Partly owing to the huge sex scandal involving former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York earlier this year, the French Parliament will debate a bill to ban prostitution in France on Tuesday.
If passed, it could become law next year.
The bill would make prostitution a crime -- since the Second World War, prostitution in France has been considered a matter of private choice and is legal -- and result in a fine of up to 3,000 euros for clients and up to six months in jail for prostitutes.
According to IBN Live, officials from all political parties have signed a resolution in favor of the change. But while prostitution is legal in France, brothel-owning and pimping are not.
There are said to be 20,000 working prostitutes in France, and many of them are turning out in droves to protest the bill in front of the National Assembly. Strass, the union of sex workers in France, has organized a rally to protest the bill.
Maitresse Gilda, a spokeswoman for Strass, said the cross-party team behind the bill is trying to impose puritanical northern European sexual and moral mores on France, The Guardian reported.
If you spark prohibition you play into the hands of the pimps and mafia networks, she said. This law is just an excuse to clean up the streets and expel the Africans and east Europeans, among others, who work on them. It will push the women into hiding and therefore into more danger.
Guy Geoffroy, an MP from the ruling UMP party, says the ban is necessary as 90 percent of prostitutes are the victims of human trafficking, rather than prostitutes by choice.
From now on, prostitution is regarded from the point of view of violence against women and that has become unacceptable for everyone, Geoffroy said. Today, most are foreigners and part of mafia organizations where they suffer terrible treatment.