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Journal of Contemporary European Studies Vol. 12, No.

2, 153±163, August 2004

The Debate on Prostitution in France: A Con¯ict between Abolitionism, Regulation and Prohibition
LILIAN MATHIEU Â Paris X, Nanterre, France Universite

ABSTRACT A heated debate on the issue of prostitution took place during the summer of 2002. Intellectuals, politicians, feminist activists, associations supporting prostitutes, and associations against prostitution opposed their con¯icting ideas about prostitution and the measures that should be introduced in order to manage it or, on the contrary, to abolish it. Although it was provoked by the measures against soliciting announced in June 2002 by the new Minister for the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, this debate did not come out of the blue. It brought into con¯ict views that were already established and fuelled oppositions between groups that, in the past, had already voiced their disagreement. The aim of this article is to present the debate, focusing on the following aspects: the law on prostitution in France; disagreements between associations on the services that should be available to prostitutes; the intellectual debate between advocates of `prostitution-as-a-job' and those who condemn `prostitution-as-slavery'; and, ®nally, the new policies recently adopted in other European countries, and the changes in prostitution itself, characterised by a severe deterioration in prostitutes' living conditions and by the appearance of international prostitution rings.

The Control of Prostitution In 1960, France rati®ed the 1949 UN Convention for the Suppression of Traf®c in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. In so doing, it joined the abolitionist countries, with, as an immediate consequence, the abolition of the regulation of prostitution which was still in force at the time. Although the Marthe Richard Law (1946) had made state-run brothels (maisons closes) illegal in France, prostitutes were nevertheless still obliged to register on public health ®les and to undergo regular gynaecological tests. In 1960, prostitution as such disappeared from the law, and the individuals involved in it had the same obligations as the rest of the population in terms of the declaration and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Abolitionism, as it is understood in France, recognises that both prohibition and administrative regulation are harmful to prostitutesÐin the ®rst case, forcing them underground, and in the second case, giving them a degrading status. Consequently, the French version of abolitionism prefers to see commercial sex as
 Paris X, Nanterre, 200, av de la Correspondence Address: Lilian Mathieu, Universite  publique 92001 Nanterre Cedex, Paris, France. Email: lilian.mathieu@u-paris10.fr Re
ISSN 1478±2804 print/ISSN 1478±2790 online/04/020154-11 ã 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/1460846042000250864

it nevertheless represents it in an extremely negative manner. The state's refusal to involve itself in prostitution is. and therefore refuses to make prostitution an offence. The second layer of measures aimed at prostitution consists of social work. Their mission is essentially to monitor the world of prostitution in order to detect any changes that might lead to prosecution (the arrival of women under the control of a network of pimps. In keeping with the preamble of the 1949 Convention. Secondly. OCRTEH). the vice squad). which makes the prevention of pimping and the rehabilitation of its victims a priority. the intimidation of competitors in order to drive them away.154 L. created on 31 October 1958. which focuses on the prevention of soliciting and pimping. for the last 10 years or so. it forbids third parties from pro®ting from prostitution (pimping).2 and the basic right to engage in this private activity. Therefore. this abolitionism is based on a pragmatic approach. The fact that the different pimping offences appear in the section of the Penal Code on the infringement of human dignity indicates one of the main ambiguities of the French law: although it is conscious of the unintended consequences that a prohibitionist policy would produce. a matter of individual choice and responsibility. prostitution is considered by France to be `incompatible with the dignity and worth of the person' and to endanger `the well-being of the individual. Police activity. outside the realm of state intervention. Its jurisdiction covers the whole country and it is responsible for all the international pimping cases. the control of prostitution in France takes place in three main areas: the police. On this basis. They do this by de®ning prostitutes as socially maladjusted. with the person in prostitution at the centre of its concerns: leaving this activity in a legal vacuum in effect preserves its informal nature and allows people who have no other resources to survive. victims of psychological trauma in childhood. This is the responsibility of social workers. which is a minor criminal offence and aggravated pimping (in an organised gang. leaving them free to give up or resume their activity according to their needs. In accordance with the 1949 Convention. in the form of the offence of soliciting. the family and the community'. etc. assist and manage all the police services that are involved in the prevention of pimping. First. and for this reason. Mathieu a private affair. or accompanied by torture or barbaric acts) which is a serious crime. who are also responsible for the dif®cult task of resolving the contradiction between the moral condemnation of prostitution. leaving it with a relatively hazy legal status. however. the state subsidises several . public health. in cities. is the responsibility. This takes two distinct forms: straightforward pimping.1 Rather than responding to concerns of morality or public health. Âpression de la traite des e la re Its mission is to inform. The police also have a Central Of®ce for the Prevention of Human Traf®cking (Of®ce central pour Ãtres humains. in particular by means of an international information service linked to Interpol and of a database of pimps. all measures must be taken to prevent women and men from entering prostitution and to encourage the rehabilitation of those who are already involved. the state retains the right to prevent the morally offensive public expression of prostitution. lacking autonomy over their thoughts and actions. limited in two signi®cant ways. which is considered a `blight on society'. the extortion of prostitutes who are made to pay for their patch on the street.). while at the same time. social work and. of the Social Protection Units (known on the streets as `les moeurs'.

