French parliament set to outlaw paying for sex
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Members of France’s lower house were set Wednesday to adopt a final version of a bill that outlaws paying for sex and would penalise prostitutes' clients for the first time.
The law has been championed by France’s Socialist government as a measure to strengthen the fight against prostitution, and comes after almost two and a half years of political wrangling.
Since its first reading in December 2013, the bill has come up for a vote in the National Assembly three separate times.
MPs and senators have struggled to agree on the key component of the measure, which outlaws paying for sex, with fines of 1,500 euros for clients and up to 3,500 euros for repeat offenses.
But Wednesday’s vote in the lower house will be definitive.
Sex workers who oppose the law were scheduled to protest neat the National Assembly on Wednesday. They say it will push prostitution further underground and make them more vulnerable.
France has between 30,000 and 40,000 prostitutes, according to official estimates.
The move to decriminalise prostitution draws its inspiration from Sweden, which has penalised clients since 1999.
Prostitution is legal in France, but prostitutes are often arrested and charged for soliciting in public, which is prohibited.
Brothels, pimping and the sale of sex by minors are also illegal.