New French Law Could Make It Illegal To 'Look Like A Prostitute' In Public, But You Can Still Be One In Jeans And Sneakers

If you’re looking for sex in the Pigalle, soon you might have to be careful to pick the right person — if new legislation passes, French prostitutes will have to dress like the rest of us. Under this new law, “passive soliciting,” or wandering around 'looking like a a prostitute', would be illegal. You could get arrested for soliciting sex “by any means,” which rules out wearing boudoir-style attire in public. As the Mirror wrote, sex workers may have to resort to wearing casual duds “like jeans and trainers,” which could result in some awkward exchanges in the red light district between those on the prowl for a good time and women just dashing out to the épicerie (that’s the grocer, guys) for a snack in jeans and a pair of kicks.

As it stands now, it’s legal to seek out a prostitute and pay for sex in France, but it’s illegal to solicit sex in public, which creates an incredibly unfair and bizarre power dynamic between hooker and hookee. According to French publication Libération, the proposed bill originally called to reverse the dynamic, imposing a 1,500-euro (about $1,630) fine on those paying for sex and decriminalizing the offer of sex for money. However, the bill, which will see a vote next week, was reworded by senators and replaced with a counterproposal, keeping the status quo of punishing those who solicit sex and leaving it legal to pay for a prostitute. The bill does aim to crack down on pimps and provide assistance to women in search of a different way to make money.

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France’s sex workers’ labor union, STRASS, called the law “a huge step backwards.” Spokeswoman Chloe Navarro said, “It is making criminals of women for how they dress, and victimizing prostitutes for doing their job and aggravating their working conditions.” There are as many as 20,000 to 30,000 prostitutes at work in Paris today. As part of Article 225 of the penal code, the new law would render illegal “the act of publicly soliciting another person for paid sex, by any means, including passive behavior.” So that rules out walking the streets in a pair of killer heels and a feather boa.

No word on whether scantily-clad women who are not prostitutes could face legal action, but I wouldn’t advise taking a late-night walk on, say, the Boulevards of the Marshals in the 18th arrondissement of Paris dressed in a mini skirt and knee-high boots. Just a thought.

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