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‘Hands off my whore’ campaign outrages France

© AFP

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-11-17

On the eve of a parliamentary debate on changing laws against prostitution, 343 men have signed a “Manifesto of the bastards”, seeking to block a bill that would outlaw paying for sex.

A “Manifesto of the 343 bastards” against laws seeking to punish prostitutes’ clients has caused an uproar in France amid an intense debate over legislation on buying and selling sex.

The movement's slogan, "Hands off my whore" ("Touche pas à ma pute") echoes the catchcry of a 1971 campaign by 343 women supporting legalised abortion. The men's group opposes government moves to punish the buying of sexual services.

The petition says some of the signatories, who include prominent figures such as author Frederic Beigbeder and lawyer Richard Malka, are men who “have used or are likely to use the services of prostitutes”.

"We do not defend prostitution, we defend freedom," reads their petition, to be published in monthly opinion magazine Causeur in November. "And when parliament gets involved in adopting rules on sexuality, everyone's freedom is threatened."

The text continues, "We consider that everyone has the right to freely sell their charms – and even to enjoy doing so. All together, we declare: Hands off my whore!"

Under current rules, prostitution is legal in France, but soliciting and pimping are prohibited.

A bill to be debated at the end of next month seeks to penalise clients instead of sex workers in a bid to phase out prostitution.

Manifesto condemned

The proposed law would impose a 1,500-euro fine on those paying for sex and would double that if the “John” were caught a second time.

The manifesto was widely condemned on Twitter, while French Minister for Women’s rights and government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem also criticised it on Wednesday.

She said the 1971 manifesto had been signed by women "who demanded to be able to freely decide what to do with their bodies”.
 
“The 343 bastards demand the right to decide what to do with the bodies of others," she said. "I think there is no need for further comment."
 
The Zeromacho network, meanwhile, which groups together nearly 2,000 men fighting against prostitution, also slammed the manifesto.
 
"This reactionary petition claims that wanting to abolish prostitution is 'a war against men'. It's actually the opposite: We Zeromachos maintain that fighting for the abolition of prostitution is first and foremost a fight for equality."

Date created : 2013-10-31

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