It’s moving in that direction:
On December 4th, the lower house of parliament voted [268 to 138] to make prostitution a crime for those who pay for sex, subject to a fine of €1,500 ($2,030) for a first offense and €3,750 thereafter. “I don’t want a society in which women have a price,” said Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the women’s minister. She wants nothing less than to “abolish” prostitution in France. With Germany having second thoughts about its decision over a decade ago to liberalize the world’s oldest profession, the French have decided to follow Sweden, Finland and Norway in restricting prostitution. Paying for sex is not now illegal, although brothels, soliciting and pimping are.
However, the bill must pass the Senate and be signed by the president before it becomes law, a process that could take several months. Christopher Dickey calls the debate “ferociously ideological in ways that are very French indeed”:
While just about everyone denounces the trafficking of women and men treated as virtual slaves, much of the most passionate debate has focused on the cases of independent sex workers, a relatively small minority, and whether they have the right to use their bodies – and sell their services – as they see fit. The free-wheeling publication Causeur provoked sensational headlines when it issued a manifesto signed by hundreds of self-proclaimed “bastards” – all men – warning the government, “hands off my whore.” “We love liberty, literature and intimacy,” it claimed, “and when the state concerns itself with our asses, all three are in danger. … Against the ‘sexually correct,’ we intend to live like adults.”
But the most intense debate is not so much with or against macho posturing, it is among France’s feminists. The daily Le Monde discerned four or five distinct currents: