The president of Spain announced last week that the government wants to ban sex ads from the nation’s newspapers. The classified sections of Spain’s newspapers are currently full of explicit advertisements, bringing in about 40 million euros to the struggling print media industry. El Pais alone, one of the countries leading newspapers, makes 5 million euros from sex ads. Banning these is part of the government’s anti-trafficking strategy, and there is quite the storm in the media about it.
In a BBC article, the president is quoted as saying, “As long as these advertisements exist, they contribute to the idea of this activity as normal.”
Currently, prostitution accounts for 60% of Spain’s classified ad market. According to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, 90% of those engaged in prostitution in Spain are victims of forced prostitution, controlled by organized criminal networks. If this is indeed the case, it makes sense that newspaper sex ads are not generally placed my individual women but by the mafias, largely from Romania, Nigeria, and several Latin American countries. Recently in Madrid, one of these networks was discovered by police who followed the newspaper sex ads.
It is sad that traditional print media in Spain is surviving only because of sex ad profits. This has to change. I believe that the president is making the right move by proposing a ban on something that traffickers have manipulated in their favour for way too long. The government and newspapers should come up with a creative agreement to bring in money when sex ads are no longer providing profit. Your thoughts?