On November 29, 2013, French MPs voted in support of a version of the Swedish law on prostitution that criminalizes the purchase of sex with a fine of €1500 ($2040 US). The fine is doubled for a second offense. The French Parliament also repealed criminalization of people selling sex, and proposed setting aside €20 million for programs helping women to exit prostitution.
This vote is part of a global trend that challenges buying sex and understands as the Swedish law does that buying sex causes harm and that those in prostitution need social and economic support to escape. In France, 90% of those in prostitution are very poor, pimped or trafficked. A 2011 study by researchers from Germany’s Goettingen and Heidelberg universities and the London School of Economics, which assessed data from 150 countries, concluded that legalizing prostitution led to increased trafficking. The proposed law will be voted on by the National Assembly and then put to a vote in the French Senate.
Since prostitution is an activity that must be advertised, it is not going to be “driven underground” as critics of the bill allege. Maud Olivier, a feminist lawmaker who supports the bill, blasted the “hypocrisy” of critics, “One prostitute declares herself free and the slavery of others becomes respectable and acceptable?”
photo credit: European Women’s Lobby, Dec 5, 2013