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European Prostitution Laws

The United States is not somewhere we are ever going to work. And Smooci notwithstanding, I do not see us going into the Far East, South America, Middle East or Eastern Europe. So, I will just discuss Europe. 

There are a number of subcategories within the legal frameworks. So though we are focusing on Barcelona escorts, it is worth looking a little wider.

  • Countries where prostitution and managing brothels and escorts is legal: Greece, Austria (since 2014, Belgium (informally), Germany (since 2002), Netherlands, Switzerland,  
  • Countries where prostitution is legal but managing a brothel or escorts is illegal: United Kingdom, Denmark (since 1999), Italy, Portugal, Luxemburg, Monaco,  
  • Countries where prostitution is legal but customers are prosecuted: Ireland (since 2017), France (disastrously since 2016),  
  • Countries where all sex work is illegal: Gibraltar(!) 

Spain, as you would expect, is a complicated anomaly. Prostitution itself is legal in Spain, but pimping is not. Owning an establishment where prostitution takes place is legal if the owner neither derives financial gain from prostitution nor hires any person for the purposes of selling sex, because prostitution is not considered a job, and has no legal recognition (though income from prostitution is, of course, taxable) Most regions do not regulate prostitution, but the government of Catalonia offers licenses for persons “to gather people to practice prostitution”.

Strictly speaking, we should make it clear that we charge a commission for advertising and answering the telephone. Not for prostitution. 

On the face of the above, the law is changing in opposite directions in Europe over roughly the same timescale.  

Germany and Austria effectively legalised the sex industry (not the same as or good as decriminalisation) in 2002 and 2014 respectively.  Denmark decriminalised prostitution (but not brothel keeping or managing escorts) in 1999. 

France and Ireland introduced laws criminalising the buyers of sex in 2016 and 2017, following Sweden and Norway, who did the same 1999 and 2008. In the cases of France and Ireland, it immediately led to problems (lower prices, increased violence against sex workers, lower condom use) and sex workers have suffered. Sex workers continue to protest against the laws and academics repeat their findings, but we have seen that politicians will never let facts get in the way of their narrative. Especially not in ostensibly Roman Catholic countries.  

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Why Does The Women’s Movement Hate Some Women?

It has to be said that the wider women’s movement still excludes sex workers and even actively campaigns against them. Always in the fictional framework of fighting trafficking. Which, as we know, really is not the issue that people make it out to be. Horrific when it happens, but just not that common.

Society will have to find ways of changing their attitudes and legal approaches to the broader sex industry. But logic is unlikely to have any place in the conversation. Politicians do not act on fact. Except in Switzerland, where Geneva escorts work in a safe legal environment. They act on what they perceive to be the public’s opinion; which is demonstrated by who shouts loudest and threatens their re-election or promotion chances. A single example will demonstrate the point.

A loophole made sex work, practiced behind closed doors, legal in the State of Rhode Island between 2003 and 2009.Baylor University economist Scott Cunningham and his colleagues found that during those years the sex trade grew. But Cunningham points to some other important findings: During that time period the number of rapes reported to police in the state declined by over a third. And gonorrhea among all women declined by 39 percent. Of course, changes in prostitution laws might not be the only cause, but Cunningham says, “the trade-off is if you make it safer to some degree, you grow the industry.”

Rhode Island made sex work illegal again in 2009, in part under pressure from some anti-trafficking advocates. That’s the thing; the debate about sex work always gets linked to trafficking, and always with no facts or facts made up on the spot from a sample of one. Facts will not sell society or politicians. And politicians will not move ahead of society. 

But society is moving rapidly toward the acceptance of prostitution and sex work. This can be seen easily in the volume of big budget and high profile television programmes and films centring on or featuring sex work; The Girlfriend Experience (film and TV), The Client List, The Deuce, Hung, Harlots, Secret Diary Of A London Call Girl, Game Of Thrones, Tipping The Velvet, Cathouse, West World, After Porn Ends, Hot Girls Wanted and Hustlers. 

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The Sex Industry In Europe

Mainland Europe has been viewed as progressively liberal in its perspectives toward the most seasoned calling. Also, truly that has been valid. The women of the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere, and the streetwalkers in Montmartre and on the Champs Elysee are set up French social symbols and have been deified from Toulouse Lautrec through Picasso and forward.

The Netherlands has the house of ill-repute windows in the De Wallen shady area of town of Amsterdam where anything has been practically allowed as long as the ladies were regarded and safe. And in a far more hidden way, the mature London escorts of Classic Courtesans ply their trade.

