New French law makes paying for sex illegal

A woman holds a sign calling for the "abolition of sexual slavery" (Reuters)
A woman holds a sign calling for the "abolition of sexual slavery" (Reuters)

A two-year battle to prohibit paying for sex in France has finally come to an end, with the European nation today passing a law prohibiting prostitution.

But instead of targeting prostitutes, the new law will criminalise clients.

Under the new legislation, people are now in danger of receiving a fine of up to €3750 (NZ$6267) if they are caught paying for sex -- and they will also be forced to attend classes that will teach them about the conditions faced by those within the sex industry.

Supporters of the new law say it will help free the 30,000 to 40,000 women involved in France's sex trade from being trafficked, with socialist MP Maud Olivier telling the Associated Press the legislation is of huge significance.

"The most important aspect of this law is to accompany prostitutes [and] give them identity papers -- because we know that 85 percent of prostitutes here are victims of trafficking," he said.

The legislation is also believed to help women get temporary residence in France if they agree to taking up jobs outside of the sex trade.

Those caught paying for sex will first receive a fine of €1500 (NZ$2500), which will more than double should they be caught on more than one occasion.