Around 150 sex workers demonstrated this afternoon (Saturday 15th Feb 2014) between Puerto del Sol and Gran Vía in Madrid, protesting against the criminalisation of prostitution and against the city government's Civil Space Ordnance and the Interior Ministry's proposed Law of Civil Safety.
Under the slogan, "No to persecution, bargaining space now!" the prostitutes marched back to c. Montera with no reported incidents. The meet had been called by Colectivo Hetaira and also called for "a space to work in peace, without disturbing and without being disturbed" in the city, according to Karolina Hernández, Hetaira speaker and sex worker.
The spokesperson condemned the new state and municipal regulations that damage prostitutes' working conditions. They also called for the Commission to meet with the organisation: "We'd like the local government to meet us, they talk about us a lot, all the world seems to know all about prostitution but very rarely do they talk to the people involved and one of those is us."
In reference to the local government campaign against sex workers' clients, Hernández says: "I work freely in the streets, I have decided to do this on my own terms. I and many companions have freely decided to do this work. When campaigns punish our clients, this also affects me. It's absurd to say that it's in my favour, it's completely the opposite, it worsens my working conditions and my ability to negotiate with the client."
For her part, Nereida Lakúlo, sex workers' representative makes the point: "we want the normalization of our work and to receive the same labour rights and treatment as any other job." This is why Hetaira condemn the "always more precarious" conditions imposed on those doing this under regulations that "blame prostitutes while favouring the interests of the bosses of the big clubs." Additionally they say that in these places they are forced to work without the a law protecting their rights because there's no recognition of prostitution as work.
Finally, Cristina Garaizabal, another Colectivo Hetaira spokesperson, insisted that the figures in the media asserting that 90-95% of sex workers are coerced into the profession are untrue. According to the Collective, "the UNODC report of June 2010, from stories told to the UN by public bodies, state security forces and social groups documented that 1 in 7 prostitutes in Europe had been victims of human trafficking for forced prostitution, a very important number when we're talking about this grave violation of human rights, but a very much lower figure than that repeated in the media and by some institutions that don't know the social reality of the phenomenon and don't give their source."