which were made by a number of members of parliament in the late 1980s. mis®red. and most of those which had been set up were eventually closed down in the 1990s. which is recognised in theory. were revived by the appearance of AIDS in the early 1980s. The relative lack of interest in social rehabilitation and their refusal to perceive prostitutes as maladjusted quickly provoked the anger of abolitionist organisations and caused tension with social services. Since 1990. they interpret prostitution as. a consequence of emotional neglect and trauma suffered in early childhood. For this reason. Social services and abolitionists share the same negative representation of prostitution. services.Prostitution in France 155 organisations with the speci®c aim of helping prostitutes or those `in danger of becoming prostitutes'. this psychopathological approach enables the ambiguity inherent in abolitionism to be overcome: the freedom to prostitute oneself. is denied in practice by the psychological discrediting of those who try to exercise this freedom. Although it was originally planned that Âpartement. have a number of distinctive characteristics. responding to the most urgent needs of the most fragile groups in prostitution. and because they are involved in the provision of health.3 These organisations. This discrediting enables social workers to exercise a form of moral guardianship over prostitutes. which refer to themselves as `community health organisations'. above all. Some of them are public bodies: Prevention and Âvention et de re Âadaptation sociale. Challenges to Abolitionism The appearance of community health organisations radically shook the sector of medical and social intervention in the ®eld of prostitution. ®rstly. Their experience on the street is understood to endow them with a unique ability to conduct preventative work with their co-workers. the public authorities have been subsidising a small number of organisations (currently seven) that provide preventative services in French cities. and to provide support for the social and professional rehabilitation of those who wish to leave prostitution. SPRS). Public health concerns. the premise that prostitution is irrational legitimises their claim to be in a better position than the prostitutes themselves to de®ne the best way for them to lead their lives. As mentioned above. rather then social. without any intention of rehabilitation. Employing a psychological and psychoanalytical framework. which had moved into the background from 1960 onwards. by drawing . there have never actually been more there would be an SPRS in every de than 10. Demands for a return to compulsory health checks for prostitutes. as preventative policies were favoured. these organisations appear out of step with the principle of the 1960 laws. Rehabilitation Services (Services de pre Their mission is to ®nd and take in people in danger of entering prostitution and to offer them assistance. even if they are not con®ned solely to this role. including the employment of staff involved in prevention who are themselves either former prostitutes or still working as prostitutes. Consequently. The fact that they became the most active critics of abolitionist principles made their activities even more controversial. a symptom. As a result of this distinctive personnel (which gives them a more positive understanding of prostitution). the activities of social workers are mainly geared towards rehabilitation. most of the social provision for prostitutes is carried out by private organisations. to provide medical and social services to people in prostitution.

