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Thursday, September 4, 2008


Yesterday I stated how startled I was that Spain generates 50 million euros a day on prostitution. Today I said I would reveal an interesting statistic on prostitution in Gibraltar and I will - it doesn’t have any!

Around ten years ago it struck me that here was a major naval port and yet I’d never seen any signs of “working girls” or boys for that matter. I had read the hilarious autobiography by George Melly entitled “Rum, bum and concertina”. It covered his World War II years in the Royal Navy and several pages were dedicated to his warship’s call in to Gibraltar on its way back to Blighty.

Sadly I don’t have a copy to hand but it gave a graphic and wonderfully funny picture of Gibraltar just as the war had ended and prostitutes there were a plenty.

Now the whole world knows all the girls love a sailor – and none more so than the girls of the night. So why weren’t there any prostitutes on the Rock?

John D Stewart had been a senior Civil Servant in Gibraltar for 10 years and in 1967 he published “Gibraltar – The Keystone”. This is what he says about prostitution:
“Another social problem, prostitution, was banished from The Rock about half a century ago, and Gibraltar became, the sailors tell me, the only whoreless port in the Mediterranean Sea. Can we give the churches and their earnest adherents the credit for this reform? Catholic countries around the world seem well furnished in this respect. Can we credit the British administration then? I think not, for the world’s supermarket for whores is Hong Kong, where the Anglican British are in undisputed authority.

“As I see it, Gibraltar was simply too small, crowded and intimate to contain the trade. The brothel quarter was right in the heart of the city, naturally known to every citizen, regardless of sex or age. A local septuagenarian told me, without remorse, how he used to go there as a little lad on his way home from school and see an impressive peepshow for a penny... So notorious a place, hemmed in on all its approaches by respectable private houses, could have been of little use to the manly citizens. It served only as a magnet for soldiers and sailors, and became a resort of drunkenness and noisy debauchery, with the inevitable fighting which attends such occasions, and it was ended easily, like Gibraltar’s other social problems – by export.”

So where did it go? – across the border to La Línea in Spain of course. John D Stewart continues:
“When the law was passed the professional ladies, some Spanish, some British moved to La Línea. The frontier was not much restricted at that time, and their clients could find them. The migration covered not much more than a mile as the crow flies and in the circumstances, as they knew, he flies fast and straight. In La Línea they colonised a whole street, a street which points straight at The Rock and, perhaps for that reason, but some say for nostalgia, was called La Calle de Gibraltar.”

And there it seems to have stayed. Not in the calle Gibraltar, which much earlier had been at the heart of the tobacco smuggling trade, but is now part of La Línea’s thriving town centre. However there are certainly “working girls” in the border town and they used to parade along the road to Campamento although I suspect the now tougher police regime has moved them on.

I spoke to a Royal Gibraltar Police officer when I did my original article and he told me there was no prostitution on the Rock and indeed, in all the years he had been on the force, he couldn’t remember there having been such a case. I have seen no suggestion of any change unless, of course, you know different.

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