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Femen members in topless protest at French Senate

Screengrab Public Sénat

Feminist protest group Femen interrupted a debate in the French Senate on Thursday with a trademark topless protest over its decision earlier this month to scrap legislation that would make it a crime to hire prostitutes.

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“Are you pimps or senators?” the four Femen protesters shouted at the senators, before being removed.

The activists were referring to a Senate committee’s July 9 decision to axe measures that would fine would-be clients €1,500 from a bill aimed at combating the sex trade.

The bill was passed by the lower house, the National Assembly, in late 2013 but needed to be approved by the Senate to become law.

The four young women entered the chamber fully-clothed and sat silently while the Senate discussed the issue of undocumented immigrants, when the Femen protesters suddenly removed their t-shirts, revealing the slogan “are you pimps or senators?” scrawled across their bodies.

Security had some difficulty removing the women, causing Senate President Jean-Pierre Bel to bellow into the microphone, “Well, catch them!”

The Senate meeting continued as usual after the protest

The women were later released after they had given their names to the police.

Created in 2008 in Ukraine, Femen has a strong presence in France, where it has gained notoriety for its members’ topless demonstrations in protest over sexism, homophobia, prostitution and religion.

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