MARBELLA has become a prostitution hotspot after a legal loophole lets pimps operate out of unassuming apartments. 

In the centre of Marbella, people explore the old town, enjoy cocktails and sunbathe at the beach, but little do they know they could be right next to a brothel.

Since the pandemic, pimps have been operating in networks of flats across the Costa del Sol, reports Malaga Hoy. 

In the growing practice, pimps use unassuming apartments as brothels because police cannot enter a ‘home’ unless ordered to by a judge. 

Judges will not order police to enter a property if they do not have good reason to believe crimes are taking place inside.

The local council states they are not aware that private residences are being used as brothels and would coordinate with security forces and social services should this come to light. 

Brothels could be running out of apartments like this in Marbella. Photo: Photo by Nevin Puri on Unsplash

However the women’s charity, Mujer Emancipada (Emancipated Woman) says: “Street prostitution has been reduced because it has moved to other more private spaces where access to the Police and our health and social resources is more difficult.”

According to Malaga Hoy, many of the women involved are immigrants who have arrived in Spain with debt to criminal organisations which is used to trap them into sex work. 

The practice could also be influenced by an increase in sanctions on sex workers. 

In the past year, the number of sanctions given to those offering sexual services less than 200 metres away from schools, parks, residential areas and businesses has increased by 130%. 

In 2022, there were 77 reports by the end of October, a number which increased to 178 this year. 

This, according to social exclusion charity Nuevo Hogar Betania, does nothing to address the real reason sex workers are on the streets and ignores the real problem. 

Founder, Begoña Arana, instead advocates for fining those seeking sex workers and focussing police efforts on stag parties and apartments where young sex workers are often abused. 

Begoña Arana Photo: Nuevo Hogar Betania

She has even warned against the practice of ‘selling virginities’, which she says implicates ‘a total loss of human rights’. 

It comes after a shocking case in April this year, where 34 people were arrested for their involvement in a prostitution ring which stretched along the Costa del Sol. 

Some 20 women were liberated from sex work in Marbella, Estepona and Algeciras. 

Women liberated from explotation in April this year. Photo: Policia Nacional

Many of the victims were Colombian women brought to Spain with the promise of stable work. 

Once here, they were told they were in debt to the criminal gang for their travel expenses and must pay them back through sex work. 

The victims were forced to ‘work’ for hours and heavily monitored through CCTV cameras. 

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