Spain’s prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has called on the mayor of Barcelona to clean up street prostitution in his city, where the famous Ramblas boulevard and other emblematic places have been targeted by ever-increasing numbers of prostitutes.
“I hope that the mayor of Barcelona acts,” Zapatero said after El País newspaper printed pictures of the city’s Boquería market being used for sex acts by prostitutes and their clients. “The things we have seen this week in the streets of Barcelona and which some media have shown have upset me considerably,” he said.
Barcelona’s mayor, Jordi Hereu, a fellow socialist, has finally pledged to do something about the problem and this weekend police were patrolling Las Ramblas.
Although Las Ramblas has always attracted prostitutes, they used to occupy a small area near the port. But in recent years African prostitutes have flocked Las Ramblas, which attracts 250,000 people a day and is one of Barcelona’s main draws. Neighbours and local newspapers have complained that sex is performed in the open in the area. On weekend nights Las Ramblas is awash with tourists, often including British stag parties.
Hereu has also called on central government, or the regional government of Barcelona, to explicitly ban street prostitution. Attempts to produce a law to regulate prostitution in Spain were shelved recently amid fierce debate about whether it should be legal and licensed, or illegal and pursued by the police.