Other ®ndings which are highlighted are the dif®cult situation of those who are illegally present on French soil. relatively unknown to them. In addition to `classic' prostitution by women referring to themselves as `traditional prostitutes'. Mathieu attention to parts of the prostitution world poorly understood by social work agencies prior to the epidemic. Caught in a culture of competition that opposes them to social services. or even illusory. in the late 1980s. which is manifested on a daily basis in the many forms of discrimination responsible for the `exclusion' of prostitutes. Taking into consideration the fact that this activity allows the people they work with to support themselves and that the majority of them do not want to (or cannot) stop. AIDS revealed important changes that had taken place in prostitution since the early 1980s. The mediumor long-term perspective of rehabilitation is meaningless and unattractive to individuals in dire circumstances and for whom the most important goal is to ®nd the money to feed their drug addiction or to pay for a hotel room as quickly as possible. there were now transvestitesÐwhose numbers had risen rapidlyÐand young women in very dif®cult circumstances. accommodation (half are in temporary accommodation: bed and breakfast or lodgings) and personal safety (a third of the respondents had been attacked in the 5 months prior to the study). community health organisations have focused on the theme of insecurity in an active attempt to rede®ne prostitution. but rather fully recognising its existence in order to give them access to the same rights and social bene®ts as . working casually as prostitutes and therefore widely referred to as `occasional prostitutes'. since it cannot meet the immediate and urgent needs of people for whom commercial sex is a means of survival. but which should be recognised as equally worthy. In this view. and in response to demands from their abolitionist opponents to prove the effectiveness of their approach and their methods. as well as that of transsexuals. This has resulted in a number of publications. as abolitionists claim.5 The study highlights the insecurity of women and men prostitutes in terms of social security (61% of the 355 respondents have none). seeing it in terms of `exclusion' rather than social and psychological maladjustment. The social workers' typical psychotherapeutic approaches were inappropriate to the needs of these newer groups. The AIDS prevention organisations' focus on meeting prostitutes' immediate needs without the ulterior motive of rehabilitation is accompanied by a new understanding of the status of commercial sex. were the main `clients' of social workers.4 Whereas `traditional prostitutes'. and secondly. it is no longer prostitution itself which is the problem. one of the most important being a study conducted in 1995 of prostitutes' living conditions with the support of epidemiologists and sociologists working with the users of six French AIDS prevention groups. 37% of the respondents are believed to be addicted to at least one substance (which would match the ®gures obtained from other surveys). who are relatively well integrated socially and have relatively good living conditions. the goal of leaving prostitution tends to be secondary. who are subject to further stigmatisation as a result of the mismatch between their feminine appearance and of®cial masculine identity.156 L. Moreover. by constructing new representations of prostitutes and the causes of their unfortunate condition. these organisations tend to perceive prostitution as a jobÐa job which currently lacks legal status. Putting an end to their dif®culties and suffering does not entail putting an end to their activity. transvestites and occasional prostitutes were. and whose fear of deportation forces them almost into hiding. but rather its stigmatisation. often drug addicts.

brought about by the appearance of community health groups. in effect legalising brothels. The demand for the recognition of their full `citizenship' leads to a radical reassessment of the role of the welfare state: it is no longer expected to provide the means for people to give up a deviant activity. but to guarantee the freedom to engage in this activity and to provide social and health services to those who do so. The recurring demand for prostitutes' access to social security as prostitutes is an example of this: because their activity is not classed as a real `job'. although it did not ratify the 1949 Convention. the failure to implement the relevant laws had allowed pimps to turn prostitution into a lucrative market with international repercussions: organised gangs moved in to ®ll the Dutch windows with foreign women. but must instead resort to `arrangements' sometimes of dubious legality (for example. The new Dutch law. Commercial sex is thereby accorded the . claiming to defend `sex workers'' `rights'. they see prostitutes as autonomous individuals. usually illegally present. whose ability and right to decide independently to continue their activity or give it up. The changes in the representation of prostitutes. prostitutes can bene®t from employment contracts and access to most of the rights and protection guaranteed to workers. This idea that it is possible to put an end to the unfortunate condition of prostitutes by normalising their activity and shifting responsibility for their problems onto a society marked by Puritanism is not con®ned to French `community' organisations. must be recognised. Local authorities can of®cially authorise the opening of brothels. was intended to allow the state to regain control of this `market'. foreigners without residents' or work