France May Outlaw Soliciting Prostitution

Some French lawmakers want to make it illegal to solicit prostitutes. Their argument: all prostitution supports sex trafficking.

According to the Guardian, neither soliciting nor prostitution is illegal in France, though pimping and operating a brothel are. Supporters say the proposed ban, which wouldn't come up for a vote until 2012, is necessary because 80% of sex workers in France are trafficking victims. Social affairs minister Roselyne Bachelot goes even further:

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

Many sex workers would disagree with her, but at least a ban on soliciting and not prostitution itself wouldn't punish them directly. Still, from an American vantage point, the debate is a bit surprising — aren't these the liberated French? If they did outlaw soliciting prostitution, they'd be one of just four European countries to do so (the others are Sweden, Norway, and Iceland). But maybe Europe's having a prudish moment right now — according to the Times, the once nudist-friendly city of Barcelona is about to pass an ordinance imposing a $700 fine for public nakedness or improper dress. Not everyone is in favor — one city councilor says, "You will see affluent joggers every morning in the skimpiest of clothing. Will the police pursue them?" Unclear — but it seems those anything-goes folks on the Continent are getting a little more strict.

France May Make It Illegal To Pay For Sex [Guardian]
Too Much Of A Sweeping View Nudges Barcelona To Shed A Law [NYT]

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