• France's news in English
 

French senators vote to ban child beauty contests

Published: 18 Sep 2013 14:00 GMT+02:00

Judging children under the age of 16 on their physical appearance in so-called “beauty contests” will become a criminal offence in France, the French Senate ruled on Tuesday night.

The new law forms part of the new “equality bill” presented to the French Senate on Monday by France’s Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, which also included legislation to tackle unequal pay, domestic violence and to encourage fathers to take parental leave.

Beauty pageants have a proud tradition in France but they are not to everyone's liking, especially these involving young teenage girls, known as "mini miss" competitions.

In the Senate on Tuesday centrist Senator Chantal Jouanno, author of a report "Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight For Equality" proposed an ammendment to the bill, banning the underage contests, which was backed by 196 senators, with 146 voting against it. 

The sexual equality law will return to the lower house National Assembly for a second reading in November where deputees will have the final say on the so-called "Mini Miss" contests.

The Senate agreed to adopt tough sanctions to anyone flouting the law.

Under the new law, organizers of pageants under the age of 16 may now face up to two years in prison if they fail to comply with the ban and a fine of up to €30,000 ($40,000).

“Let’s not let our daughters think from such a young age that they will be judged according to their appearance. Let’s not let commercial interest impact on social interest,” Jouanno told the Senate.

But not all Senators were in favour of the law, including Virginie Klès from the Socialist party who thought the punishments were too harsh.

However, Jouanno’s proposed amendment for better regulation of child models was rejected.

The organiser of France's annual "Mini-Miss" pageant, Michel Le Parmentier, has protested the amendment, saying that regulations, rather than a ban, would have been a better solution.

Le Parmentier has reportedly threatened to take the pageant into Belgium. 

CLICK HERE to read Le Parmentier's defence of beauty contests: "The US is to blame," he says.

("Hyper-sexualisation? Judge for yourselves.) 

Law prompted by Vogue cover picture

The measure was prompted by controversy over a Vogue magazine photographic shoot featuring provocative images of a 10-year-old French girl in December 2010.

The girl, Thylane Loubry Blondeau, and two others were photographed with heavy make up and wearing tight dresses, high heels and expensive jewellery.

Vogue defended the pictures, saying it merely portrayed a common fantasy among young girls -- to dress like their mother.

Blondeau's mother, actress turned designer Veronika Loubry, sparked more outrage by writing in a blog that her "daughter isn't naked: let's not blow this thing out of proportion."

The Vogue photographs created controversy not only in France but also overseas, where they were widely deemed to be inappropriate.

Those who agree with Jouanno's fears over "hyper-sexualisation" of young girls may not have been surprised by the recent story of three teen call girls in Cannes, who when arrested told police they had got into prostitution simply for "sex, money and fun".

Tragedy and scandal

Beauty contests in France have been hit by tragedy and controversy in recent months.

Beauty queen Allison Benitez and her mother Marie-Josée disappeared from the south west city of Perpignan just days before she was due to participate in a rehearsal for the Miss Roussillon competition.

Earlier this month, investigators confirmed that they were now treating their disappearance as a murder inquiry (see photo above) after evidence emerged linking Allison’s father to the investigation. Francisco Benitez, who initially claimed the pair had left the family home permanently, was found hanged on August 5th.

In August, the Miss Rousillon contest was then hit by scandal when the newly-crowned beauty queen (below) was “dethroned” after posing for provocative semi-naked photographs – a violation of the rules, according to Miss France chiefs.  

Do you agree with the move to ban child beauty contests? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Don't want to miss a story about France? - Then join The Local France on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Greek FM in Paris to lobby for debt cuts
Yanis Varoufakis at the handover to the new Greek government earlier this week. Photo: ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

Greek FM in Paris to lobby for debt cuts

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has moved forward to Saturday a planned trip to Paris that launches the new anti-austerity government's search for EU allies, his office said. READ  

When French tourists behave badly abroad
In 2013 France's consul-general in Australia issued a plea to French backpackers saying their behaviour was bringing shame on the French community. Photo: drunk_by_i_woke_up_today/Flickr

When French tourists behave badly abroad

The French aren’t known to be a particularly rowdy bunch, but they have been known to misbehave while abroad. From an orgy in the Pompeii brothel to scaling an American landmark, we've made a countdown of some of their most mischievous exploits. And the prize for the naughtiest goes to… READ  

France lists how to spot jihadists (and new dads)
Nine ways to spot a potential jihadist, by the French government. New parents beware. Photo: AFP

France lists how to spot jihadists (and new dads)

As part of its new counter-terrorist campaign “Stop Jihadism”, the French government has released a nine-point check list to help people spot someone on the path to jihad, but The Local fears suspicion may fall on all new parents. READ  

