P4P in France

Sex work in France

1st December

Update: More for the Poor House...

French parliament to debate measure criminalising men who buy sex

French lawmakers will next week test France's long history of liberal attitudes toward sex by introducing a bill outlawing prostitution.

Lawmakers from all parties represented in the National Assembly, France's lower house, will on Tuesday present the bill to outlaw prostitution, said Guy Geoffroy of the ruling UMP party.

Prostitution is not illegal in France though several linked activities are, including soliciting, procuring and operating a brothel, while paying for sex with someone under the age of 18 is banned.

Sex workers' groups denounced the proposal as an attack on their rights and this week protested in front of the National Assembly against the bill.

The bill follows recommendations from a cross-party parliamentary commission that said criminalisation is the best path to reducing prostitution in France, as countries that have regulated this activity saw it increase . Earlier this year, the commission recommended imposing sentences of up to six months in prison and a $4,040 fine on clients of prostitutes.

An estimated 20,000 people work as prostitutes in France.


8th December

Update: Miserable France...

French parliament back measure criminalising men who buy sex

France's parliament has backed a proposal to make payment for sex a crime punishable by fines and prison.

The National Assembly approved by a show of hands a cross-party, non-binding resolution which is due to be followed by a bill.

Six-month prison sentences and fines of 3,000 Euros ( 2,580) are envisaged for customers of prostitutes.

Some campaigners reject the bill, advocating prostitutes' rights instead.

Around 20,000 people are believed to be working as prostitutes in France.

Guy Geoffroy, an MP from the ruling UMP party who sits on the commission, said France's political parties had reached a consensus on the issue because it was a matter of republican ethics . Nine out of 10 prostitutes were victims of trafficking, he ludicrously claimed. From now on prostitution is regarded from the point of view of violence against women and that has become unacceptable for everyone, Geoffroy added.

Comment: Monsieur Geoffroy le Con

9th December 2011. From Alan

If you're looking for words to describe the absurd M. Geoffroy, twat can usefully be translated as con .



Update: Making Paris Streets Unsafe...

French sex workers march to protest against police repression

Link Here5th June 2012
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France

Nearly 200 sex workers have taken to the streets in Paris to protest against police repression and plans to penalise customers. They marched from Place Pigalle to Chatele.

The sex-workers' union Strass told journalists they wanted: our views to be taken into account when decisions concerning us are taken .

Morgane Merteuil, of Strass, said sex-workers were being repressed all the time - despite the fact that prostitution is not illegal in France.

The prostitutes say that new laws such as the ban on vans in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and the proposal to penalise customers were pushing prostitutes towards working illegally with pimps and as part of illegal networks.



Update: Unsafe Goverment...

Protests in Paris against a miserable government proposal to criminalise buying sex

Link Here8th July 2012
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France

Hundreds of people including sex workers protested in Paris on Saturday against plans to make paying for sex illegal, criticising a minister's mean minded plan as counter-productive.

France's minister for women's rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, said she wanted to make prostitution disappear by punishing those who pay for sex, rather than the prostitutes themselves. She was backed by prominent feminists and allies in government, but her remarks unleashed a hail of criticism from sex workers' unions, which argued that punishing clients would drive business underground, endangering prostitutes.

At Place Pigalle, one of Paris' red-light districts, dozens of sex workers chanted pro-prostitution slogans through loudspeakers and waved signs that read Penalised clients = murdered prostitutes and Sex work is work too .

Morgane Mertreuil, head of the Strass sex workers' union, told Reuters TV:

Before making public statements, she (Vallaud-Belkacem) needs to do her homework, to find out about the reality of prostitution

The struggle against forced labour is not incompatible with the idea of giving rights to people who do this job with consent.



Offsite Article: How prostitution became France's hottest social issue...

Link Here 25th September 2012
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
The new Socialist government's determination to abolish prostitution has the whole country in debate. But what do the sex workers think of the plan?

See article from guardian.co.uk



Update: Passive Acceptance...

