French parliament backs reform of law on prostitution

PARIS Sat Nov 30, 2013 7:28am EST

1 of 3. A prostitute from Eastern Europe waits for customers along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, November 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Related Topics

PARIS (Reuters) - The French parliament early on Saturday backed a reform of the country's prostitution law that will impose a 1,500-euro fine on anyone paying for sex.

The bill will give France some of the toughest legislation on prostitution in Europe, similar to that of Sweden.

Under the new bill, prostitutes' clients will become offenders while soliciting itself will no longer be considered a criminal offence.

Previously, buying and selling sex for money was not illegal in France but the act of soliciting was, as was pimping.

The reform, which has divided the country, still needs to be formerly endorsed by parliament on Wednesday.

Movie stars like Catherine Deneuve, who played a middle-class housewife who chooses to prostitute herself in the 1960s film "Belle de Jour", is one of several dozen celebrities who have signed a petition against the law.

Some 90 percent of France's estimated 20,000 to 40,000 prostitutes are foreign, mostly victims of Nigerian, Chinese and Romanian trafficking networks, the government says.

That is a very different picture from just over a decade ago, when only one in five prostitutes were foreign and organized crime rings much less prevalent - one of the main reasons the law needs tightening, proponents say.

(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; editing by Andrew Roche)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
M_Lehmann wrote:
In my view, the information provided in this article is insufficient. First of all, there are still several hurdles this law has to pass and only some 30 MPs of a total 577 were present at the parliament last night to vote on this bill. The French Assembly will vote on it on December 4th, after which the bill will then go to Senate who can refuse or amend it, and then head back for yet another vote in the National Assembly.

Even if the law will pass, which it probably will, calling it a reform is hardly an appropriate term. Whereas data by those supporting the utopian project to create a Europe free from prostitution is sketchy at best, there is hard evidence of the effects of the “Swedish Model” on the rights of sex workers as well as on the efforts to fight human trafficking. The sentence that soliciting will no longer be an offence seems to support the notion that the law will somehow benefit sex workers, which is incorrect.

For those unfamiliar with the impact of laws such as the one soon to be introduced in France, I invite you to read “Criminalising the payment for sexual services – An introduction for the uninitiated”.

Nov 30, 2013 10:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.