The stories of women who work in flats and clubs intersect in a demonstration against the abolitionist law, in which they claimed their “freedom”
At 50 years old, Rebeca has been prostituting herself for ten years in an apartment in Madrid. She has two daughters. In 2010 she and her husband closed their business, then sold the house, she says on Calle Ferraz in Madrid, in front of the PSOE headquarters, where she has gone to demonstrate against the abolitionist law that is progressing in Congress. She, along with other women behind masks, the majority and under orange umbrellas, ask for the paralysis of this legislative initiative of the Government. «Previously I thought that the whore was a whore because she did not want to clean. But they don’t just come to fuck us », says Rebeca, with gray hair, teas and the body of an aging mother figure. “They come to talk to us. There are married people, but also widowers and singles who couldn’t get laid even with Tinder.
This is how Rebeca describes her clients, who earns between 300 euros and zero in one day, is listed as self-employed “for tomorrow’s pension”, is married, attends all the 8M and abortion marches, lives for rent, has just bought a house to reform, and shares 50% of what he charges with the owner of the place where he provides his services, who also receives his calls and pays for his ads. While Rebeca is speaking, in the shadow of the doorway of one of Ferraz’s farms, a woman with two children enters, exclaiming: “Oh, how disgusting,” and the children pass by covering their ears.
The stories of those who cross paths in Madrid begin, like Rebeca’s, with financial need. They come in buses chartered by the owners of brothels, indicate a couple of attendees. From Bilbao, Barcelona, Cádiz, Cáceres, Seville, Alicante, according to one of the spokespersons for the recently created Platform of People Affected by Abolition, Susana Pastor. The organizers count 1,500 attendees, although from a bird’s eye view the figure could be slightly less than half that figure.
“We only have a few days, and we have spent many nights without sleeping or resting,” acknowledges Pastor, whose first intention was to read a manifesto in the Congress of Deputies but when they arrived they found out that they needed a permit. “We want politicians to listen to us. We are more than 150,000 who dedicate ourselves to prostitution. In addition to women, men and trans women engaged in prostitution, and who preferred the term “sex worker”, attendees identified themselves as cleaning staff, club staff, businessmen and even an advertisement photographer. .
You can hardly hear them speak, in the midst of the hubbub of the tamborada and the party music that accompanies them. They dance, drink water or beer, wave banners that say: “Neither in Sweden nor in France have we disappeared. They have hidden us”, “Respect my decision, I am free”, “I am the re-whore who gave birth to you”, “Regularization now”, “We are free to work and prostitution is my decision”, “That is not a flag, which is a job.”
A group of the youngest comes from Pipos, in Alicante, which advertises itself on Facebook as a “luxury hotel where clients can access rooms or suites with an internal bathroom” and that “chartered a bus with all expenses paid”, according to a source in the organization. One of them is Paola. “I am 25 years old and have four children. I am a worker in a whorehouse because of the need to feed them. No one decides for my body. With a normal salary I don’t support them. Not the best output but not the worst either. Now they want to take the whorehouses away from us. What do they want? Who sells drugs? A woman twice their age approaches. She says that she is a waitress and that she knows them. “They are very good, wonderful girls,” she describes them.
The drums are silent, the reading of the manifesto begins. Gentlemen of the PSOE, put yourself in our shoes. Visit us. We have nothing to hide. We share happiness.” The public bursts into applause with this phrase. “The abolition leaves us defenseless, fodder for the mafias, fodder for rapists. Let’s fight. Our strength is the shame that the State feels for us.
Behind the hubbub, Rebeca admits that she is very angry and gets excited: “I don’t want to be a masseur. I am a sex worker. Where do they want us to stay? In Country House? In a landfill? », She continues. “I do what I want with my body. I have my calls and my clients. I go, I work and I go home. They say they’re not after us. And they put my clients in jail?
During the protest, despite the heat, some hide behind masks from the Japanese Noh theater, others with those from the Venice carnival or with masks and sunglasses. But with a smiling face uncovered, Elire, “21 years old, Albanian”, is even opposed to the regularization with which most of the interviewees agree. She asks that “they leave us alone to do what we know how to do. No one cares about anything.”
After talking to several women in prostitution and asking them what they prefer to be called, they say that when they are called “whores” they become “empowered.” They prefer that term and that “they call us what they have called us all our lives” to other “euphemisms” that are more “pejorative”. Nor does the term “prostituted women” define them, they say, which defines “someone forced to have sex for money. No one prostitutes us.” Those who do “this job” are “prostitutes.” But they prefer, and this is how they refer to themselves, to be called “sex workers”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.