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France's news in English Search. News categories Marseille Lyon Toulouse More…. Membership My account Gift voucher Corporate Help center. Jobs in France Browse jobs Post a vacancy. Email newsletters Newsletter sign-up Edit my subscriptions. Other pages Noticeboard. French prostitutes demand their clients be free to pay for sex AFP. Share this article. Sex workers hold placards reading "Stop the decrees. Not our customers" during a demonstration in Paris. Photo: AFP. French sex workers have lodged a constitutional challenge to a law making it illegal to pay for sex, reopening a debate on whether people should be free to sell their bodies.
On Tuesday, around 30 sex workers backed by nine associations, including a medical NGO, went to the Constitutional Council to argue the law infringed their sexual and commercial freedom and made them more vulnerable to attack. Inspired by Sweden, it makes it a crime to buy sex but not to sell it, shifting the criminal responsibility to clients.
Hailed by many feminist groups at the time as an advance for women's rights, the law was assailed by sex workers as an infringement of "constitutional rights to personal autonomy and sexual freedom, respect of privacy, freedom of contract and freedom to do business. The sex workers also argued that by criminalising their clients the law has eroded their earnings, forcing them to take ever greater risks to earn a living. These include agreeing to engage in unprotected sex or to have sex in isolated environments where they are more vulnerable to attack.
She was shot dead while trying to stop a group of men robbing a client. Many rights groups argue women do not engage in prostitution freely but are forced to do so by hardship or other circumstances. Issuing a robust defence Wednesday of the law, France's High Council for Equality Between Men and Women argued prostitution was "the opposite of sexual liberation" and "oppresses all women" by enshrining the notion of male domination.
The council pointed to a poll showing that 78 percent of French supported the ban as proof of widespread support. But a lawyer for the sex workers' camp, Patrice Spinosi, countered that by making it a crime to buy sex but not to sell it the state had created a "schizophrenic" situation and "infantilised prostitutes. The Constitutional Council will publish its decision on whether the law is compatible with France's basic charter on February 1. Get notified about breaking news on The Local.