Valencia’s new tool to fight sexual exploitation

Valencia has a new tool in its armour that it will use to fight what many describe as the 21st century slave trade, sexual exploitation by human traffickers.

Financially very lucrative falling only behind drug and arms trafficking, the trafficking of woman and girls affects more than three million people globally. Spain is one of the main culprits being in the top five for users of prostitutes, with around 39% of Spanish men having paid for sex according to the United Nations.

Unofficial figures put the number of trafficked woman in Spain at around 80 percent of the roughly 100,000 female sex workers in Spain. These woman are often ill-treated, forced to live in less than satisfactory conditions and have their movement restricted with passports etc. confiscated.

Bizarrely the prostitution trade is not regulated in Spain.

The new tool

The Generalitat Valenciana piloted a new care programme that commenced on October 15 and which has to date worked with 409 victims of sexual exploitation.

The programme offers a comprehensive care service that ranges from information to advice on social, health, training and employment matters, to the promotion of their autonomy so that they can return to an independent life in which they choose their own path.

The service also offers immediate accommodation to those that need it, enabling them to cut their reliance on their traffickers and exploiters. Similarly attention is given to the welfare of their sons, daughters or minors.

Searching for sexual exploitation victims

Finding those that have been exploited is a major part of the programme with mobile units carrying out regular checks in areas where prostitutes are known to operate. These units make the woman aware of the services available to them and what help is available to remove from the situations they find themselves in.

At the moment the team is limited to nine specialists in the fields of social work, social education, psychology, law and social integration. Given where the woman come from the team also has access to interpreters.

The victims

The team also allocates a survivor’s assistant, effectively a facilitator that can act as a go between. This the team say is important in forming a bond with the woman.

The ministry says: “We want to establish a climate of contact and closeness with these women and we believe that the fact that there are women in the teams who have experienced situations of exploitation, prostitution and trafficking can help professionals to have a closer view of the processes that the victims live and thus offer them better advice.“

The Alba program is also responsible for raising awareness and preventing the use of prostitution, working in coordination with the State Security Forces and Bodies, the Prosecutor’s Office or the Courts, in those cases in which they detect situations that may constitute crime.

The Ministry of Equality and Inclusive Policies has according to Levante-EMV expanded the inclusion income that is provided to these women raising it so that it is equal to the minimum inter-professional salary (SMI), an increase of 300 euros.

The objective, according to sources from the Ministry, is to facilitate “an independent and alternative life project that allows them to leave the situation of sexual exploitation in which they live and get away from the trafficking network.”

Sexual exploitation remains a problem throughout Spain that the authorities in Valencia are making an effort to deal with, however more resources and more funds are needed to make enough of an impact to bring the trade to an end.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]