A law in France that would criminalize paying for sex is an incursion into citizens’ private lives and decisions, Natalie Nougayrede, editor of Le Monde, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“If you criminalize the client, basically you’re saying that any paid sex is wrong,” she said from France. “And that actually cancels any notion that a person – a woman or a man – may want to actually on his own or her own free will carry out this act of prostitution.”
Right now prostitution is legal in France. But on Wednesday, lawmakers in France’s lower house passed a bill that would make paying for sex – though not taking money for sex – a criminal offense punishable by a 1,500 euro fine, or 3,750 euros for repeat offenders.
The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate and then signed by President Francois Hollande.
“Any person with any notion of humanistic values will come out against…human trafficking,” Nougayrede said.
But, she added, “it’s important to focus on the actual woman or person who is prostituting himself or herself. Where is his decision, where is his freedom?”
Taking prostitutes off the street, she said, does not mean that they are less vulnerable, and in fact could expose them to more criminality.
Supporters say the law would protect women from traffickers and pimps.
Nougayrede said she supported the part of the bill that would fight trafficking and help women get out of prostitution if they so wish.
To the Le Monde editor, however, it all comes down to taking away the ability to choose.
“You cannot say that any person who does carry out that activity…has never, ever made a free decision to carry out that activity.”