permits. Managing a brothel. The insecure living conditions of many of them are attributed to their stigmatisation. which came into force on 1 October 2000. but an of®cially recognised and regulated commercial activity. on condition that the managers respect certain regulations. The repeal of the 1911 law. when their real income should in theory make them ineligible).8 Brothels and pimping had been illegal in The Netherlands since 1911. Nonetheless. prostitutes cannot bene®t directly from social security cover. is in fact the ®rst example of an abolitionist country returning to a (new) form of regulationism. particularly in relation to health and safety. It was preceded during the 1970s and 1980s by the activities of organisations inspired and supported by some strands of feminism.Prostitution in France 157 the rest of the population. or non-consenting. This merits attention.7 It has recently been translated into practice in the new Dutch legislation on prostitution. but also because it provides evidence of a new conceptualisation of prostitution and constitutes one of the ®rst serious challenges to abolitionism. For their part. whereas the widespread use of condoms is used to support the construction of prostitutes as responsible and concerned with public health. are signi®cant. Challenging the construction of prostitutes as socially maladjusted and trying to resolve through prostitution the psychological effects of a traumatic childhood. especially when the prostitutes employed are underage. It can lead to prosecution only in the case of a breach of regulations. and thereby pro®ting from the prostitution of another person. The legal vacuum in which prostitution is left by the principles of abolitionism is therefore criticised for stigmatising prostitutesÐby condemning them to a form of social inexistenceÐand for damaging their safety and well-being. not only because of the passionate debates it provoked throughout the whole of Europe (and especially in France). claiming the RMI 6 (minimum state bene®t). is no longer an offence.

Prostitution is forbidden where it is not based on the freely given consent of the person involved. which is particularly highly developed in The Netherlands. as it is constructed in the law. refers above all to foreign women whose presence is illegal. this recognition is intended to improve prostitutes' living and working conditions and to encourage their social integration by `normalising' their activity. their return to their country of origin is nonetheless the intended outcome. Those who fall into this latter category are in particular the women who are victims of international traf®cking. have criticised community health groups for participating in the legitimisation of commercial sex. prostitution is morally unacceptableÐand cannot be improvedÐin that it `denies the human person. In their endeavour to defend the principles of the 1949 Convention. whether or not they have been forcibly brought into the country to work as prostitutes. the new Dutch policy is also tied up with the control of immigration. according to abolitionists. One of the main innovations of the Dutch reform is to make a distinction between `free' and `forced' prostitution. `Free' prostitution is accepted and recognised. Mathieu status of a `job'.158 L. infringing their dignity and reducing them to a state of manipulated object'. Disguising itself as a `realist' or `pragmatic' approach to prostitution and to the ®ght against traf®cking in human beings. playing into the hands of international pimps. Although the law permits them to stay in the country while their pimps are tried. the . Social workers. Prostitution as Violence against Women The discourse and practice of AIDS prevention groups since the early 1990s have put on the defensive the French abolitionist movement (whose main representative is currently the Mouvement du Nid. FEDIP) of Prostitution' (Fe and organised the `First European Conference for the Prevention of Prostitution'. Because they aim to improve the living conditions of prostitutes without insisting on their rehabilitation. The control of prostitution becomes enmeshed with the control of immigration. on the grounds of the free use of ones body (allowing its use a source of income). they have been accused by the Mouvement du Nid of `allowing them to ``prostitute themselves better''' and of aiming only to `make prostitution ``more acceptable'' and ``safer'''.12 a manifesto of the movement of resistance to the vague neo-regulationist tendencies attributed to the AIDS prevention groups. The Mouvement du Nid has been the main force of opposition to community health groups and has spearheaded the remobilisation of abolitionists. Any explanation that does not ®t this representationÐfor example.9 In contrast.10 According to the Mouvement du Nid. whose monopoly on aid to prostitutes has been threatened. It instigated the creation in 1996 of a `European Federation for the Disappearance Âde Âration europe Âenne pour la disparition de la prostitution.11 It funded the publication in 2000 of Le livre noir de la prostitution. as well as organisations working towards the abolition of prostitution. A number of observers have pointed out that the category `forced prostitution'. the claim by prostitutes that they `choose' this activityÐis immediately undermined by voicing the suspicion that they are `manipulated' by their pimps or constructing psychological defences. an organisation created in 1946 with its roots in social Catholicism). the only possible explanations for someone prostituting themselves are that they are being forced by a pimp or they have a psychological de®ciency. According to the reform's supporters.

