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France makes paying for sex illegal
01:23 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Prostitution clients in France now face fines and mandatory classes

Meanwhile, prostitutes will no longer be jailed or fined for public soliciting

Supporters say clients are the real criminals; opponents say the law is illogical

CNN  — 

Paying for sex in France is about to get a lot more expensive.

France has joined a growing number of European countries that criminalize clients of prostitutes.

The French National Assembly outlawed the hiring of prostitutes while eliminating penalties for sex workers. Paying for sex services now carries a fine of 1,500 euros ($1,700). Repeat offenders could be fined up to 3,750 euros ($4,260).

Clients will also have to enroll in workshops to learn about the plight of sex workers, according to the National Assembly’s website.

Meanwhile, sex workers will no longer be fined or jailed for public soliciting. And foreign sex workers actively trying to get out of prostitution can be given a six-month residential permit and state funding to prevent prostitution.

The measure has been quite controversial in France, having bounced back and forth between the legislature’s two chambers since 2013. It passed Wednesday in the National Assembly by a vote of 64 to 12.

“I think this prostitution bill is a good thing,” one Parisian wrote on Twitter. “They finally understand that the clients are guilty.”

But many wondered how prostitution could be legalized if the purchase of sex is now illegal.

“This anti-prostitution law is as if we allowed bakers to display their cakes but didn’t allow people to buy them,” Micky Marty tweeted.

France follows at least four other European countries that have criminalized the purchase of sex: Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the UK.

Journalists Noisette Martel and Aurore Gayte contributed to this report.