Germany and Switzerland, regardless of their Calvinist and Catholic roots, have both legitimized houses of ill-repute and prostitution since a long time before Germany turned into an assembled nation in the eighteenth century. In the nineteen twenties (the period of the film Cabaret) prostitution was completely acknowledged and upheld as a social decent. Houses of ill-repute and clubs were regularly one and the equivalent. The main time Germany prohibited prostitution was during the Nazi time. The ace race needed to attack France and Holland to discover monetarily secured sex.

The late nineteenth century saw a nadir for the sex business, yet that has changed over the most recent twenty years. The accessibility – universality – of pornography, has made it standard and even popular. There was a rush of “hooker chic” during the disco time, however this is an a lot more prominent and likely irreversible marvel. We have moved from VIPs engaging in sexual relations tapes discharged and getting to be more extravagant and increasingly well known (Pamela Anderson) to individuals getting to be big names since they discharged a sex tape (Kim Kardashian) and now individuals are transferring their home recordings as a “side hustle” to make a couple of quid on the off chance that it gets enough perspectives on YouPorn.

It is a prosaism to discuss the hyper sexualisation of society and the media. Be that as it may, that doesn’t imply that it isn’t valid. Sex is prominent all over the place and in pretty much every specific circumstance. This makes one flood of weight for change in the public arena.

More weight for change originates from ladies properly guaranteeing responsibility for bodies, their unrestrained choice to self-assurance and their sexuality. Ladies from each heading of the socio-world of politics are seeing sex fill in as a litmus trial of ladies’ entitlement to pick what befalls them and survey their opportunity inside society. At the point when Amnesty International backers for the decriminalization of all sex fill in as a right to speak freely issue and to battle sex dealing, there is something changing on the planet.

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Decriminalising sex work

Amnesty International and The Economist are very different organisations, but they have reached similar conclusions on policies regarding sex markets. Last August, the International Council of Amnesty International decided to back the complete decriminalisation of prostitution. Decriminalising prostitution, they reasoned, would better protect the human rights of sex workers, and be better for the health and safety of all involved. The Amnesty’s International Council took care to declare opposition to criminalising sex work for both clients and for sex workers. Criminalisation both on the demand side (clients) and the supply side (sex workers) implies pushing this ‘market’ into the hidden economy, increasing the risks that sex workers face.

Perhaps less predictably, The Economist, in a report on paid sex in 2014, also argued for a complete liberalisation of the market and against criminalisation policies. Robert Skidelsky, a prominent Keynesian economist and member of the House of Lords, recently joined the cause. In the interest of protecting the health and safety of sex workers, he advocated against criminalisation and in favour of regulation of the market.

At the same time, a number of prominent actors and organisations continue to advocate the so-called ‘Swedish approach’. Since its adoption in Norway and Iceland, this is more accurately called the ‘Nordic approach’, and is enshrined in the Kvinnofrid (violence against women) act of 1999, which condemns the industry as a locus of female oppression, and aims to combat the oppression of sex workers by criminalising sex workers’ clients. The Swedish government has promoted the approach domestically and abroad, through public education and conferences, fact sheets and intense lobbying at the EU and the UN.

As economists, we believe that public policy ought to be based on relative welfare considerations. In other words, under which arrangements are the actors, and the public, better off? Throughout our research on the economics of sex work, we have asked ourselves a set of basic questions around the welfare of those involved. What do we know about the agents, the prostitutes, the pimps, the clients and others? What types of people are they in terms of their sociodemographic characteristics, behaviours and motivations? Surveys and studies provided the data. How do they compare with the population as a whole? Importantly, as economists, we were particularly interested in the various institutional arrangements – streets, brothels, parlours, apartments – in which different actors might act, and how these respond to different regulatory arrangements. Regulation, after all, is not one thing, but rather exists on a wide spectrum, with different modes and degrees of criminalisation, decriminalisation and legalisation.

We have spent 15 years researching these questions using data from US and UK clients and an international sample of sex workers from eastern European and former Soviet Union countries, as well as from Africa, Latin America, China and South East Asian countries. We have worked with many collaborators and subjected our work to extensive peer review and professional criticism in papers, conferences and books. Here’s what we can tell you.

Sex workers, or prostitutes, are not just women. They are also men and transgender people. They face risks to their health, risks of violent assault, and risk of fraud (not getting paid for their services). In every case, these risks are higher where prostitution is criminalised, partly because criminalisation makes collaboration with both medical personnel and law enforcement more difficult. Criminalisation of sex work also makes the detection of under-age or trafficked people more difficult.