there were social workers. is a crime'. under the control and responsibility. From this point of view. has nonetheless been attenuated by the fear that it will not lead to prostitution disappearing. will stop offering their services. but as an expression of male domination. in June 2002. will stop visiting prostitutes. to humanity'. it draws inspiration from the new Swedish legislation. where their clients can meet them without being caught by the police. states and pimps. who. it cannot be the subject of free choice. positions on prostitution were polarised long before the debate sparked by the rede®nition of soliciting as an offence announced by the Minister for the Interior. Clampdown As we have seen. increasingly tends to refer to the abolition of prostitution itself and not of its regulationÐis not only defensive. They have publicly called for the state and the European Union to put in place an effective policy to ®ght against prostitution. Its positive reception by French abolitionist organisations. Some assessments of the impact of the new law show that many prostitutes have either left Sweden for neighbouring countries or have left the streets in order to work in more discreet locations (such as apartments.Prostitution in France 159 established abolitionist organisations have bene®ted from the support of some strands of feminism which de®ne prostitution as a form of violence towards women. abolitionist organisations and feminists. It is innovative in its demand for the implementation of a more repressive policy towards the perpetrators of what it sees as a crime against women. because of the lack of clients. considered a `model' in this respect. On the one hand. offering money in exchange for sex has been punishable with a sentence of up to 6 months in prison. who de®ned prostitution as violence against women and called for the `Swedish model'. which requires action targeted at men. Since then. and for the bene®t of. not prostitutes. through them. which see it as a ®rst attempt to eradicate prostitution without harming its main victims. AVFT) and the Movement for the Abolition of Prostitution and Pornography (Mouvement pour l'abolition de la prostitution et de la pornographie. nightclubs or bars). It was on the basis of the principle that `treating a person as a commodity. In this.15 that Sweden passed a law in 1999 criminalising the clients of prostitution. The law is based on the dual premise that the clients. which they de®ne as `an insult to women and. Prostitution is no longer de®ned as social maladjustment. but instead placed at the centre of state intervention with the aim of highlighting the fact that they are both guilty and responsible. but simply relocating. legitimising the placing of certain people in the hands of masculine power. prostitutes will be offered social rehabilitation programmes. accompanied by psychological treatment aimed at making those convicted of this offence renounce all future use of prostitutes. Viewed above all as victims.14 These feminists see prostitution as a `system based on the negation of human dignity' and an expression of patriarchy. The radical aspect of the Swedish policy is that it targets clients. put off by the risk of punishment. . the distinction between `free' and `forced' prostitution is unacceptable: since prostitution is inherently a form of slavery. Nicolas Sarkozy. The remobilisation of abolitionismÐa term which.13 The most active actors responsible for bringing together feminists and abolitionists have been the Association against Violence towards Women at Work (Association contre les violences faites aux femmes au travail. under feminist in¯uence. On the other hand. MAPP). and that their behaviour is no longer invisible. with or without their consent.

