The French lower house has voted to pass a reform of the prostitution law.
Politicians voted 268 in favour and 138 against the reform, which would put those seeking to pay for sex at risk of a €1,500 fine. The act of soliciting would no longer be punished.
Some sex workers are unhappy with the proposed shift in the law, saying they will be robbed of their livelihood.
However women’s rights groups in France have championed the reform from the outset, arguing that prostitution in any form is unacceptable.
France’s minister for women’s rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, thanked the voting politicians for their decision:
“Thank you for believing in this text and not believing in fate,” she said.
“Thank you for agreeing to look at prostitution as it is and not through rose-tinted glasses. Thank you for giving us the means to effectively fight against prostitution networks. And, thank you for reaching out to the victims of the trafficking networks that you all denounce,” Vallaud-Belkacem continued.
The reform will now be debated in the senate and, if approved, will give France some of the most restrictive laws on prostitution in Europe.