Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Wednesday 6 April 2016
Under the new law, anyone caught purchasing an act from a sex worker will be fined and required to attend classes on the harms of prostitution.
There would be a €1,500 (£1,200) fine for a first offence, rising to €3,750 for a second, which would also be put on the person’s criminal record. The offender would be forced to attend classes highlighting the harms of prostitution.
The law was passed by 64 votes to 12 with many MPs absent.
The French parliament started debating the bill in 2013, but the final vote was delayed after several hearings owing to sharp divisions between the lower parliamentary chamber and the senate.
The move makes France one of only a handful of European countries to follow the Nordic model of criminalising consumers rather than sex workers. These include Norway and Iceland. Last year, Northern Ireland introduced legislation to make it the only part of the UK where people can be convicted of paying for sex.
The Socialist MP Maud Olivier, who championed the bill in France, said the aim was to “reduce [prostitution], protect prostitutes who want to leave it and to change mentalities”.