Russians and Bulgarians who line the streets of French cities. the outcome of which has usually been that French prostitutes have been chased off the streets by their foreign competitors' pimps. Just days after his appointment. having traf®cked her illegally through several countries. . was Nicolas Sarkozy. This massive appearance of foreign women. and in order to respond to NIMBY (`not in my backyard')Ð type demands. which came to power after the elections in spring 2002.160 L. slashing prices and agreeing to unprotected sexÐhas led to violent con¯ict. by the climate of insecurity which is spreading in new areas of prostitution. by the used condoms and needles outside their front doorÐnot to mention the sight of prostitutes and their clients having sex right outside their homesÐand. In the highly competitive environment of street prostitution. more generally. force her into prostitution by means of violence and take all her earnings from her. the public reaction to the arrival of these new prostitutes was not con®ned to compassion towards victims of traf®cking and a desire to punish those who exploit them. who quickly threw themselves into programmes of police cooperation with their European neighbours. Following an election campaign dominated by the theme of `insecurity'. often very young and very visible in the urban landscape. It is in this context. the arrival of these new prostitutesÐoften younger and more attractive than the local women. he and a television crew observed a heavy-handed police operation in one of the main areas of prostitution in Paris. Moldovians. factors other than this polarisation of the debates have contributed to the construction of prostitution as a political and contentious issue. One of the central and most in¯uential factors stems from internal changes in the world of prostitution. but also because of the widespread emotional response to the other dramatic conditions of these prostitutes. then sold to an international ring whose members. by the constant comings and goings of cars outside their windows. The notion of a `white slave trade'. abused. Mathieu there were AIDS prevention groups and prostitutes calling for the recognition of their `work' in a manner similar to that introduced in The Netherlands. The ®gure of the naõ seduced or kidnapped by a pimp. and accused by the latter of constituting unfair competition. immediately provoked a public outcry. the Minister for the Interior in the new rightwing government. mostly from Eastern Europe and clearly in the hands of ma®a-type prostitution rings. 50 years. that a number of politicians decided to act on prostitution in the spring of 2002. These are directly related to the material consequences of the presence of the `Eastern girls' in the urban landscape. Because of its international dimension. ranging from the more ambivalent to the openly hostile. leads to a variety of antisocial or aggressive types of behaviour that mainly affect the local residents. in order to ®ght this new form of organised crime. Worn out by the incessant con¯ict between prostitutes.16 Nonetheless. However. resurfaced in the media. These frequent outbursts of violence between rival prostitutes are not the only problems that the residents in areas with prostitution have to endure: the deterioration in prostitutes' living conditions and the addiction of a relatively high number to hard drugs. as mentioned above. the problem of the `Eastern girls'. could not be ignored by the authorities. The ®rst. as they are called. The late 1990s saw the arrival in a number of French cities of new groups of prostitutes. Other attitudes also surfaced. barely mentioned for Ève young girl. found a new incarnation in the dozens of young Albanians. residents have set up committees and called on the local authorities to remove prostitution and the disturbances it causes from their daily lives.

prostitution became a political issue once more. This suggestion immediately provoked indignation on the left and. A demonstration against the Sarkozy law was organised on 5 November by the Âes de Paris) (as well as various Paris prostitutes' collective (Collectif des prostitue community health groups. but they were still critical of the mobilisation of prostitutes and their supporters. according to the Swedish model. They also opposed the clampdown on prostitution that the Minister for the Interior and local councils had begun. this would be an appropriate way to control prostitution and. or for the `Sarkozy law' to come into force. assistant to the mayor of Paris. the National Collective for Women's Rights (Collectif national pour les droits des femmes) on 10 December 2002. Reactions to this announcement of the bill's more prohibitionist direction were not slow in coming.Prostitution in France 161 this act was a clear signal of his intent: prostitution and the nuisance it causes are criminal matters and should be treated as such. prevent its more shocking public manifestations. many of them from the AIDS prevention movement. and during the summer. took the initiative and. Caresche criticised the `cynicism' of the proposal and declared himself in favour of criminalising clients of prostitutes. was the ®rst to cause outrage by suggesting in the press that the brothels should be reopened. at the same time. the Greens and Act-Up). on the part of the Socialist Christophe Caresche. with penalties of imprisonment and heavy ®nes. during the  ans was the ®rst town summer.18 Unable to wait either for a decision on one or other of these options. the mayors of several cities.17 would be reintroduced. The slogan was `No to the system of prostitution! No to the Sarkozy bill! Yes to a . demonstrating the spread of law and order ideology beyond the traditional political cleavages. introduced bye-laws prohibiting prostitution. Franc majority Union pour la majorite Ë oise Pana®eu. mainly masked. But it was the opening of the parliamentary debates on the domestic security bill in the autumn that gave their protests a national dimension. This time. also prohibited prostitution in a large section of the city. the supply will dwindle'. The demonstration was widely covered by the media. The minister announced immediately that the bill on domestic security that he intended to table in the autumn would contain measures allowing the deportation of foreign prostitutes convicted of soliciting. after several years on the back burner. The inability of prostitutes. These local measures gave rise to demonstrations by prostitutes in several cities. If we take away the demand. in particular Lyon. It brought together hundreds of prostitutes. but also fervently criticised by abolitionists and feminists. feminists and abolitionists to unite in opposition to the `Sarkozy law' was most spectacularly proven during the demonstration organised by one of the main French feminists groups. Orle council to take such measures. whose demands (including the of®cial recognition of prostitution as a job) they found unacceptable and whose leaders they suspected of being manipulated by pimps. and that the offence of passive soliciting. in particular. sometimes under pressure from local residents' committees. When the Socialist-controlled city council in Lyon. According to Pana®eu. as well as a number of civil society activists. removed from the Penal Code in 1994. on the grounds of straightforward logic: `There are prostitutes because there is a demand. a further dimension was added. it was a leftwing council that had embarked on a strict anti-prostitution policy. responsible for security in the city. Metz and Aix-enProvence. Rightwing UMP (parliamentary  pre Âsidentielle) deputy. followed by Strasbourg.

