A law has been passed by the French MPs that makes it illegal to pay for sex and fines of up to €3,750 (£3,027, $4,274) are put on those buying sexual acts. Those found guilty would also have to attend classes to learn about the difficulties faced by prostitutes.
The controversial legislation has taken more than two years to be passed due to differences between the two houses of parliament over the issue.
Strass sex workers’ union members say that the law will affect the livelihoods of France’s sex workers, estimated to number from 30,000 to 40,000.
Catherin Stephens who is an activist with the UK-based International Union of Sex Workers, and a sex worker herself, states criminalization makes those in the industry “much more likely to have to accept clients who are obscuring their identity, which benefits people who want to perpetrate violence.”
Amnesty International also says that laws against buying sex “mean that sex workers have to take more risks to protect buyers from detection by the police.”
Supporters of the law feel differently however. Anne-Cecile Mailfert, the president of the Women’s Foundation in France, says the law helps sex workers better able to seek police protection if required.