France looks to outlaw buying sex

April 1, 2011 at 7:12 PM
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PARIS, April 1 (UPI) -- France is looking to emulate a Swedish law in which selling sex is legal but buying and soliciting it is a crime, officials say.

French Social Affairs Minister Roselyne Bachelot told a parliamentary select committee Wednesday she favored a bill proposed by the Socialist Party similar to one in Sweden in which clients, not prostitutes, are fined, Radio France International reported.

"There is no such thing as prostitution which is freely chosen and consenting," Bachelot said. "The sale of sexual acts means that women's bodies are made available, for men, independently of the wishes of those women."

Socialist Member of Parliament Danielle Bousquet said it would send a clear message "you cannot buy someone's body. We have to make this forbidden, as it is in Sweden."

Francoise Gil, sociologist and founder of an association representing prostitutes, Femmes de droit, Droit des Femmes, sees problems with the laws.

"France has a dreadful legal system concerning prostitution, full of contradictions. Because prostitution is tolerated but soliciting is a crime. It's made the milieu of prostitution and the work itself a lot worse," Gil said.

Ethnologist Marie-Elisabeth Handman, co-author of a major report titled "Prostitution a Paris," says a 2003 law has increased the number of pimps rather than accomplished its intended goal, RFI reported.

"The young men who live around (the woods) found it very easy to become pimps of these women. If the morality of all that was to get rid of the pimps, then, no, it's made it worse," Handman said.

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