Atocha railway station

Atocha railway station in one of the major train stations in Madrid. It is very exciting to see the lovely tropical garden inside the station. However, the station has a tragic past, as it was one of the main sites of the 2004 Madrid bombings. As a result, security check at the station is now very strict and similar to the airport security check. For example X-ray machines are used to scan all pieces of luggage.

* All photos by me –click to enlarge.

Sex work in Madrid

Sex work is not illegal in Spain. Along with my IASSAC colleagues, I visited Chueca and its nearby streets; where has been the traditional Madrid’s red-light district. It was afternoon, and many sex workers aged 30 and above were walking along the streets. In order to accompany my colleagues, I was unable to talk to them. However, the other evening, I went to Grand Via, a street that is also a hub of street sex workers, and managed to talk to many of them. Most of them were from Eastern European countries, namely, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Their English language skills were good enough to communicate with international customers. Their rate was relatively high; depending on their services, they charged around 100 to 150 euros per hour (this was the rate in July 2011).

There are some strip clubs in Madrid as well. One day, in the late afternoon, I randomly went to some clubs on Grand Via and spoke to several dancers about their services and rates. A customer who wants to have a private dance with a sex worker needs to buy a drink for the chosen girl; the drink costs around 40-50 euros  and the dance lasts about 3-5 mins. I asked the girls about the service provided after the dance! Surprisingly, some strip clubs provide rooms for their clients to have sex with their dancers, and the price varies between 100 and 150 euros for half an hour (their rate in July 2011).

I think the laws related to sex workers are more relaxed in Spain than in the UK. In Britain, street sex work is illegal and the prohibition applies to both workers and clients. Moreover, as far as I know, people are not allowed to have sex in gentlemen’s clubs or strip clubs.