MEDICOS DEL Mundo, an organisation of doctors set up as a support network for sex workers throughout the world, has expressed grave concern for the health and welfare of female prostitutes in Alicante city, who are being increasingly controlled by Asian mafia groups.
The women’s situation has become an increasingly invisible problem, but that does not mean it has disappeared.
Police pressure and Town Hall directives adopted by many municipalities are shifting prostitution from the streets and squares to clandestine and private premises, where the activity is much more difficult to control.
Beatriz Beseler, advisor on Prostitution, Human Rights and Gender Issues for the Médicos del Mundo organization explained the problems facing support workers in the city: “There are women, mainly from Asia, whom we cannot get access to because they are in the hands of mafia”, she said.
In Alicante, the organisation only has regular contact with around 500 women, whom they believe, statistically represent a small percentage of the prostitutes working in the city.
Adding that, “Because in many cases it is a question of them using flats, in housing estates or residential buildings rather than streets and parks, so they go unnoticed, by police and support workers.”
The anonymity is worsened by the fact that a number of the women arrive in the country from South America, “and are in an illegal situation in Spain”
Many of the prostitutes are also of Romanian origin, “and although it is an EU country, and they do not need papers, they are in the hands of trafficking networks that absolutely control their lives” said Ms Beseler.
Additionally, in recent years Spain has become a destination for mafia gangs, “since we are the country in the European Union that makes more use of prostitutes than any other” said the advisor, and this becomes a problem that crosses all ages, financial situation and social classes.
“There are users of prostitutes of all ages, many of them underage, and with cultural levels of many kinds,” she explained.
Internet sex sites and social networks have also contributed to aggravate the situation, as many clandestine liaisons are arranged online.
To highlight the growing problem, Médicos del Mundo had, as RTN went to press, organised a round table workshop to “A look at prostitution in Alicante”.
Speakers include María Such, director general of the Valencian Institute of Women; Elisa Fernández, from the Centre for Information and Prevention of AIDS at the Ministry of Health; María Jesús Navarro, from the research group “Economy, Culture and Gender” at The University Miguel Hernández and Beatriz Beseler herself representing Medicos del Mundo.