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France Considers Prostitution Ban

Published: 14/12/2011 01:33:40 PM GMT
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PARIS - In a call to respect the republican ethics, the French National Assembly is to debate abolishing prostitution by criminalizing payment for sex (more)

PARIS - In a call to respect the republican ethics, the French National Assembly is to debate abolishing prostitution by criminalizing payment for sex in the latest crackdown on the spreading routine in Europe.

The resolution urges abolition at a time when "prostitution seems to be becoming routine in Europe," the BBC reported on Tuesday, December 6.

On Tuesday, MPs will discuss a bill that would make prostitution a crime punishable by six months in prison, according to a symbolic resolution drafted by a cross-party commission.

Anyone caught buying sex would face a €3,000 (£2,600) fine.

If successful, the resolution will be followed by a bill in January.

The criminalization of clients is "the best way to see prostitution reduced in France, given that all the countries that have regulated this activity have seen an increase", the commission has argued.

In France, there are about 20,000 people believed to be working as prostitutes.

Since the end of the WWII, prostitution in France has been considered a matter of private choice and is not illegal.

Under existing French laws on prostitution, summed up by French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix, prostitution is not a crime.

Prostitutes were liable for prosecution only if it troubles public order or if the prostitute is under-age.

Though France has been committed to abolishing the practice in principle since 1960 but the MPs behind the resolution want this stance to be "proclaimed loud and strong".

Republican Ethics

Leading the new anti-prostitution resolution, France's political parties noted they had reached a consensus on the issue because it was a matter of "republican ethics".

"From now on prostitution is regarded from the point of view of violence against women and that has become unacceptable for everyone," Guy Geoffroy, an MP from the ruling UMP party who also sits on the commission, said.

Nine out of 10 prostitutes were victims of trafficking, he added.

Yet, some campaigners reject the bill, advocating prostitutes' rights instead.

Leading opposition to the bill, France's sex workers' trade union, Strass, has called a rally outside parliament to oppose the proposed bill.

A letter to MPs signed by Strass and other groups accuses politicians of treating prostitutes as "marginals whose voice does not deserve to be heard".

Contributing to the pressure for abolition, a French-led men's initiative known as ZeroMacho has published a manifesto against prostitution, gathering some 200 signatures across EU states.

ZeroMacho member Jean-Sebastien Mallet told French women's website Terrafemina that it wanted to speak for "the vast majority of men - hitherto silent - who do not use prostitutes".

The French vote is the latest of a series of crackdowns in Europe on prostitution.

In 1999, Sweden became the first country in Europe to outlaw paying for sex.

Finland introduced a similar law in 2006, while Scotland criminalized the purchase of sex in 2007.

In 2008, Norway has broken new grounds on the issue, making it illegal for citizens and residents to purchase sexual favors even abroad.

Reproduced with permission from

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