Wednesday, April 6, 2016

France Cracks Down on Prostitution with Prosecution

From being a country that once had brothels, France is making some major progress in ending prostitution.  Just today, Wednesday April 6th, 2016, the French Parliament just passed some legislation that would penalize offenders with harsh fines or informational classes.
France is the country with the Eiffel Tower
In the United States, we have had laws that affected the customers as well as the facilitators and organizers accompanied to prostitution.  In California, it is a misdemeanor and a $1000 fine and a maximum of a year in prison.  In France they are fining first time offenders about $1,700 USD (1500 Euros) and more than doubling it for second-time offenders.  Offenders also have the option to take classes instead of paying the fines.

Some sex workers are in protest against the new legislation
This new bill repeals some unsuccessful, old legislation that punished prostitutes more harshly; it just encourage prostitutes to operate on the outskirts of town where there were less police, which created a more dangerous situation for them.  On top of that, France acknowledges that they can't just crack down on prostitution without getting prostitutes some help.  There are tens of thousands of sex workers in the country and they are attempting to provide fully funded training for prostitutes so that they are able to leave their past and make a living.

Do you think France is going about this the right way?  Should customers of prostitution be punished more or less severely?  What do you think about government funded therapy and training for ex-prostitutes?  Or is France's new approach just trimming the weeds?


Juliana Stahr said...

Very interesting post Teague. I do believe France is going about this issue the correct way. I agree with France's decision to provide classes for prostitutes before fining them $1,700. This way, prostitutes can learn about better job opportunities and leave their old lifestyle. This proposition to help prostitutes rather than punish them harshly displays France's desire to help diminish such heinous acts through support. I think through education and more awareness, France can eliminate prostitution. I believe customers of prostitution should be punished more severely. Anyone who contacts a prostitute should be heavily fined or imprisoned as such acts are illegal. I like France's decision to fine more for repeat sex offenders. The fine for a second offense will be more than $4,000 USD. This will largely incentivize sex offenders to stop hiring prostitutes and turn to another career. Government funded therapy might be too costly, but I think training is a better approach. Educating ex-prostitutes and giving them insight about a world without prostitution in my opinion would be more effective. I really appreciate France's acknowledgment to put an end to prostitution as many countries simply let such underground market activity go on. This new bill will do much more than trim the weeds. This will be a real start to diminishing prostitution. In an article entitled "What you need to know about France’s new prostitution law," the author underlined France's desire to help women find an alternate, more healthy job. Overall, I believe France is doing the right thing by punishing the offenders and helping the women who suffer through this harsh lifestyle.


Crystal Lee said...

Honestly, I'd want to hear more from the side of the prostitutes. It's too easy to impose what we think is "right" on the prostitutes, and while I'm fully prepared to admit my lack of knowledge in regard to France's process in establishing the law, one has to wonder how many sex workers they interviewed (fairly, too, without condescension).

That said, it is undeniable that the sex worker industry is ugly, with many people being forced into the industry by desperation; it happens in many countries even today, illegally or not, and prostitution so often means rape.

From the side of sex workers themselves, I agree with Juliana on France's initiative to help, rather than punish, prostitutes themselves; I also agree that the punishment should be focused on the customers and the "pimps," with sex workers themselves being not punished, but helped. However, the alternate view on this is that by assuming sex workers don't want to work in this industry without actually speaking to them, we are automatically victimizing them. So I propose a more nuanced view, where maybe if we legalize and regulate prostitution, we can prevent it from descending back into the horrifying industry it is today.

Horace He said...

I think prostitution is fundamentally tied to desperate times. As long as there are poor people and people willing to pay for sex, somebody will be willing to do prostitution. Thus, I agree with France's stance of helping prostitution.

On the other hand, I do agree with Crystal that looking into legalizing prostitution may end up being the best long term option. Merely punishing prostitution doesn't seem like it's going to be an effective option.

Elliot Quan said...

There are some interesting statistics here about the effects of prostitution legalization. This post cites a study that found an increase in the amount of trafficking in countries that legalized prostitution, yet there remain bad consequences for the actual sex workers when prostitution is criminalized.

Regardless of the above, I'd still favor legalization or decriminalization from an ethics standpoint. In theory it doesn't seem morally unjustified, but it's hard to separate the coerced workers from those who actively seek work. Criminalization simply hurts all workers, while legalization can establish regulatory bodies and decriminalization helps workers to reach out. I'm leaning towards legalization.

Emma Mester said...

I agree with Elliot. From a legal standpoint, I think that prostitution should be completely legal. Of course, I believe that there should be protections and other laws put into place to try to minimize abuse and the spread of disease. Like most things, even drinking, prostitution itself isn't some huge problem, but it can lead to other issues. Like drinking leads to DUIs and deaths, prostitution can lead to rape and the spread of STIs. I think that much like the regulations on drunk driving, prostitution should have regulations but still be legal.
Ethically, I should hope that no person ever feels desperate enough to go into prostitution. I know that is implausible. I hope that there are charities and nonprofits dedicated to education and helping those who feel pressured or forced into prostitution. However, I have read interviews of prostitutes and those in the sex industry, many of whom love their jobs. Some people honestly choose to be prostitutes because they want to. I don't think it is the government's job to say what jobs a person can and cannot hold.

Jared Mayerson said...

I agree with Juliana that this is the best way to fix this problem. Without clients, there will be no prostitution in addition to no human trafficking. If there is no demand for either, both prostitutes and sex traffickers will eventually stop their illegal actions. Targeting the client is also the better way to end this because prostitutes often begin selling sex due to desperate financial reasons while clients purchase sex because they have the money and a high demand. If clients were given legal incentives not to purchase sex, such as a progressive fine, their demand for prostitutes would decrease and instances of prostitution would decrease. However, this does bring up the point that this solution would be leaving financially desperate people without a source of income. Yet, that is another reason why France's solution is a good one: it provides support for prostitutes to leave the profession and find a better life. France's solution both decreases demand and supply, effectively decreasing (and hopefully eventually removing) the problem.