• 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
France tells Cameron referendum is 'very risky'
UK Prime Minister David Cameron meets French President François Hollande on a trip to Paris in January. Photo: AFP

France tells Cameron referendum is 'very risky'

France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius fired a warning to UK Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of his trip to Paris on Thursday, telling him the EU referendum was "very risky" and that Britain would 'certainly' have the most to lose if it left the EU. READ  

'Drunk Paris police' kill motorist in car crash

'Drunk Paris police' kill motorist in car crash

UPDATED: Two Paris police officers are in custody on Thursday after allegedly causing a crash that killed a delivery driver in the centre of the city. The police officers were said to have been drunk at the time. READ  

Prostitution costs France '€1.6 billion each year'
Paying or accepting payment for sex is not a crime in France. Photo: AFP

Prostitution costs France '€1.6 billion each year'

The 37,000 prostitutes in France are costing the country €1.6 billion a year, according to a new and extensive study that examined the economic effects that the sex industry has on French society. READ  

Can France's new mega university rival the best?
An aerial view of the Paris-Saclay campus. But can it really rival Harvard or Oxford and Cambridge? Photo:

Can France's new mega university rival the best?

France's new mega university Paris-Saclay will officially open for business later this year, but can it really rival the very best institutions in the world? French researcher Jean-Claude Thoenig takes a closer look. READ  

France tells Iran: 'No inspections then no deal'
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L) meets with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif during nuclear talks in Lausanne. Photo: AFP

France tells Iran: 'No inspections then no deal'

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday that France would oppose a nuclear deal with Iran if it did not allow inspections of military sites. READ  

Barman guilty after client dies drinking 56 shots
A French barman was convicted for letting a client drink 56 shots in one night after which he died.

Barman guilty after client dies drinking 56 shots

A French barman received a suspended jail sentence on Wednesday after he was convicted of manslaughter for letting a man do 56 shots during a drinking contest that led to his death. READ  

France: 43 percent say no to daily shower
Only 57 percent of the French shower every day. Photo: Shutterstock

France: 43 percent say no to daily shower

Over forty percent of French people don't take a shower every day, according to a new poll that took a closer look at French people's habits with all things water. READ  

Are top polluters funding Paris climate summit?
The EDF (Electricty of France) powerhouse of Cordemais near Nantes, western France. Photo: AFP

Are top polluters funding Paris climate summit?

France on Wednesday unveiled a list of companies which will sponsor the year-end UN climate talks in Paris, sparking accusations of corporate "greenwashing" from campaigners. READ  

Property in France
Ten French manors for the price of a London flat
This chateau is cheaper than an average London home. Photo: Leggett Immobilier

Ten French manors for the price of a London flat

The average property in London is now topping €700,000 (£500,000) - but can you imagine what you can get in rural France for that kind of money? Take a look at these ten rustic paradises in France and try to pretend you're not tempted. READ  

Mediterranean Migrant Crisis
EU tells France to open border to 9,000 migrants
Photo: AFP

EU tells France to open border to 9,000 migrants

The European Commission laid out on Wednesday its controversial emergency measure to relocate tens of thousands of migrants around Europe. France was asked to open its doors to over a total of over 9,000 refugees over the next two years. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
'We need to talk about Europe... and what it has brought the UK'
National
Look what you can buy in France for the price of a London flat
France honours four French Resistance heros
Culture
The French film that cinemas are too scared to show
Features
How many of these stunning Paris streets have YOU walked down?
National
British woman bites off French reveller's thumb
National
200 years on, why is Waterloo still taboo for the French?
Features
Take a tour of the best Metro stations that Paris has to offer
National
Soon there'll be a fixed fare for a taxi ride from the airport into Paris
National
Drug dealers in Marseille are offering customers loyalty cards
Soon there'll be no minimum for using your bank card in France
Features
Fancy starting a business and living in Paris? There's help available
National
Are you fearing a Brexit? Maybe it's time to become a French citizen
How hard-up French are tempted by money to take migrants to the UK
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Education
More English words (including 'le selfie') sneak into French
Charlie Hebdo to give €4.3m to attack victims
National
French Protestants bless gay marriage
Opinion
Why elitism is dragging France down
Features
RECIPE: How to make your own picnic-perfect meringues
Business & Money
French tax declaration deadline: Key things to remember
VIDEO: Can YOU pronounce the trickiest word in French?
France tops holiday wish list for children
National
Study: Women do bulk of housework in France
National
VIDEO: Police use force on Calais migrants
National
This man is France's Instagram king. But who else makes the top list?
Features
Free museum entry, film festivals, sports... see What's On this in May
Culture
Behind the curtain: A closer look at the Cannes Film Festival
National
It's a boy! Baby born on Air France flight to Paris
Features
Love-locked: Whatever happened to Paris's beautiful bridges?
'Forget the UK election, expats should be able to vote in France'
Thomas Piketty backs Miliband for Britain but not Hollande for France
Gallery
The most spectacular sunset pictures from around France
National
France tells migrants in Calais to 'forget the UK and stay here'
Society
VIDEO: See what's beneath the surface of the French Riviera
National
French teen suicide after sex video web bullying
France launches bid to buy Europe's biggest and most spectacular dune
Double standards? French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
National
France goes on the defensive after UN experts say 'racism is trivialised'
Five reasons we should be worried about France's new snooping laws
International
The French don't seem to care about the UK election and that's normal
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