France set to repeal ban on sex workers engaging in 'passive soliciting' but worse could follow

Link Here18th March 2013
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France

French sex workers are hopeful of being able to return to French city centres in their traditional attire after President Hollande's government moved to lift restrictions that forced many to work in jeans and anoraks.

In the latest French move over the world's oldest profession, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the minister for women's rights, said the Head of State would repeal a ten-year-old law designed to curb prostitution in France.

The announcement represented a notable victory for French call-girl unions, who demonstrated in Paris over the weekend as part of their campaign against what they describe as police harassment.

However, lest people celebrate to quickly, the Government seems to be seeking a replacement which could easily be a lot worse.

Minister of Women's Rights Najat Belkacem-Vallaud said Saturday in Le Parisien that the campaign pledge of Francois Hollande on the repeal of this offense would be honoured...But...

A proposal for comprehensive law on prostitution and trafficking should be developed by the fall, she said, adding that penalizing the client was an avenue among others.

In the meantime Senator Esther Benbassa has filed a bill to repeal the offense of soliciting, which will be debated in the Senate on March 28.



Update: Lost Liberty, Gender Equality and Sorority...

French MPs back the criminalisation of men who buy sex

Link Here 1st December 2013
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
The French parliament has backed part of a bill that imposes a 1,500 euro fine on anyone paying for sex.

Protests for and against the bill took place outside the National Assembly in Paris as the debate took place.

MPs voted for the fine in a show of hands late on Friday night although the full text of the bill - which contains 20 articles - will be put to the vote on 4 December.

Under the new provision, repeat offenders risk a fine of 3,750 euros. Alternatively, they can attend a course to make them aware of the risks involved in the sale of sex. One article aims to decriminalise France's estimated 40,000 prostitutes by scrapping a 2003 law that bans soliciting on the streets. The law would instead target the customers.

Only about 30 members of the National Assembly were present when the debate began on Friday afternoon. 



Update: Sex Workers Have Rights Too...

France's Human Rights Commission is unimpressed by legislation to criminalise buying sex

Link Here7th June 2014
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
The French Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme (CNCDH) has released its opinion on the proposals for amending the country's sex work laws. The CNCDH includes representatives from many of the country's major human rights NGOs including Inter-LGBT , Amnesty International and the Human Rights League . The national sex workers union, STRASS (Syndicat du Travail Sexuel), along with other organisations working in the field of sex worker rights and HIV prevention have welcomed the position taken by the Commission. The organisations are particularly supportive of the Commission's comments on the laws against passive soliciting, which are currently in place in France, and the proposal to introduce laws criminalising the clients of sex workers.

France introduced a passive soliciting law in 2003, which made it illegal simply to look like a sex worker in locations known for prostitution. The CNCDH was firm in its criticism of the passive solicitation laws. It argued that the law has had a detrimental effect on the health of sex workers and their working conditions. Forcing sex workers to effectively become invisible to avoid arrest and prosecution has increased their isolation and left them more vulnerable to violence. STRASS continues to fight against the passive solicitation laws and demands that it be repealed immediately.

The CNCDH is also critical of the proposals to introduce laws criminalising the clients of sex workers. The CNCDH argues that criminalising clients will force sex workers to work from more remote areas, their ability to negotiate with clients will be reduced and given the potential reduction in client numbers their ability to refuse clients may also be compromised. The CNCDH also points out that criminalising clients will make it more difficult for health and social support organisations to offer services to sex workers given the move to more isolated working spaces. All of these factors, according to the CNCDH, will have a serous impact on the health and rights of sex workers and make them more vulnerable to violence.

The proposed law amending France's prostitution laws (to repeal passive solicitation and introduce the criminalisation of clients) passed its reading in the National Assmebly in December 2013 and is currently in the Senate where it has not yet been debated or voted on. The CNCDH points out that there is nothing in the proposed Bill, which is designed to improve or further the rights of sex workers in France. The Commission is critical of this failure and notes that France should not delay further in supporting sex workers and ensuring they have effective access to rights.

