Prostitutes demonstrate to protest against their working condition in Lyon
Prostitutes demonstrate to protest against their working condition in Lyon

French legislators will discuss Tuesday a proposal to ban and criminalise prostitution.

The recent police investigation into an suspected call-girl network in the northern city of Lille that allegedly served high-profile clients like Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the latest incident to shake France after a series of sex scandals in the last year.

It seems that as a consequence, attitudes toward prostitution have hardened in France.

Now, a parliamentary group says it wants prostitution banned in France and will Tuesday present a proposition the French parliament.

Socialist MP Danielle Bousquet, UMP (ruling centre right party) MP Guy Geoffroy and the heads of all the political groups in the National Assembly will Tuesday propose the ban of the prostitution saying "we needed to take an important, symbolic and solemn steps" to fight prostitution.

At present prostitution is not illegal in France, although pimping is. However the proposal would see prostitution become a crime punishable by six months in prison and anyone caught buying sex would face a fine of up to €3,000 (£2,600).

There are currently about 20,000 sex workers in France and the new proposition has divided public opinion and organisations.

The parliamentary group insists that the number of groups of prostitutes working in France after being trafficked into the country by criminal networks is increasing. They then spend months being abused and exploited with little money and no legal papers.

"They are fewer and fewer and older and older. Today, most are foreigners and part of mafia organisations where they suffer terrible treatment," Geoffroy said of the sex workers.

They also see prostitution as a form of violence and slavery.

On the other hand, the unions and associations representing French sex workers say their members are providing a "service" requiring a certain savoir-faire and experience.

They also fear that the criminalisation of prostitution would put sex workers under increasing risks, forcing them to work under worse conditions.

Also, a decline in clients would push some to accept having unprotected sex to increase their clientele and thus income, they further argue.