Statement: Congratulations to sex workers in France!

On Tuesday 8 July 2014, the French Senate rejected proposals to criminalise sex workers’ clients. The Select Committee considering the proposal consulted sex workers and other organisations over several months and found that people were alarmed about the danger caused to sex workers. The Committee received compelling evidence that clients, anxious about being fined, could force sex workers into isolation where they would be at increased risk of violence. The French police association said that criminalising clients would make it more difficult to dismantle pimping networks as clients would not dare to speak out.The English Collective of Prostitutes congratulates our sisters in France and all who campaigned against this dangerous and discriminatory measure. With their victory, sex workers in France are showing the way, once again, as they did in 1975.

Selma James, our first spokeswoman, wrote recently about our common history:

“The famous prostitutes’ strike launched the modern sex workers’ movement in the west: women had occupied churches first in Lyon and then all over France to protest police arresting and fining them while doing nothing to stop murders and rapes. They formed the French Prostitute Collective and proclaimed: ‘Our children don’t want their mothers in jail.’ Their actions inspired sex workers here to form the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP).”

The victory in France will considerably strengthen campaigning in the UK, where we face a similar proposal. We call on governments everywhere to follow the French example and hear what sex workers have to say about their own safety. We urge all governments to finally reject increased criminalisation of sex work and follow the example of New Zealand where prostitution was decriminalised in 2003 with verifiable success for safety and rights.”

See the statement from the International Committee for the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe here.



Tue, 8 July 2014 ICRSE Coordinator

Victory for sex workers in France!

ICRSE welcomes the withdrawal of the criminalisation of clients of sex workers from the law proposal that will be presented to the French Senate.

In the words of STRASS, the French Union of Sex Workers: “the Senate Select Committee has taken the time to organise real hearings, to listen to all points of view, including those of national and international health and human rights organisations and considered the evidence of the negative impact of the criminalisation of clients of sex workers.  Above all, the Senate Select Committee has taken into account the voices of those first concerned, sex workers themselves.”

This is a great victory for sex workers who have fought tirelessly against this law proposal not only in France but in every country where this dangerous approach has threatened our livelihood and our safety.

ICRSE hope that this victory in France will inspire sex workers to keep fighting for their rights and for organisations and policy-makers supporting the failed Swedish Model to really consider the growing amount of evidence against it, to follow the steps of the French Senate Select Committee and to abandon the criminalisation of clients in favour of the only human rights based approach to sex work: full decriminalisation.”

Contact Strass:

Contact ICRSE:

Communiqué de press du STRASS

Victoire pour les travailleurSEs du sexe ! 

Le STRASS salue le retrait de la pénalisation des clients du texte de loi sur la prostitution qui sera présenté au Sénat.

Au contraire des députés Olivier, Coutelle et Geoffroy, la commission spéciale du Sénat aura pris le temps d’organiser de vraies auditions, d’écouter tous les poins de vue, de prendre en compte les avis des institutions nationales et internationales de santé et de défense des droits humains ainsi que les preuves disponibles sur les effets néfastes de la pénalisation. Surtout, elle aura pris en compte la parole des premièrEs concernéEs, à savoir nous les travailleurSEs du sexe.

Nous continuerons de combattre l’idéologie prohibitionniste qui avec de faux chiffres et amalgames, instrumentalise nos souffrances pour justifier une pénalisation qui ne résoudra en rien les problèmes d’exploitation, de violences et de travail forcé.

Nous exigeons des députés qu’ils renoncent également à la pénalisation des clients, et adoptent le plus rapidement possible la dépénalisation du racolage (en inscrivant à l’ordre du jour la PPL Benbassa votée en mars 2013 si la PPL actuelle devait être enterrée).

Nous exigeons également la régularisation de touTEs les travailleurSEs du sexe sans papiers, le droit au changement d’état civil pour les trans, et une réelle politique de lutte contre la précarité et l’exploitation qui passe par la reconnaissance de nos droits.

Enfin, nous félicitons touTEs les travailleurSEs qui se sont mobiliséEs contre la pénalisation et pour faire entendre leur voix : bravo à vous touTEs ! La mobilisation paie. Nous encourageons touTEs les travailleurSEs à se syndiquer et rejoindre le STRASS pour remporter d’autres batailles comme celle que nous menons actuellement à Toulouse contre l’arrêté municipal interdisant notre présence sur la voie publique.

Contact Strass:

Contact ICRSE:

Prostitution: the Senate rejects the penalization of clients. Uncategorized @ 09 July 2014

16 votes for, 14 against and two abstentions, thirty-six senators on the Committee were thus finally in favour the deletion of article 16, which included 1500 euro fine (3750 in case of recidivism) for consumers of sexual services. Article 17, which combined with the fine an awareness course, was also deleted. “After long debates, and this in all the political groups, we considered that the penalty could degrade the situation of many prostitutes” explained Michelle Meunier, the Rapporteur of the Committee. Loire-Atlantique and the penalty Senator personally, it abstained from voting. “Over our interviews we met many people on the ground who are alarmed about a possible danger.” In five months of meetings and travel, the Commission inter alia auditioned many prostitutes and associations close to them (doctors without borders, Grisélidis, bus of women,.) that are positioned against the criminalisation of clients. Their fear: that girls (the majority of prostitutes are women) are of advantage threatened from the security perspective than health. According to these associations, clients, anxious to be fined, could force girls to isolate themselves in places, with an increased risk of violence and unprotected. Another sensitive point which tipped the Senate balance: the point of view of the police officers of the brigade of repression of Paris (BRP), alarming, in the event of penalty, more difficult to dismantle the networks of pandering, customers not more daring to speak. In the text voted by the Assembly, “allow the passive soliciting and at the same time condemn customers was a distortion of a legal nature” also held Michelle Meunier. A French ambivalence that has a long history on the subject: prostitution in France is neither lawful nor prohibited de facto. Image of this paradox: far prostitutes are penalized and the customers not. In the new text, the protection of prostitutes has also been strengthened, with an “exit course” replaced by a “project of social and professional integration. Concretely, the funds allocated to their accompaniment, originally equipped with 2.4 million euros, will be increased by the seized from the property of pimps. Permission to stay for those who wish to leave prostitution, introduced by the text as voted in the Assembly, will be more 6 months but one year and its conditions of issuance will be further facilitated. These prostitutes will also have priority access to social housing. A proposal that may raise a new outcry among those who voted against these residence permits, arguing that this would be “a call for air” for networks of illegal immigration. “Helping prostitutes out of the networks, to ensure real protection, will help combat networks, allowing victims to speak without fear” was argued Jean-Pierre Godefroy.