29 Nov 2013

French MPs discuss ban on paying for sex

8:30 pm on 29 November 2013

The French parliament is to debate a bill which would crack down on prostitution by imposing hefty fines on anyone paying for sex.

Prostitution is legal in France, but until now only soliciting and pimping were illegal. Under the bill, those caught paying for sex would face an initial fine of €1500 euros.

Critics say the measure would drive the sex trade underground in a country which has up to 40,000 prostitutes.

Actress Catherine Deneuve is one of hundreds of celebrity figures urging the government to reconsider.

It promises to be a fiery debate but one the ruling Socialists, with a large parliamentary majority, will expect to win, the BBC reports.

A similar resolution was voted through the National Assembly at the end of 2011, with the support of both left and right. It only failed to proceed because of lack of parliamentary time.

There are more than 20 articles in the bill, most of them are aimed at disrupting foreign pimping networks or helping sex workers who want to stop. One article abolishes the existing law against soliciting.

The fine being debated would be doubled for repeat offenders.

Under the bill, clients would be made to undergo an "awareness" course on prostitution, similar to ones on the dangers of drink-driving given to traffic offenders.