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French lawmakers passed a bill banning paying for sex

The legislation makes France only the fifth European country that punishes the clients of sex workers after Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Britain.

Apr 9, 2016 09:02 IST
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French lawmakers on 6 April 2016 passed a bill that makes it illegal to pay for sex and imposes fines of up to 3750 Euro (4270 dollar) on sex workers’ clients.

The bill was passed by 64 votes to 12 but many French MPs chose to abstain from the vote. Backed by the Socialist government, the legislation makes France only the fifth European country that punishes the clients of sex workers. Other four countries that punish the clients of sex workers are Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Britain.

Features of the bill

• People who pay for sex can be fined 1500 Euro (1700 dollar) for a first offence, rising to 3750 Euro (4270 dollar) thereafter.

• A second offence would also be put on a criminal record and offenders would need to attend classes highlighting the danger of prostitution.

• It reverses the legislation passed by Nicolas Sarkozy's administration in 2003 that placed the legal burden on sex workers, rather than those seeking to buy.

• It also requires offenders to take a course to learn about the conditions faced by sex workers.

• The bill also calls for measures to help sex workers find other jobs.

The bill has been drafted by Socialist lawmaker Maud Olivier on the pretext that prostitutes should be seen as victims and no longer as delinquents. The bulk of sex workers in France are from Eastern Europe, Africa, China and Latin America.

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