During these past several weeks, the closure of the brothels or sex clubs as a way to control the contagion of COVID 19, appears to have revived the public debate, for the first time in a long time, about prostitution and the varying points of view it stirs up.
We at Fiet Gratia, have been working to fight human trafficking for 10 years, and especially human trafficking with the purpose of sexual exploitation, and we feel the obligation to give a more complete picture. The problem of prostitution does not end in “closing the brothels.” The issue is much more complex.
The situations we encounter as an organization greatly exceed what the majority of the population can even imagine. It is not only about sex clubs or brothels, but the mafia networks that oversee this business also operate in the street and in clandestine apartments.
It is within these apartments, one of the most complex components of these networks, where the largest percentage of prostitution is carried out at this time. These are places where a great fortune is amassed at the expense of the exploitation of women who are required to sublet rooms for 170€ per week. To this amount is added the expenses of food, electricity and water, in addition to the family obligations and debts that they may have. If they do not fulfill their obligations, they find themselves on the street, whatever their situation may be.
It does not appear that this reality enters into the concerns about the practice of prostitution that are being discussed today.
When you stop to think about the lives of the women with whom we have had contact, you realize that there is still so much more to do. There is a long road ahead to explore the need for understanding and empathy on behalf of our society. There is little knowledge and sensitivity to their situation.
It is necessary to become aware of what is behind it all, and the first thing that is forgotten is that there are women involved. (Women!)
No woman finds herself in prostitution because it is the dream of her life. The great majority do not even want to do it. When we stop to listen, we understand the principle motives behind a woman becoming immersed in this situation: the need for sustenance for her, and, in many cases, her family.
A high percentage of these women are foreigners, without education or economic resources. They have been deceived, believing that in Spain they would find a better quality of life. They have been motivated by false job offers and/or desperation. If we found ourselves in similar circumstances, any one of us could be walking in the shoes of that woman we have all judged and condemned at some point. The brothels are not the end of this reality.
What kind of future or alternative can we offer them? How can we ensure that they will have a better future and can face all of the situations that surround them? How can they trust someone that extends a helping hand to them if their trust has been betrayed in more ways than they can count?
These are questions they ask us, with tears in their eyes, frustrated, frightened, impotent, but even so, with a desire to live. Listening and learning their anxieties, we know that they want to find the light at the end of the tunnel, with hope.
There is no doubt that closing the places where these women are no more than merchandise is part of the fight, however, the true objective should be to offer them a true alternative.
Abolition requires more. How can we leave them without any resources, without any support to help them in time of need? We need to offer them a life change and a purpose.
Detection Team NGO Fiet Gratia