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Seville to follow Catalan lead with bid to regulate prostitution

Published on December 21, 2007

21 December 2007

MADRID – A new law due to be approved by Seville city council early next year will seek to clean the southern city’s streets of pimps and prostitutes in an initiative that has won widespread praise from residents’ associations.

The legislation, part of a municipal bylaw known officially as the Order for Coexistence and Security in Public Areas, will empower the police to impose fines of between EUR 750 and EUR 1,500 on people soliciting sex from prostitutes in public. The fine will be as much as EUR 3,000 if they receive sexual services in a public place. With the introduction of the rules, Seville will become the second city in Spain to regulate street prostitution after Barcelona approved similar measures last year.

"Many districts are suffering from this problem. It needs an urgent solution," Antonio Viruez, the president of the Confederation of Andalusian Residents Associations, said Thursday.

The law is due to be passed the first time the council meets next year, according to Seville Mayor Alfredo Sánchez Monteseirín, who noted Wednesday that city legislators are finalising the details of the legislation based on input from the parties affected.

The law comes after several years during which the number of prostitutes plying Seville’s streets has gradually increased to the point of causing major problems for residents in some districts.

"Our streets are filled with prostitutes and transvestites who cause a lot of trouble, including drug dealing and street fights. Sometimes it’s unbearable," complained Manuel Gil, a spokesman for the residents association of the Huerta del Pilar area of the city.

However, some residents fear that the law may push prostitutes and their clients into outlying suburbs not covered by the municipal legislation.

"It is a step in the right direction, but we hope that it doesn’t just transfer this problem from the urban area and move it to more dangerous areas," Viruez notes. "We need to get these women off the streets and find other work for them to make a living."

As in Barcelona, the first Spanish city to pass municipal legislation on prostitution, Seville authorities will target the clients rather than the prostitutes themselves. While people soliciting sex will face fines, police will be instructed to offer assistance to prostitutes and inform them of social welfare programs.

However, Seville City Hall has offered no indication that it plans to follow Barcelona’s lead in regulating prostitution behind closed doors. As of last year in the Catalan capital, brothels face specific rules over where they can be located and how they can operate, down to how many hours a day a prostitute is allowed to work.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL. 2007]

Subject: Spanish news