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Merrit Kennedy. Protesters hold signs reading, "Prostitutes are angry. Don't touch our clients," during a protest Wednesday in Paris against legislation combating prostitution and sex trafficking. Under the law, passed Wednesday, "customers will face fines and be made to attend awareness classes on the harms of the sex trade," The Associated Press reports.
France's sex workers union strongly opposes the legislation, saying it puts them at greater risk. The new law, which has been billed as a comprehensive approach to reducing sex work, has received a mixed response from rights groups. It also repeals a ban on solicitation by sex workers. As the AP reported, "prostitution in itself is legal in France — though brothels, pimping and the sale of sex by minors are illegal. Additionally, the law will "make it easier for foreign prostitutes — many currently illegally in France — to acquire a temporary residence permit if they enter a process to get out of the prostitution business," the wire service added.
The French union of sex workers, known as Strass, called the law "dangerous" and rallied in central Paris on the day of the National Assembly vote.
Under the pretext of protection, Strass said in a statement , the law will expose sex workers to more violence. Amnesty International echoed that concern in comments to the BBC :. The charity says sex workers have reported being asked to visit customers' homes to help them avoid police, instead of meeting them in safer environments. As France 24 reported , rights group Le Mouvement du Nid "has mounted a detailed and impassioned defence of the legislation.
The group, which advocates against prostitution, called the new law a "historic victory" and said in a statement that it makes it easier for sex workers to file legal complaints against clients because it reverses criminal responsibility.