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France’s move to criminalise prostitution will ‘endanger lives’

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Summary of story from France 24, December 8, 2011

The controversial move this week by members of the National Assembly in Paris to make prostitution illegal in France has been condemned by a number of  organisations representing sex workers.

A bill will be introduced to parliament within the next few days, and if passed, fines of €3,000 and prison sentences of up to six months could be given to anybody caught exchanging sex for money.

The proposed crackdown has angered organisations representing sex workers, as they believe it will leave them increasingly vulnerable to abuse and violence.

Sara Walker, from the London-based International Prostitutes Collective, said:

“The French proposals are dangerous, and criminal.  Sex workers experience and all the research shows criminalising clients drives women underground and into more danger.”

Morgane Merteuil, general secretary of Strass – the union for sex workers in Paris – was equally critical of the move, saying that laws that are designed to protect women are in fact “completely counter-productive” because prostitutes will be hidden from organisations and health services that can help them and will be forced to take protection from pimps.

Walker also said that the legislation would make the situation worse “under the guise of making it better”, and declared that the tough stance is a politically motivated stunt ahead of the elections next year.

Others have suggested that the timing of this week’s vote at the National Assembly is a reaction to the series of sex scandals involving former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was named recently in an investigation into a pimping ring in Lille (see WVoN story).

Update: Here’s another link to a story on the same theme from The Atlantic.

  1. Ah yes, criminalising prostitution drives it underground and puts women in the power of pimps.

    As if they’re not already.

    It’s noteworthy that “sex-workers” unions generally include pimps as members.

    So they’re not actually very trustworthy sources of information regarding the rights of the women they exploit.

    All the experience shows that where prostitution is legal, it simply legitimises the feelings of entitlement that men have, to use women as their masturbatory aids and it does absolutely nothing to stop trafficking or the illegal side of the trade. Where it is illegal, as in the nordic countries, women’s status is higher prostituted women are not stopped from accessing health and advice services.

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