The Commission is also careful to distinguish between sex work and trafficking in human beings, which are often conflated in French policy and discourse. The CNCDH argues that any discussion or policy on human trafficking must be extended to all forms of economic exploitation and that preventing trafficking should not be used simply as a cover for criminalising sex work.



Update: Passive Oppression...

French sex workers order to wear plain clothes

Link Here28th March 2015
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
Women in skimpy outfits and high heels could be arrested under new French laws that make it illegal to simply look like a prostitute in public.

France is set to bring in a repressive new anti-vice law that makes passive soliciting by appearing to be offering sex for sale illegal. It is expected that prostitutes will be forced to wear casual clothing like jeans and trainers to get around the rules. The law will outlaw the act of publicly soliciting another person for paid sex, by any means, including passive behaviour .

But French sex workers' union Strass see the law as a huge step backwards . Spokesman Chloe Navarro said:

It is making criminals of women for how they dress, and victimising prostitutes for doing their job and aggravating their working conditions.

Lawmakers in France's upper house the Senate will vote on the law next week.



Update: A Red Umbrella Day...

French Senate votes against the criminalisation of paying for sex

Link Here1st April 2015
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
France's upper house of parliament has rejected a draft law penalising people paying for sex via prostitution.

In December 2013, the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, approved legislation making clients of prostitutes liable for a fine of 1,500 euros ($1,620) for a first offence and double that thereafter.

But by a large majority, the opposition-dominated Senate reversed the National Assembly's proposal, scrapping the fines for prostitutes' clients and also dropping plans to repeal a law that made soliciting an offence in 2003.

The latest legislation had been fiercely opposed by sex workers, who said it would drive prostitution further underground and make them vulnerable to abuse.

Hundreds of prostitutes took to the streets of Paris on Saturday to protest against the proposed law.

Prostitution is legal in France and there are an estimated 30,000 sex workers in the country, more than 80% of whom come from abroad. But since 2003 offering sex for sale has been against the law.

The National Assembly has the last word on the issue and is likely to revert to the original plan of penalising clients.



Update: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Intolerance...

French parliament restores nasty measure to criminalise people who pay for sex

Link Here 14th June 2015
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
French Lawmakers voted in favor of changes to a proposed bill on the country's prostitution laws, approving the criminalisation of people who pay for sex.  The same measure was previously removed from the bill in March by the Conservative controlled Senate.

With the bill returning to its repressive original version, senators will once again discuss the matter. In the case of an impasse, the lower chamber will have the final word on the proposed law.

According to a Nest Movement report released in May, between 30,000 and 44,000 people work in France's prostitution industry full time, with part time sex work being much more difficult to evaluate. Only 30 percent of those in the industry work in the streets, while 62 percent engage customers online and 8 percent through hostess bars or massage parlors.



Update: Ever more stigmatised...

French sex workers protests against the criminalisation of their customers

Link Here16th June 2015
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
Sex workers have been assembling in Paris and across France to protest the proposed criminalisation of their clients.

Late last month, sex workers from eight different countries--including countries where clients are criminalised, such as Sweden, Norway and Northern Ireland--gathered in Paris' Human Rights Square alongside NSWP member group STRASS and the migrant Chinese sex worker group, Steel Roses to commemorate International Sex Worker Day and the 40-year anniversary of the occupation of the Saint-Nizier church in Lyon, as well as to protest the proposed criminalisation bill, which will be discussed on the 12th of June in a second reading in the Assembly.

After 40 years of activism, the situation has not improved, STRASS' Thierry Schaffauser told Liberation. Punishing clients will exacerbate the situation, pushing sex workers into more precarious situations, he said. Pye Jakobsson told the press that in Sweden, where clients have been criminalised since 1999, sex workers are even more stigmatised.

