(Independent) Spain, the world capital of prostitution?
Europe’s largest brothel has just opened in a land where no fewer than 39 per cent of men admit to visiting sex workers
The Spanish economy may be dangerously close to meltdown this week but one area at least – prostitution – appears to be doing very nicely, thank you.
“Don Jose – cleanliness; Don Jose – discretion; Don Jose – security, and a patrolled car park,” half-whispers the calm female voice on a Granada radio station throughout the day. It is an advertisement for the city’s biggest and best-known brothel.
Cut to a Saturday night inside the said Don Jose “club” – three storeys high, flashing neon lights, two bars, a VIP zone and some 70 sex workers, clad in everything from nightgowns to G-strings to the very briefest of shorts – and, according to local regulars, business is booming. “The place is heaving every weekend,” comments “Alvaro”, an experienced brothel-goer in his late forties. “These days in the afternoons and early evenings, you’ll get businessmen who’ve told their wives they’re at meetings. Then later on, there are hordes of 18- or 19-year-olds, just there to have a laugh and, if they want, have a quick lay as well.”
This is no exaggeration. Prostitution is so popular (and socially accepted) in Spain that a United Nations study reports that 39 per cent of all Spanish men have used a prostitute’s services at least once. A Spanish Health Ministry survey in 2009 put the percentage of one-time prostitute users at 32 per cent: lower than the UN figure, perhaps, but far higher than the 14 per cent in liberal-minded Holland, or in Britain, where the figure is reported to oscillate between 5 and 10 per cent. And that was just those men willing to admit it.
To meet this vast demand, an estimated 300,000 prostitutes are working in Spain – everywhere from clubs in town centres to industrial estates, to lonely country roads to roadside bars, the last often recognisable by gigantic neon signs of champagne bottles or shapely females, flashing away in the darkness. And recently, on the French border, Club Paradise opened with 180 sex workers, making it the biggest brothel in Europe.
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