The prostitution law that penalizes in France since 2016 The client and not the sex worker is "in accordance" with the law. This was decided on Friday Constitutional Council, the highest body of consultation on the constitutionality of French laws, after analyzing a petition of several organizations that asked for its rejection considering that it not only violates personal and business freedoms, but also caused a worsening of the conditions of work and safety of prostitutes.
According to the "wise" of the Constitutional Council, composed among others by former prime ministers Laurent Fabius Y Lionel Jospin, with the law that penalizes the client, the legislators sought, "depriving the procuring of sources of benefits, fight against that activity and against human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation", which are, remember, "criminal activities based on coercion and the slavery of the human being. In this sense, they continue, "the legislators guaranteed a conciliation that is not manifestly unbalanced between, on the one hand, the objective of constitutional value of safeguarding public order and prevention of infractions and the safeguarding of human dignity and, on the other hand, , personal freedom. "
The regulations, which was a campaign promise of the socialist François Hollande which was finally approved in April 2016 after more than two years of debates, gave a turn to the fight against prostitution by not penalizing the sex workers to concentrate on clients, for which it foresees fines of 1,500 to 3,750 euros (for repeat offenders) for hiring the services of a prostitute. Likewise, those penalized may be obliged to follow awareness courses. The law also provides for assistance and accompaniment, including the possibility of obtaining a temporary residence permit, for sex workers who seek to leave prostitution. With the approval of this law, France became the fifth European country to fine clients of prostitutes, an initiative that implemented Sweden for the first time, in 1999.
In April 2018, a report endorsed by the French section of Doctors of the World however, denounced the negative effects of the law on sex workers, who according to the study are now more vulnerable, are forced – due to falling demand and therefore income – to accept more risky practices such as sex without a condom and to practice prostitution in more hidden places, which also entails a greater risk and invisibility. Several organizations and sex workers undertook a legal path to demand the repeal of the law that arrived, last week, to the Constitutional Council, which has now rejected their arguments.
The Constitution, the organism recalls, "guarantees the protection of health to everyone, especially the child, the mother and the old workers". Therefore, he continues, "it is not up to the Constitutional Council to replace the legislator's assessment of the health consequences of prostituted persons (…) while that assessment is not manifestly incorrect." Among those who also rejected the repeal of the law -which counts , according to the surveys, also with a high popular support, of up to 71% of the French- are the majority of the feminist organizations, politicians, groups of doctors and even the Government of Emmanuel Macron.
The Secretary of State for Equality Woman-Man, Marlène Schiappa, had expressed the day before its confidence in which the Council of State maintained a law that, considered, is "good", although it did not close the door to possible "improvements".
"I think you have to fight against networks of prostitution, against this system of prostitution, against all those who take women into prostitution or make them fall into the hands of a network and are deprived of their fundamental freedoms and rights," he said. Schiappa on Thursday to a group of journalists. "However," he continued, "I also listen to the serious organizations that tell us that this law has effectively affected the safety of prostitutes and that they believe that fine the client is not the solution. I can only listen to what prostitutes say and see what is the best way to fight together better against that system and against these networks. But I think this law is good and I want the Constitutional Council keep it. That does not mean that we can not improve what is done in favor of these people, "he added.