The National Assembly of France has passed a bill that will criminalize the purchase of sexual services. This is similar to the law Sweden enacted in 1999.
Although there is still controversy regarding the Swedish law, the Swedish government reports that since the inception of the law, prostitution and the number of foreign women trafficked into Sweden for prostitution has decreased (read more about the Swedish law).
Once the French Senate approves the bill, those convicted of purchasing sexual services will be subject to fines ranging up to 1500 euros. Repeat offenders may incur fines up to 3750 euros. Offenders are also required to attend education and awareness courses on the harmful effects of prostitution. Importantly, the bill also provides social, educational and professional assistance for those seeking to exit the sex trade.
A passing of such a law in France is welcomed, given the inextricable link between human trafficking and prostitution (see previous post). As more and more governments around the world begin to realize that human trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution cannot be separated into distinct entities, the more we empower victims of sexual exploitation to take back control of their own lives. No longer will those who are sexually oppressed be looked upon as merchandise by purchasers or ignored by society. Instead, those who are sexual exploited will be viewed as human beings in need of compassion and viable alternatives and assistance to exit the sex trade.