A resort town in Spain known for a level of debauchery that makes U.S. spring break hotspots like Daytona Beach seem tame by comparison may have managed to top itself on the scale of utter chaos.
The current scandal in Magaluf, where authorities have struggled to repair its out-of-control image, involves rising tensions between – wait for it – Nigerian prostitutes and British expats and tourists.
British expats, who include owners of clubs that cater to tourists and locals, say the prostitutes are behaving badly in the town located in the southwest of the island of Mallorca, known for its beaches and Roman ruins.
The accusations, so far, have less to do with their chosen line of work and more with complaints that the women are targeting vacationers and locals, in some cases with the promise of sex, to commit crimes against them.
An organizer of protests against the prostitutes, some of whom have been seen with knives, told The Sun that the women must get out of Magaluf, saying they “have robbed, stabbed, bullied and attacked not only holidaymakers but the residents and seasonal workers of Magaluf.”
They told the Sun that the prostitutes and their pimps are assaulting and stealing from tourists and locals, sometimes hurling stones and sticks at them.
The prostitutes – who are said to lack the proper documents to live in Spain and apparently end up in Magaluf through Nigerian crime groups -- say it is the protesters and others who side with them who have crossed the line, harassing and assaulting the women.
They say they are being profiled.
Some five protesters were arrested, charged with hate crimes after about 20 Nigerian prostitutes filed reports with police accusing them of insulting, assaulting and filming them in an effort to harass them. The assaults, the women say, include pepper spray and being beat up, requiring some of them to seek medical treatment, according to several published reports.
The protesters are furious that police have gone after them, and not, as they describe it, the real law-breakers. They vow to continue protesting throughout the summer, when crowds at the party town swell.
"Nobody does anything against the prostitutes who attack and rob our tourists,” a bar owner told the Spanish newspaper Ultimahora.es. "We go out to the street to protest and it turns out that now we are the bad guys. I do not understand anything.”
Clashes between the prostitutes and tourists and locals have been going on all week, at times turning particularly violent.
One night, protesters chased some of the women off the street, shouting “The tourists are not coming because of you.” Another yelled: “Get out, get out,” to a woman who picked up a block of wood.
For years, Magaluf has been both a money-maker and major headache for authorities in the area.
On Sunday morning, a tourist from Ireland was found dead after falling from an apartment in the resort town. The circumstances of the fall were unclear on Sunday; the Irish Times reported that people staying in the building said they heard a noise in the early morning hours. The man is said to be in his 20s.
In April, a 19-year-old Scottish woman vacationing at the resort fell to her death after trying to climb from one balcony to another on the seventh floor, the newspaper said. Police and other officials have tried tightening rules regarding the wild pub crawls and disorderly behavior. Some even pushed for changing the name of the town to give it a totally new identity.
Some incidents have made international headlines, including the fatal falls of three British tourists from balconies in 2012, a growing number of muggings and rapes, and cellphone footage that went viral in 2014 showing a Northern Ireland teenager engaged in oral sex on 24 men during a pub crawl as the D.J. encouraged her, The Guardian reported.
“It is time to shout from the rooftops that we don’t want this tourism,” the Majorca Daily Bulletin said about the incident afterward.
Some people are calling for a heavier police presence.
The protesters say they will keep up the pressure, and will demonstrate every summer night.
They are determined, they told Euroweeklynews.com, to “prevent the women from making a living preying on the people of Magaluf. If the police will not do anything about it then we will.”