06/12/2011 12:09 GMT

French Hope To Ban Prostitution By Punishing Clients

Banning prostitution by cracking down on the people who buy sex is a resolutionto be debated by the French parliament, despite protests from France's sex workers' trade union, Strass.

Parties came together for the cross-party commission, and if a vote in the National Assembly proves the resolution popular, a bill will be drafted in January.

At the moment prostitution itself is only prosecuted when it disturbs public order, and a client only faces prosecution if they visit an under age prostitute or one that is considered "particularly vulnerable".

The new bill would punish any client who visits one of the estimated 20,000 prostitutes in France with a six-month prison sentence and a fine of 3,000 euros (£2,580; $4,000), according to Danielle Bousquet, the Socialist MP who is leading the plans to abolish prostitution.

Quoting figures that show legalising and regulating the selling of sex increases prostitution, the commission points to places like Sweden which decriminalises prostitutes themselves, while penalising those buying their wares.

It’s possible that the mood towards prostitutes in France is changing, following the DSK scandal, where it emerged that he had links to a call girl ring in Northern France.

Pro-abolition MP Guy Geoffroy said that buying sex disrespects humanity with less and less women choosing to become prostitues, and instead trafficked into it: "From now on prostitution is regarded from the point of view of violence against women and that has become unacceptable for everyone."

However anti abolitionists claim that punishing clients will reduce the number of people buying sex, forcing prostitutes to take more risks in a bid to make money.

"Maitresse Gilda", spokewoman for Strass told the Guardian:

"If you spark prohibition you play into the hands of the pimps and mafia networks," she said. "This law is just an excuse to clean up the streets and expel the Africans and east Europeans, among others, who work on them. It will push the women into hiding and therefore into more danger."