Perhaps surprisingly, our research on sexually exploited trafficked women shows that women who work in the streets are in some ways better off than sex workers in parlours, clubs or hotels. Street workers enjoy more freedom of movement, suffer less physical and sexual abuse, and are more likely to have access to health services than women who work in parlours, clubs or hotels. These market dynamics of sex work apply to women trafficked into sex work, too. For both clients and for sex workers, demand-side and supply-side, criminalisation pushes the market into secluded and, for the workers, isolating places. Flats, clubs and massage parlours are more separate from the rest of society. The welfare of sexually trafficked women decreases in these dangerous environments.

Sex workers’ clients are mostly men, but not exclusively. They are, for the most part, average guys. When we matched client data in both the US and the UK with the rest of the male population, we found no difference between the two groups on most measures. Still, clients care about the effects of buying sex on their reputations, and they face more risk when prostitution is criminalised. But by and large, clients of sex workers tend to be risk-takers. There is a high correlation between paying for sex and engaging in other risky behaviours. To many men, criminalised prostitution is actually more attractive than decriminalised or legal sex work. So pushing prostitution into the shadows not only makes sex work more dangerous, it actually increases demand.

Maria Laura Di Tommaso & Marina Della Giusta

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

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A Full Service Agency

Running an escort agency business is, in many ways, the same as running almost any service based business. You have to work out your marketing and promotions, your pricing and your target market segmentation. Again, as with most markets you have some basic choices to make. Are you going to go bottom end – massage parlour level work with cheap incalls and a high turn over of staff and suppliers? Or perhaps mid market with the majority of your business coming to you via your web site and gradually building a loyal cadre of repeat regular clients and talent (escort girls)? Or perhaps going high end and focusing on the super rich? Which means having a network built through introducers and strong word of mouth. Or maybe going niche and focusing on dominatrices delivering BDSM services or some other smaller segment with less direct competition.

One of my friends decided very early on that the super rich clients were going to be her forte. As a former full time model and part time high class escort, she already knew lots of high end concierges and the people who ran the VIP guest lists at many of the worlds best night clubs. She also had access to the Prs and influencers who make things happen at the high end of the market. She also has an existing “black book” of contacts – both Barbies Babes and clients, which meant that she could hit the ground running pretty much from day one. Since then she has gone from strength to strength. But the way that she runs her business would not appeal to me.

She spend hige amounts of her time dealing with things that are not directly related to her escort business activities – getting people VVIP access to places that they would not normally know about, organsing chauffeurs, planes, hotel suites, unobtainable drinks such as Stolichnaya Elit Himalayan Edition, that sort of thing. And she does it so that she can then book the pair of escort girls that accompany the client in the car, plane, hotel suite and in drinking the vodka. Yes she makes a lot of money, but her business is damned hard work and she can not easily pass the work on to others. She literally sleeps with three phones on her pillow. And whatever the money to be made, I am not willing to do that anymore.

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How Stigma Affects The Safety Of Sex Workers

I adore TED talks. Even the bad ones are good. Some of them are stunning and fantastic. One from (of all people) Fulbright scholar Dolph Lundgren nearly broke my heart. Especially as he was a resident of Marbella with his family for many years. The talk explains what happened and why he is no longer with them and lives in Los Angeles. But it was so human that it shocked me. And some on psychology, emotions and human relationships have been incredibly enlightening. I have never before heard of the TED Radio Hour, which is on National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States. A friend introduced me to it and I was surprised to find a really interesting talk there from a British activist for the rights of sex workers in the United Kingdom and far beyond. I think her talk should be obligatory listening for anyone who works in our industry, who is a client of our industry, or knows someone who works in the industry or pats for sex. You know, basically everyone!

juno mac giving ted talkJuno Mac is a sex worker and activist based in London. She works with the Sex Work Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM), a collective of sex workers focused on advocating full decriminalization of sex work, campaigning for better working conditions, and educational resources for sex workers in the United Kingdom. Her talk on how stigma compromises the safety of sex workers is powerful and full of insights even for professionals who have been in the business for as long as I have. It is well worth a listen for everyone. And it will open most peoples eyes to how preconceptions, misconceptions and ignorant views on the industry impact on the safety of sex workers.

When you cannot call the police after a rape or assault because you are more likely to be treated as a criminal than a victim, even being threatened with jail or (illegal) deportation, how does that make you safe? And surely it must drive women to be “protected” by pimps and exploiters if they cannot expect the law and civil society to take care of them. And if “women like that” are asking for it, how can they expect to be safe? In Spain we are fortunate not to have the same issues. We have our own and they are very complicated, but most of the ones that Mac discusses do not apply here in enlightened Spain.