Supporters of the bill — the National Assembly — France's lower house of parliament, say it will help fight the pimps and human trafficking networks in France. But the upper house, which rewrote the bill in March maintains that legalizing prostitution defends the people who buy sex from the 40,000 prostitutes in France.
In a statement issued when the draft law was approved, campaign group Mouvement du Nid said:
"France has placed itself at the side of those who prostitute themselves, against those who take advantage of their vulnerability."
But critics of the legislation say criminalizing prostitution will put the problem further underground into the hands of human traffickers.
Meanwhile, a bill aimed at strengthening the fight against prostitution, proposed by Socialist MP Bruno Le Roux, is receiving its first reading at the National Assembly.
Just learnt that though prostitution is legal in France, pimping is illegal.— Naydu Naydu (@Naydu_obayi) June 12, 2015
To strengthen France's "fight against human trafficking and pimping" many amendments to the original law have been made, including blocking Internet sites and any online access to prostitution.
Another amendment emphasizes "the serious issue of minors in prostitution" and says police underestimate the level of child prostitution in France — only six cases were recorded in Paris in 2010.
"However, organizations working on the issue of prostitution argue that these figures completely downplay the reality. Some associations evoke several thousand cases… it seems essential to reform the identification and management of child prostitutes and improve knowledge about this worrying phenomenon," the amendment states.
The bill also calls for better awareness in schools to educate young people about the reality of prostitution in France and its root causes. An investigation by campaign group Mouvement du Nid recently revealed that only 40 percent of young people don't see selling sex as prostitution. Around 20 percent don't believe child prostitution exists in France.
The strengthened bill also calls for France to lead the way in the European Union when it comes to tackling human trafficking:
"…trafficking in human beings is a modern form of slavery, a serious crime and a violation of fundamental rights and reduces people to a state of dependency through the use of threats, violence and humiliation."
There are thought to be between 20 and 40 thousand sex workers in France, with around 80 percent of them from Eastern Europe, Africa, China and South America, many of whom are sold as sex slaves or trafficked in prostitution rings, their pimps in control of their destiny, not the prostitutes themselves…