the correct thing will be that the promised roadmap is followed, regardless of the times set for the central government law, and the Community dares to be a pioneer. It would certainly be a very clear gesture that you are taking it seriously.
How do you see this scourge?
The problem of prostitution lies in normalizing the male habit of consuming the bodies of women and girls, since this huge bias between strong demand and minimal voluntary supply has caused and will always cause the recruitment of poor and vulnerable women and girls for the sexual exploitation. As long as we continue to normalize and promote male demand, prostitution will continue to be the most bloody gender violence that we can face and we can never separate trafficking from prostitution.
How can you change the mentality of those who do not understand that women do not prostitute themselves because they want to, but because they are hostages, they are threatened through their families of origin after being deceived and that going to a brothel is synonymous with slavery?
Most hookers are not concerned with whether the woman is exercising voluntarily or not. They even prefer vulnerable women who do not resist their demands. As they define, “without limits.” The key is to change the mentality of non-consumer men so that they dare, once and for all, to challenge the whore of their environment, not participating in the fraternity that every whore seeks to justify themselves before their male counterparts. When the egalitarian man understands that his activism against prostitution is key to be an example to the new generations, then yes we will be able to accelerate the achievements to drastically reduce the demand.
You and your team launched an international congress on trafficking in 2018 that meant a before and after, at least in the UMH and in Elche. What do you think was achieved with that?
The congress brought together more than 400 people, a figure that increased in 2019, despite returning to the day format. This indicates that our work is becoming a benchmark capable of sensitizing a citizenry that is becoming aware of the reality of the prostitution system, and that increasingly demands more training to act responsibly and activist. Our team assumes the commitment to give continuity to this work. And of course we will continue to investigate and organize events.
What investigations are they conducting?
From December 2020 to 2022 we are in a cooperation project with the Fundación Origen-Colombia and the Attorney General of the Nation of Colombia, financed thanks to the agreement between the Consell and the International Relations Service of the UMH. In it we have comparative research objectives between Spain and Colombia on prostitution and trafficking, as well as the design of training. In addition, together with our colleagues from the UMH Social Psychology area, Carmen Terol and Maite Martín-Aragón, we continue to expand and publish studies on attitudes towards prostitution of different groups. We hope to obtain funding, requested in 2020 from both the Ministry and the Consell, which will allow us to expand the studies. With the NGO Asti de Alicante we have published and continue to collect data on the awareness workshops that are being given to adolescents. And, of course, there are the works on masculinities led by Dr. Anastasia Téllez.
How do you think the covid has affected this scourge? I say this because pimps continue to demand their “debts” even if there are no clients, and the sale of sex on the internet has also exploded …
The confinement and closure of roadside brothels has created situations of real despair for these women. Without going any further, in full confinement I intervened in a case of sexual exploitation of a girl who reported being clandestinely transferred to hidden brothels in rural areas, without having the option to refuse. Those who engage in prostitution freely and have had the resources to do so may have temporarily signed up to the sale of sex online. I have no data to confirm it, but the exploited have either been thrown into the street or have continued to prostitute them in more hidden places, because the demand has not stopped seeking to continue consuming. For this reason, the implementation of the recent law, in force since March 26, 2021, of urgent measures in terms of protection and assistance to victims of gender violence, in the context of confinement, is urgently needed, where, finally, It is considered the obligation to also attend to victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.