Paying for sex now illegal in France
Apr 07, 2016 04:43 AM EDT
France's Parliament has passed a law that makes it illegal to put for sex, sparking protests by sex workers and supporters. Under the new law, offenders may be punished with fines up to €3,750 and would be required to attend classes to learn about the conditions of sex workers.
TIME reported the law was passed after two years of debate between the left-wing and right-wing Congress. It was inspired by a similar law promulgated in Sweden in 1999. This makes the country the fifth in Europe to criminalize clients of prostitutes, following Sweden, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom. Pimping or operating prostitution-related businesses has also been outlawed across the country.
The law also provides assistance to prostitutes to help them new work. Foreign sex workers, which make up 80% of the country's prostitutes, will also be granted six-month temporary residency permits to improve their chances of getting employed in legal trades.
"The most important aspect of this law is to accompany prostitutes, give them identity papers because we know that 85% of prostitutes here are victims of trafficking," said Socialist MP Maud Olivier.
Other supporters of the law contend that it will help eliminate trafficking in the country.
Some of France's prostitutes, however, opposed the law as they gathered in protest near the French National Assembly. According to BBC, some demonstrators carried banners that read: "Don't liberate me, I'll take care of myself."
Members of the Strass sex workers' union argue that the law will affect the livelihood of over 30,000 to 40,000 prostitutes.
Several celebrities, writers and public figures also expressed their disappointment at the passage of the law, stating that it opens up the possibility of driving the sex business further underground.
"We believe that everyone has the right to freely sell their charms - and even to like doing so. And we refuse that MPs decree norms on our desires and our pleasures," an excerpt from "Hands Off My Whore" reads, which is a manifesto released by a group of artists who support prostitutes.
Some experts opine that the law also has its loopholes, especially since it does not have any provisions with respect to people who subscribe to sex services through the internet. According to sociologist Laurent Melito, it will be difficult for authorities to control people who connect with prostitutes through dating websites or social media.