French Parliament Reaffirms Abolitionist Position in France

Malka Marcovich December 6, 2011 France

Report on the Resolution Reaffirming the Abolitionist Position of France

On December 6, 2011 a major milestone was achieved in the abolitionist movement in Europe. A Resolution was adopted by consensus and supported by all political parties, reaffirming the abolitionist position of France on prostitution. This Resolution was adopted in the context of the follow up of the report of the Commission on prostitution that proposed numerous recommendations including the adoption of a law proposal to hold the buyers of commercial sex accountable. Buyers face penalties of six months in prison and/or a fine of 3000 Euros. 

In the words of CATW's Malka Marcovich, "It reminded me of a day that Janice Raymond and I experienced some ten years ago in Vienna, when the definition of trafficking was adopted with our wording. Yet, on such a significant day, I felt alone without Denise Pouillon Falco, now 96 years old. I felt the legacy of her aunt's work, Marcelle Legrand Falco, and all of the strong French feminist women who followed Josephine Butler at the end of the 19th century. The French Parliament is somewhat old fashioned, with the public sitting in a theater-like setting at the top of an arena. I was thinking of our mothers who were sitting in the same seats at the Parliament when the brothels were closed in France in 1946, and then when France ratified the 1949 Convention in 1960."

Among the public present, there were many feminist organizations including Femmes Solidaires, CATW's long time partner, and the Collectif National Droits des Femmes

Danielle Bousquet of the Socialist Party, President of the Commission on Prostitution at the Parliament, presented the report and its methodology. She spoke of the contradiction if France, a long-standing champion of human rights, does not again affirm its abolitionist position, fighting for equality inscribed in our constitution, and the integrity of the human body, which is in our civil code. She spoke about gender equality, that sexual liberation cannot accept the negation of one's sexuality, the archaism of the vision of prostitution, and the fact that the Nordic Model has proven effective when all regulationist models in Europe have not. She said this is a first step, and that the next step should be criminalizing the buyers.

Rapporteur Guy Geoffroy, of the Presidential Right Wing Party, pointed out the different systems and the need for France to send a strong abolitionist message inscribed in our Republic's secular identity. He also spoke about the need to criminalize the buyers of commercial sex as a next step if France wants to be coherent with its democratic principles.