03/19/2013 05:57 pm ET

Public Prostitution Could Become Legal In Paris If Proposal To Repeal Solicitation Law Passes

Sexual solicitation may be illegal in France's capital city, but it might not stay that way for long.

If a proposal to repeal a 10-year-old solicitation law passes the French Senate latter this month, public prostitution could become legal in Paris, the Local notes.

Proposed by Sen. Esther Benbassa, a member of the French Green Party, the legislation seeks to overturn a law introduced in 2003 by then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy that made it illegal for sex workers to wear revealing attire and solicit customers in a public place.

As the Economist notes, prostitution is not currently illegal in France, but many of the activities associated with the trade, such as solicitation and brothels, are against the law.

Explaining her motives behind the proposal during a protest Saturday, Benbassa said that the law has only served to isolate workers, rather than dismantle prostitution networks, Huffington Post France reports. If it had achieved the later, she would be in favor of the law; however, Benbassa said, the legislation has achieved the opposite effect.

About 250 people gathered for a demonstration in Paris over the weekend -- one of several rallies that has taken place since the law was first enacted -- to demand that the law be repealed. STRASS, the trade union for sex workers, claims the existing legislation leads to increased violence and reduced rates, according to HuffPost France.

The proposed repeal will likely pass the French Senate when it is brought up for discussion on March 28, since it has received support from both President François Hollande and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who serves as France's minister of women's rights.

Hollande first expressed his interest in eliminating Sarkozy's law during his bid for the French presidency last March. In an interview with French-language blog, Hollande said the law "ultimately translates into less health care access and social services for prostitutes."

While Vallaud-Belkacem initially told Le Journal du Dimanche she wanted to "see prostitution disappear" when she was first appointed to her post in June, she has since changed her tune and confirmed that Hollande's campaign pledge will be executed.

Speaking to Le Parisien, Vallaud-Belkacem revealed that a repeal of the solicitation law will be required as part of her plan to develop more comprehensive legislation to govern prostitution and sex trafficking.

The nation's parliament moved to ban prostitution across the board in 2011, but the measure was unsuccessful.



Paris In The Early 1900s