French Prostitutes protest latest proposals

The issue of a potential crackdown on prostitution is back up for debate Monday with French lawmakers as whether to punish prostitutes or their clients.

French senators will debate whether the law should punish prostitutes or their clients. The proposed would revise a bill passed by France’s lower house in 2013 which never took effect.

That bill would have repealed a law passed in 2003 that made offering sex for sale a crime and would have made clients liable for a fine of €1,500 for a first offense and more than double for repeat offenders. The move to put the responsibility on clients was inspired by similar legislation on the books in Sweden since 1999.

Under a revamped bill that will be discussed, prostitutes would face fines of up to €3,750 and two months in prison for selling sex, and the previous bill of fining clients would be dropped.

Both versions have drawn fierce opposition from sex workers who say they would push prostitution further underground and would make women who earn their living from it more vulnerable to abuse.

Many prostitutes who took to the streets of Paris to protest the proposed laws are South American and Chinese.

Accepting payment or paying for sex currently is not a crime in France, however soliciting, which includes running a brothel and the sale of sex by minors are prohibited.

The government argues the bill aims to prevent violence against women and protect a large majority of prostitutes who are victims of trafficking gangs. However, the legislation has sparked a debate in France over whether criminalizing prostitutes’ clients would have the desired effect of reducing the sex trade.

There are approximately 30,000 sex workers in France, with more than 80 percent of who come from abroad. Most are from Africa, China, Eastern Europe, and South America.

The current version of the bill would call for tougher measures against pimps and more support for victims and is aimed at prevention efforts for young people.

Photo by Lamlavitadimerda

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