Prostitution in France: Clients to be Penalised.
Is this Going to Work in France? Really?
France’s National Assembly has just voted today to penalise the clients of prostitutes.
With 268 votes against 138 a law, which will make a customer of Prostitutes liable to a fine of 1 500 euros (stiffly increased for a second offence) will now go to the Senate before becoming law.
The legislation will also cover Internet sites, hosted in France, or in other countries.
In France, the law currently states that prostitution is legal, although brothels, poncing, and soliciting sex are not. The law will abolish the offence of ‘racollage’ touting for sex.
Minister for women’s rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who has pushed for the reform, argues that prostitution in any form is unacceptable and has said the aim of President François Hollande’s Socialist government was to suppress the trade altogether.
Proponents of the reform point to a rise in human trafficking as a key reason for more restrictive legislation. Some 90 percent of France’s estimated 20,000 to 40,000 prostitutes are victims of Nigerian, Chinese and Romanian trafficking networks, the government says.
Those figures represent a dramatic jump from just over a decade ago, when only one in five prostitutes was foreign.
But the proposed reforms have prompted street protests, and some prostitutes say the law will rob them of their livelihoods.
Government ministers, including Interior Minister Manuel Valls, have also expressed reservations about being able to apply the law as it stands. Hollande’s Green coalition allies voted against the reform, as did the opposition centre-right UMP members.
If the debate on France’s elected Left has been largely consensual – from the Front de Gauche to the Parti Socialiste a majority have backed the legislation, this has been far from the case amongst feminists and social movement activists.
Respected feminist, philosopher and activist, Elisabeth Badinter has declared that it is not right for the “state to legislate on the sexual activity of individuals.”
This ‘penalisation’ is prohibition. I prefer to speak of prohibition rather than abolitionishing protstitution, because that is the objective l of the authors of the bill. They comprae their legislation to the abolition of slavery! But the sale of an individual is not comparable to prostitution , which is a provision of the body for sexual purposes.
A person may accept or reject this sale, if, that is, they are not entrapped by a ‘network’ (by a criminal gang AC). The argument is that we must we must dry up the demand for sexual services so that that there is no more supply.
I do find it normal that the new legislation allows women to be prostitutes, but the law will prohibit men to make use of their services. This is not consistent and it is unfair.
The second reason for my opposition is that they claim that there is the prostitution is dominated by networks, in which women are placed in situations where they cannot say no. But amongst prostitutes there are those who are independent and casual, who practice this in order to make some extra money.
The ban – in effect to do what women want with their bodies – would be a step backwards from one of the important achievements of feminism. That is the struggle for women top do what they like their bodies. This applies, even if it is a minority of women.
It is not a matter of quantity but of principle. (Le Monde)
By contrast Caroline Fourrest has argued that there is little “choice” involved in Prostitution, nor more than for women who “choose” to wear the symbol of oppression, the veil. She perhaps does not help matters by asserting that those defending prostitutes rights are often those who back reactionary Islamists. But her main point is that issues of power are involved.
There are a host of other arguments, about the safety of sex workers, the risks that the law will drive them into clandestine lives, and the view that prostitution will simply not be ‘abolished’.
For those concerned with this debate the pages in le Monde, notably, the dossier, Une nouvelle guerre des féminismes ? (which appeared at the end of last week) are essential reading.