French Senate Votes to Criminalize Sex Workers, Rejects Plan To Punish Clients

Mar 31, 2015
Legal
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Yet the idiocy of ‘End Demand” lives on among the French left. I wish I could say I was surprised by tho latest setback for French sex workers, but alas the hapless Morgane Merteuil of Strass once told me that she’d rather lose than win with the wrong kind of allies. — MW

Sex workers in France were left infuriated after senators scrapped a bill to target solicitors of sex work and reinstated punishments for prostitutes yesterday, a move one organisation labelled “political game-playing”.

The French Senate, which holds a conservative party majority, rejected a bill passed by the National Assembly (the lower house of the French parliament) in 2013 to criminalise the clients of sex workers, making them liable for fines of up to €1,500 for a first offence and double that for repeated breaches.

They instead voted – 165 to 44 – in favour of criminalising prostitutes, echoing a law from 2003 against passive soliciting. Sex workers face significantly higher fines of up to €3,750 and two months in prison if found guilty of selling sex.

French Senate Votes to Criminalize Sex Workers, Rejects Plan To Punish Clients

Morgane Merteuil, a former prostitute and general secretary of the French sex worker’s trade union Strass, says the motive is to get sex workers off the streets and make sex work illegal “globally”. She says she opposes the criminalisation of both prostitutes and their clients.

“When you penalise sex work, sex workers have to stay in hiding from police and city centres, so they go to isolated places, they have less clients and take more risks within their job,” she says. “They have less bargaining power and are more exposed to violence and abuses.”

She says it proves there is little care within the Senate for what is happening to sex workers.

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