Members of the French union of sex workers (Strass, its acronym in France) have started protesting the”repressive” bill passed by the country’s MPs which makes it illegal to pay for sex; thereby imposing fines of up to €3,750 (£3,027, $4,274) for those buying sexual acts.
The demonstrators outside parliament in Paris, numbering about 60, carried banners and placards one of which read:
“Don’t liberate me, I’ll take care of myself”.
On Tuesday, the country’s National Assembly approved a new law that proponents say will protect sex workers by shifting the burden of the offense onto clients, but some prostitutes are crying foul.
The law comes after more than two years of political wrangling, spurring heated debates – even among prostitutes – on the controversial topic.
The motion, which is aimed at helping sex workers quit the trade, was passed by 64 votes to 12 with many MPs absent.
The offense carries a fine of 1,500 euros ($1,700). Repeat offenders could be fined up to 3,750 euros ($4,260).
Those convicted would also have to attend classes to learn about the conditions faced by prostitutes.
BBC reported that Sweden was the first country to criminalise those who pay for sex rather than the prostitutes, introducing the law in 1999.
Other countries have since adopted the so-called “Nordic model”: Norway in 2008, Iceland in 2009, and Northern Ireland in 2014. Earlier this year, the European parliament approved a resolution calling for the law to be adopted throughout the continent.