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  1. ITV Report

France passes law against paying for sex

Sex workers have said the new law will make them more unsafe Credit: PA

French lawmakers have cracked down on prostitution with a new law that will make it illegal to pay for sex and introduces fines of up to €3,750 (£3,000) for those who fail to comply.

It makes France one of only a handful of European countries to criminalise the clients of sex workers. Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Britain have also introduced similar laws.

The bill has proved controversial in France, with sex workers warning that it will put them at risk as they will have to operate out of sight of police, meaning they are less protected.

€1,500
Fine for those caught paying for sex on one occasion
€3,750
Fine for repeat offences under the new anti-prostitution law

Around 60 prostitutes and activists staged a protest outside parliament as the bill was debated, with signs reading "I'll take care of myself" and "sex work is work".

Maud Olivier, a social MP behind the new bill, said she hoped that it would lead to a new perception of sex workers as "victims".

"This law is essential to ending the idea that it is normal to buy someone's body," she told AFP news agency.

Those who are working to sell sex disagree, and say they will suffer as a result.

The law will "increase police repression (and) degrade working conditions", one member of the Strass sex workers union said.

More than 300 public figures including writers and actors also opposed the bill in a public letter on the grounds that it was too limiting to citizens' personal freedoms.

Their "scumbag's manifesto" said it was not up to lawmakers to "legislate norms on our desires and our pleasures".