Marie-Victoire Louis (L'Humanite 2002) argued that it `is the touchstone of the patriarchal system'. relations between prostitutes and police of®cers have become much more strained. which went through several prostitution districts in Paris and consisted of several hundred demonstrators behind a banner proclaiming that `human beings are not commodities' was met by about 30 masked prostitutes giving out lea¯ets criticising what they saw as feminist hostility towards them. slavery). Parliament passed by a huge majority the Domestic Security Law. Catherine Millet. The debate reproduced the polarisation of views on prostitution presented earlier (work vs. The ®rst prison sentences for prostitutes were handed down in the spring. there is a two-part fear that many prostitutes are leaving the street. the lawyer. Opposition to the reintroduction in the law of passive soliciting was therefore fundamentally divided and incapable of uniting around a common cause. and the sociologist. stated in the national daily Âration that `these feminists who fought for the right to control their newspaper Libe own bodies deny us this right on the grounds that we would use it to make money.162 L. or private ¯ats) where they will be controlled by pimps. On the streets. nightclubs. On the same day. supporters for prostitutes' demands include intellectuals who advocate a `libertarian' conception of sexual behaviour. as well as the deportation of foreign prostitutes convicted of this offence. This made the Minister for the Interior's job easier. the philosopher. which instigates a 2-month prison sentence and 3. where they are no longer welcome. The impact of the law on public health also needs to be highlighted: by creating a permanent state of anxiety on the streets and by making working . In addition to this. In fact. This debate was narrowly con®ned to intellectual circles and took the classical form of an exchange of opinion in the major national newspapers. Daniel Borillo Âration 5 July 2002) defended the `Right to prostitute oneself'. While feminists. and other women writers and artists (Le Monde 9 January 2003) called for `spaces for free Á le Halimi (Le Monde 31 July prostitution'. and the lawyer. On the other hand. abolitionists and `prostitutes' rights' activists were at each others' throats. the lawyer. (Libe Elisabeth Badinter (Le Monde 31 July 2002) demanded that we `let prostitutes speak'. Those who carry on soliciting on the street will increasingly do so in isolated areas. and many organisations have voiced their fears that their aid work will be much more dif®cult now that prostitutes are going underground as a result of these repressive measures. We must ask ourselves who are our friends and who are our enemies'. the prostitute responsible for the recently formed group `France Prostitution'. Gise 2002) countered that prostitution is `the epitome of the non-power of a woman  20 February over herself'. in this case cleavages inherent in feminist thought on sexuality: advocates of the abolition of prostitution mainly consist of feminists concerned with issues of domination and violence. Marcela Iacub. Claudia. On the one hand. The new law was passed in the autumn and came into force in early 2003. where they will be more exposed to attacks.750 Euro ®ne for passive soliciting. in order to conduct their business in indoor premises (such as bars. Other possible alternatives were not really able to make themselves heard. writer. One of the most remarkable aspects of the debate surrounding the `Sarkozy law' is that it quickly became divorced from the issue of the law itself and from the mobilisation of organisations to take the form of a debate between intellectuals on prostitution itself. this debate between intellectualsÐand especially between intellectuals who claim to be feministÐalso seems to have crystallised previously existing cleavages. Mathieu world without prostitution!' The march.

