France declares war on the world’s oldest profession.
Now France, upending a century’s old tradition of tolerance, is contemplating making patronizing prostitution a crime.
What’s the rationale? According to this report in France 24, “The new proposals would help demystify the trade, say the authors. ‘It would reaffirm the principle of non-commercialization of the human body and bury the myth that prostitution is simply the “oldest trade in the world” once and for all.'”
The article gives ample space to the other side of the argument. Ironically, it is the French Prostitutes Union STRASS that has come out most strongly against the proposed legislation. Pimps would be the only winners, spokesperson Mistress Gilda said. In fact, she points out in the article that the law will do what all such laws do, criminalize the behavior and thus open the way for organized crime to take over.
Such legislation can be seen as make-work for police unions and provide fodder for prisons, but there is probably little evidence that it has any effect on the behavior of those involved, especially those seeking out such services “Prostitution is not going to vanish,” Mistress Gilda said, “And these pimps would be the only winners.” Here’s some more from the article:
Until 1946, Paris had a flourishing sex industry based around a number of established brothels, or maisons closes, which benefitted particularly from the patronage of the occupying German army during World War II. A 1946 law closed the estimated 1,400 brothels across France, ending a system that had regulated prostitution in the country since 1804. France became officially “abolitionist” in 1960, when it signed the 1949 UN Convention on the Suppression of Trafficking and the Exploitation of Prostitution.
In 2003, then interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy passed a law banning “passive solicitation”, a vague term aimed at curbing a manner of “dress and attitude” that advertises sexual services. ‘We want to pay our taxes’ If a law to criminalise sex clients is passed, France would join Norway, Iceland and Sweden, where clients face a fine of six months’ pay and six months in jail. But in Germany, sex workers get the same state benefits as other taxpayers – a system that Mistress Gilda said would be welcomed by the prostitutes working in France.
Fresh from starting a war in Libya and causing a mini-genocide in the Ivory Coast, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has seemingly turned his sights on French sexual commerce. Once know for sexual tolerance, France is now to join the ranks of countries that have passed laws denying the expression of human nature. Whatever one thinks of prostitution, it is hard to deny that it will persist no matter what kind of legislation is aimed against it.