Irene Montero, Spain's Equality Minister, has sought the shutting down of brothel by regions in order to curb new outbreaks of COVID-19. The call comes a week following the government imposed closure of nearly all nightlife establishents and put in place several restrictions.

The ministry has despatched a letter seeking "regions to specifically act on places where prostitution is exercised, like brothels", Montero told the radio station RNE on Friday. In Spain, brothels fucntion in a legally grey area. This makes the regulation of their activities difficult, said a ministry spokesman.

Irene Montero
Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero Wikimedia Commons

Calls for Uniform Restrictions

Prostitution is tolerated in Spain while sexual exploitation and pimping are illegal. Many brothels operate in the country as hotels or other lodging establishments. Montero said the same rules that apply to nightclubs should be imposed on brothels, while her ministry was working on regulation to protect people from sexual exploitation.

Parties and Nightlife Linked New Infection Clusters

Montero did not specify whether she was considering an outright ban on prostitution, as some people advocate, or to regulate the activity and give legal protection to sex workers. With more than 377,000 total cases and nearly 29,000 deaths, Spain is grappling with one of Europe's most severe coronavirus epidemics, marked by a recent new increase in infections.

Nightlife venues and informal parties have been linked to several clusters of infection since Spain emerged from a strict lockdown at the end of June. At least one cluster had been linked to prostitution, according to the equality ministry.

(With inputs from agencies)