17th August 2019
Sex worker protest
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Spanish court rules against sex workers union

Spain’s National Court has ruled against the creation of the first sex workers union that left the feminist Socialist (PSOE) government red in the face on discovering its own administration had approved it.

The court, which deals with major cases, announced Wednesday it had cancelled the statutes of the ‘Organisation of Sex Workers‘, which was registered by the labour ministry and published in the official gazette on 4 August.

It ruled that a union cannot defend members who carry out ‘activities that by nature don’t come with a valid work contract’.

Sex worker protest
A sex worker holds a placard reading “my body, my job, my rights are sacred” during a demonstration against the Spanish government’s controversial bid to curb abortion rights in central Madrid to mark International Women’s Day, on 8 March 2014. Spain’s National Court has now ruled against the creation of the first sex workers union that left the feminist Socialist government red in the face when it discovered it had been approved by its own administration. (Javier Soriano / AFP)

It added that giving the green light to such a union would equate to ‘admitting that pimping … is a legal activity’.

The OTRAS Union, which promises to defend the rights of people in the industry, had argued it doesn’t only represent prostitutes but also pornographic film actors or phone sex operators.

But the court said that not excluding prostitutes meant it was illegal.

Spain’s fiercely anti-prostitution Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had been left red in the face in August when news of the approval of the union emerged.

Sex work is tolerated in Spain – neither illegal nor regulated – but Sánchez came to power in June with a strongly feminist agenda promising to fight the exploitation of women.

The labour ministry had promptly launched proceedings to challenge the union’s existence in court.

Labour Minister Magdalena Valerio told reporters at the time she was shocked by the fact such a union had been approved by her ministry’s labour directorate general.

‘As a minister and member of a feminist government, I would never have given the OK for this to be published in the official state gazette,’ she said.

Valerio added this has been one of ‘the biggest’ upsets in her life.

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