Your top 20 favourite French words
Your top 20 favourite French words. photo: Shutterstock

Your top 20 favourite French words

Everyone's got their favourite French words, whether they're amusing, odd or just fun to pronounce. After we put the call out to readers The Local has put together a list of your suggestions. See if yours made our top 20. READ  

Football
Marseille victim of €700,000 Chinese scam
Marseille's teammates celebrate after winning the French Ligue 1 friendly between Marseille and Benfica Lisbonne in July, 2014. Photo: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP

Marseille victim of €700,000 Chinese scam

French Ligue 1 giants Marseille were the victims of a €700,000 ($793,000) international bank transfer scam to China last year, sources close to the case told AFP on Friday. READ  

Frenchmen held for nude pics at Angkor temple
The male tourists were discovered inside the Banteay Kdei temple. Photo: Leon petrosyan/Wikicommons

Frenchmen held for nude pics at Angkor temple

UPDATED: Three French tourists have been arrested by Cambodian authorities for taking nude photos of each other inside the country's famed Angkor temple complex, officials said on Friday. READ  

Man kills ex-wife and takes body to police
A man who murdered his wife drove to a police station with her body in the car. Photo: AFP

Man kills ex-wife and takes body to police

Police in western France had to deal with a "rare" incident this week when a man murdered his ex-wife, stuffed her body into the boot of his car and drove to a police station to report his crime. READ  

Weather warning
Warnings as gales and snow hit parts of France
Rain, snow and wind have left sections of France on alert on Friday. Photo: AFP

Warnings as gales and snow hit parts of France

Severe weather warnings were in place for 11 départements in France on Friday morning as strong winds and snow storms battered the south east and south west of the country. Over 27,000 homes were left without power. READ  

Dining out in Paris
Paris food critic blasts Michelin's top eateries
The Plaza Athénée in Paris where Paris by Mouth critic Meg Zimbek blew €1,100 on a pretty dodgy meal. Photo: AFP

Paris food critic blasts Michelin's top eateries

One the eve of the release of the new Michelin guide, a leading Paris restaurant critic, who shelled out more than €7,000 to review all the capital's three-star venues, tells The Local why diners should steer well clear of the "overblown and least exciting" eateries. READ  

The DSK Affair
DSK's orgies: France set for trial of the year
Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaving the Paris courthouse after attending a hearing regarding his seizure request of the new book by Marcela Iacub. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

DSK's orgies: France set for trial of the year

Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose sexual proclivities cost him his job and a shot at the French presidency, goes on trial Monday for "pimping" over his alleged role in a prostitution ring. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Why you should steer well clear of Michelin's top Paris restaurants
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
France's trial of the year: DSK prepares for court
Culture
The myths that mean French lovers regularly disappoint
National
What you can’t say or tweet in post-terror attacks France
Features
Everything you need to know about studying in France
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
National
The ways French motorists drive expats crazy
National
'French culture demands jihadists are punished not de-radicalised'
Culture
'Midriff the new cleavage' at Chanel's Paris show
Politics
'Syriza victory is good news for French people'
Society
France bars parents from naming baby 'Nutella'
National
France has no entrepreneurs!? What about fart pills for windy lovers?
Society
Nutella to Happy: The wacky French baby names banned by law
Culture
Men's Fashion Week in Paris in pictures - from penises to androgyny
Health
Could France be the next country to ban sunbeds?
Gallery
Ten French words you will never hear in France
National
Wrap up warm: Big freeze to hit northern France at the weekend
National
Muslims in France - 'They say we're not French'
National
Paris wants New York-inspired 'citizen cards'
Gallery
An architect has shown how he thinks Paris should look in 2050
Culture
Where are the real "no-go zones" in Paris? We've listed 10.
Society
Cheese diet helps oldest Frenchman live to 110
National
Charlie Hebdo chief stands firm over cartoons as global protests spread
National
'It feels like I'm in a warzone': Paris tourist
National
Are there really 'no-go zones' in Paris?
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
National
A futuristic vision of Paris revealed... and other news
National
What now for France post-terror attacks?
National
France to beef up its surveillance powers
National
Charlie Hebdo sells out within hours in France
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
France moves to crack down on terror speech in aftermath of attacks
National
French Muslims react to Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cover
National
'I only had a few seconds to hide from the Kouachis'
National
After three days of terror France feels like a nation
National
IN PICTURES: France's biggest street demos in recent history
National
And in other news in France ...
National
A defiant France rises up on solidarity like never before
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Paris marches for unity after terror attacks
National
OPINION: 'As bloody as it's been, France is not at war'
National
'It's a true nightmare': Parisians react to terror attacks
National
French to march in unity to help heal their wounded nation
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

550
jobs available