Associations await decision on France sex worker law
Nine sex worker associations in France, including Médecins du Monde, are awaiting a decision from national council Le Conseil Constitutionnel on the constitutional position of prostitution in the country.
Sex workers’ union le Syndicat du Travail Sexuel (Strass), and prostitution abolition groups Mouvement du Nid, and CAP International (Coalition Pour l’Abolition de la Prostitution), have also been vocal on the decision.
The question was first submitted to Le Conseil in November 2018, and centres on whether prostitution should be seen as “a career choice” or “sexual violence”, and whether clients of prostitutes (those who pay for sex) will continue to be penalised.
A law from April 13, 2016 imposed fines of up to €1,500 for clients of prostitutes, and of up to €3,750 for repeat offenders.
A decision on the issue of the law’s constitutionality is expected from Le Conseil next week.
Grégoire Théry, national spokesperson for Mouvement du Nid and CAP International, said: “[Prostitutes in France] are not sex entrepreneurs who make ‘a career choice’. [It is] always the most vulnerable" who ‘choose’ this type of activity.”
“If Le Conseil ever decided to repeal the prohibition on the purchase of a sexual act, then we would have a legal system in which clients would be completely unpunished.
“Clients could impose sexual acts with money, and this would inevitably lead to an increase of human trafficking. Prostitution would no longer be a violence to be fought against, but become a growing market.”
He continued: “We know that today, imposing a sexual act with money is a form of sexual violence, and is connected to other forms of sexual violence, such as rape, sexual harassment or incest, that is, all the ways in which a person imposes a sexual act by using a form of coercion or pressure.
“The freedom of entrepreneurship also exists [but] it must take place [within the context] of equality between men and women, and a fight against human trafficking.
“It is justified to penalise those who exploit the vulnerability of victims."
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