Sex workers in France have been fighting attempts to criminalise their clients for years. The issue was first discussed in the National Assembly in December 2011 when a non-binding resolution was adopted supporting the introduction of the Swedish model. This was later followed by the introduction of a formal Bill by the ruling French Socialist Party.

The Bill proposed to introduce fines for anyone caught paying for or soliciting commercial sexual services and was passed by the Assembly in December 2013. The bill then went to the Senate but was first considered by a Committee, which removed the clause containing the provisions to criminalise clients in July 2014 . However the proposal in now back on the table with a bill due to be discussed in the Assembly on the 12th of June.

In Paris, the Chinese sex workers are particularly vulnerable because they can not speak the language, are often undocumented and victims of police harassment, which prevents them from reporting if they are attacked by a client, said Ajing, President of Steel Roses.



Updated: Miserable France...

French parliament is just about to pass a nasty new law to endanger sex workers and criminalise their customers

Link Here9th April 2016
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
The French parliament is set to rubber stamp a nasty new law to endanger sex workers and criminalise their customers

The stand-out measure from the bill and the one that has caused the most controversy is the law that will see clients fined if they are caught paying for sex. Under the plan, customers will be fined up to 1,500 euro and up to 3,750 euro for repeat offenders. Presumably France does not have the concept of incitement to commit a crime.

A period of grace will also be introduced so clients will not immediately be fined, but they will be expected to take heed of the new law.

The measure has not only been criticised by sex workers, who fear they will become victim to yet more violence, stigmatization and poverty but also by police, charities and rights groups, who doubt it will have the desired impact in reducing prostitution.

The second measure in the bill will repeal of the law that made passive soliciting illegal, ie dressing to attract customers. This measure has been largely welcomed by all sides.

These new bodies that will come under the authority of the council in each of France's Apartements will be tasked with coordinating action to help sex workers and to tackle trafficking.

Update: Law passed

7th April 2016. See  article from theguardian.com

France is to make it illegal to pay for sex after MPs approved new legislation on prostitution following more than two years of rows and opposition by senators.

Under the new law, anyone caught purchasing an act from a sex worker will be fined and required to attend classes on the harms of prostitution.

There would be a 1,500 euro (1,200) fine for a first offence, rising to 3,750 euros for a second, which would also be put on the person's criminal record. The victim would be forced to attend classes highlighting the supposed harms of prostitution.

The law was passed by 64 votes to 12 with many MPs absent.

Update: Sex workers protest

 9th April 2016. See  article from centralchronicle.com

The French union of sex workers are protesting against the repressive bill that imposes fines on clients paying for sex.

Sex workers in France expressed their dismay protesting outside the National Assembly on 6 April. According to the union of sex workers STRASS, the law will make the nearly 30,000 sex workers in France more vulnerable.



Dangerous law...

Report reveals that 10 French sex workers were murdered after being put into danger by a new law criminalising their customers

Link Here18th April 2021
Full story: P4P in France...Sex work in France
In 2016, France passed a law, the Prostitution Act that made it a crime to pay for sex. Now a new study by researchers at the Center for International Studies in Paris recently released a report deeming the law a failure.

In fact, in just six months leading up to February of 2020, 10 French sex workers were murdered, as part of an overall uptick in violence against sex workers, according to the group Decrim Now, which advocates full decriminalization.

The Center for International Studies report notes that shifting the criminal responsibility for sex work offenses from the providers to the purchasers has actually given clients more power over sex workers. The drop in client numbers has increased clients' power to negotiate acceptance of unsafe sexual practices. In fact, sex workers pointed to client criminalization as the main factor in their loss of power due to a decrease in income, which was reported by 78% of respondents, the report states.

The law itself had not even succeeded in its stated purpose, of deterring clients from purchasing sexual services, according to French Senator Annick Billon, president of the senate's delegation for women's rights. Billon told the German news agency DW that in the four years that the Prostitution Act has been in effect, only 5,000 fines have been imposed on prospective customers, though France is estimated to have a sex worker population numbering 40,000.

The law is currently being challenged at the European High Court of Human Rights.

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