Mathieu. 472±490. 2003. including dress or posture. living conditions. criticising `the leagues of virtue that fanatically demonise prostitution' and are `responsible for the worrying conditions in which prostitutes live and work'. On the new Dutch law. on the whole. Âpide Âmie et de sa On these organisations. 15 May 2000. pp. Pryen. are addressed in S. these public health concerns. Prostitution et sida. 1996. `Conditions de vie des personnes prostitue Âpide Âmiologie et de sante  publique.. the International Committee Âes. 2000. 27. 10(1). Mathieu. are. 99±116. Sociologie d'une e prevention. 1997. in other words. see L. Paris: L'Harmattan. taxable. along with alcoholism. 407±416. Mathieu. Socie  es: consequences sur la prevention du A. `by any means. are clearly not on the agenda of a government which has proved in other areas (the clampdown on begging and on the presence of young people in public spaces if they are too visible or too noisy) that it intends to make public order one of the central axes of its policy. 2000) contains two fact that the recently published Dictionnaire critique du fe entries on this topic: the ®rst is written by the Nid activist Claudine Legardinier. European Journal of Women's Studies. special issue `Prostitution. Paris: Belin. The law of 1960 de®nes prostitution as a `blight on society'. Prostitution et socie This conference was disrupted by community health groups. the main `theorist' of the International Committee for Prostitutes' Rights. No. a It should be noted. however. and consideration for the most marginalised and most fragile parts of the population. Paris. pp. 1999 and L. 12 July 2002. that it is above all the distinction in the new Dutch law between `forced prostitution' (to be fought) and `free prostitution' (to be recognised) that French prostitutes and their supporters pick up on. in principle. Quoted in Le Monde. Prostitution is one of the most contentious issues dividing French feminism. No. Passive soliciting. Rennes: PUR. as can be seen by the Âminisme (Paris: PUF. organised by another abolitionist organisation. The brothel system is rejected in favour of a de®nition of prostitution as a profession. in terms of activity. making it an arbitrary tool of repression in the hands of the police. police repression will increase the insecurity of prostitutes and make them less able to insist on the use of condoms by clients who. 2001. VIH'. In the words of Margaretha Wimberg. Outshoorn in this issue and `Debating Prostitution in Parliament: A Feminist Analysis'. `L'espace de la prostitution'. The same groups organised a similar disruption of the conference in May 2000 `The People of the Abyss'. pp. Serre et al. Mobilisations de prostitue `The Emergence and Uncertain Outcomes of Prostitutes' Social Movements'. Translated by Gill Allwood Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 With the exception of taxation: the pro®ts from prostitution. Revue d'e Revenu minimum d'insertion. 8(4). The differences between the various categories of women and men prostitutes. On these various organisationsÐand on the most important of them. a state bene®t for people who are socially excluded and which gives subsequent rights to social security. Une approche sociologique de la prostitution de rue. pp. p. 1996. 2001. However. Âte  (journal of the Mouvement du Nid). 116. see J. tuberculosis and homosexuality. and the second by Gail Pheterson. 38. Á entrer en re  sisitance contre l'Europe proxe  ne Á te' (1999) and the manifesto `Le corps n'est `Appel a pas une marchandise'. 44. refuse. quoted in the `Appel Á entrer en re  sisitance contre l'Europe proxe  ne Á te' (1999). . 29±50. 2000. exposure to HIV and relation to health. Stigmate et Âtier. published by the Nouvel Observateur. publicly soliciting another in order to incite him into sexual relations in exchange for payment or a promise of payment' was removed from the Penal Code in 1994 because of its imprecision. me Âte  contemporaine.Prostitution in France 163 conditions less secure. European Journal of Women's Studies. 100 questions pour comprendre'. Prostitution et socie Âte Â. and for Prostitutes' Rights (ICPR)Ðsee L. No. like all revenue. Albin Michel. 2000. La Fondation Scelles. Swedish Minister for Gender Equality.