Paying for s*x is to become illegal in France after a new law was passed in a clamp down on prostitution.
French MPs have approved legislation that makes payment for s*x illegal and imposes fines of up to €3,750 (£3,025) for those who exchange money for sexual acts.
The bill was tabled in 2013 but the final vote was delayed because of arguments between France’s lower parliamentary chamber and senate.
However, the new law was passed by 64 votes to 12, although many MPs were absent.
It abolishes previous legislation passed in 2003, introduced by then interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, that banned passive soliciting on the street, reversing the legal burden from the s*x worker to the client.
However, opponents have raised fears women will be endangered by the new law as the s*x trade is driven further underground.
Dozens of prostitutes protested outside the assembly building in Paris during the closing stages of the debate.
Around 60 s*x workers carried placards and banners with one reading: “Don’t liberate me, I’ll take care of myself”,according to the AFP news agency.
Socialist MP Maud Olivier, who sponsored the legislation, told the Associated Press: “The most important aspect of this law is to accompany prostitutes, give them identity papers because we know that 85% of prostitutes here are victims of trafficking.”
Prostitutes will be offered temporary work permits and state help if they give up the trade.
The move follows Sweden which was the first country to criminalise those who pay for sex rather than the prostitutes.
Authorities say the number of women on the streets in the prostitution area in Stockholm has dropped since the legislation was introduced.
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