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# Robert Conant says :
May 9, 2007 [ 22:39 ]
Excerpt from The Observer:Add your comment
Sunday January 19, 2003
" French working girls lose their privileged role
Paris's sex trade is threatened by a new conservatism... Hannah Godfrey talks to the streetwalkers fighting to save their livelihoods
...Complaints from residents have led to repressive measures, first by a number of mayors, now by central government. The streetwalkers believe the authorities should focus on eradicating mafia networks that use girls as little more than slaves, rather than criminalising women who have chosen to make their living selling sex.
Brothels, where girls had little freedom and were pitifully exploited, were outlawed at the end of the Second World War and, following a campaign by streetwalkers and feminists, there was a crackdown on pimps in the mid-1970s.
This legislation led to a rise in the number of girls working for themselves, bringing them out of the underworld. In 1994 the law under which a man living with a prostitute risked being imprisoned for living off the proceeds of prostitution, even if he could give proof of his earnings, was repealed, opening the way for women working as prostitutes to have family lives. Many have carved out an almost bourgeois existence, with families and mortgages, by achieving the sought-after status of self-employment.
The president of France Prostitution is Michelle, 58, who has witnessed the evolution of prostitution from a situation in which it was synonymous with organised crime, to the emancipation of working girls.
Michelle works in the Bois de Boulogne — a place for female prostitutes in daylight. She has always worked for herself. Like most women who work here , she takes her clients to a van and charges the going rate: £13 for fellatio and £25 for sexual intercourse.
She said prostitutes are more often the targets than the perpetrators of crime. 'Because we no longer have pimps, we are easy targets for delinquents who want to steal our money. '
Her son discovered what she did for a living at nine and asked her: 'Do you kiss them?' The answer was no. 'Well, that's all right then,' he said.
Now a 35-year-old actor, he still lives with her. 'He's come out of all this very well.'
After 40 years as a prostitute, early years of back-street abortions, nights in 'filthy, overcrowded police cells' and physical attacks Michelle has no regrets but fears the end of the tolerance in society which the profession has attained. "
Tuesday, May 6, 2003
From the Associated Press:
" Prostitutes cleared in first Paris trial over law against 'passive' solicitation
PARIS — Three prostitutes were acquitted Monday in a trial that marked the first test in Paris of a new anti-crime law forbidding even "passive" solicitation of potential customers.
The women were taken into police custody early last month after residents of the working-class Paris neighborhood where they were working complained to authorities, according to police.
The law set prison terms of up to six months and fines for "passive solicitation" by prostitutes, a vaguely defined term based on "their dress or their attitude."
Hundreds of prostitutes, many wearing white masks with tears painted on them, marched in protest of the proposed law in Paris last November. France's center-right government swept to power last summer on pledges to combat prostitution as part of a wide effort to stem rising crime. "
Let's hope that President Alan Garcia's time of exile in France brings no change in his center-left governance.