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Junior minister wants to abolish prostitution

Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem wants to end prostitution in France and supports legislation that shifts the blame from prostitutes to clients. 

“The question is not whether we want to abolish prostitution, the answer is yes. The real question is how we are going to do it,” Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told French weekly Le JDD on Sunday.

 In France, prostitution is legal but street walking is an offence. Prostitutes who are caught looking clients on the street risk two months in prison and a fine of €3,750.

The Socialist Party has criticised the criminalisation of street walking, saying it forced sex workers to hide and denied them access to health services. 

In 2012, there were at least 18,000 to 20,000 prostitutes on the streets of French towns, according to an anti-prostitution association the Scelles Foundation. But the figures do not take into account the booming sex industry on the Internet. 

“I’m not naive; I know it’s a long-term mission,” says 34-year-old Vallaud-Belkacem. She says the government is planning to organise an conference on the best way to tackle prostitution.

According to a 2011 parliamentary report, 80 percent of prostitutes in France are foreigners who are the victims of trafficking networks – some are forced to have sex 15 to 20 times per day. The report warned that France has fewer independent sex workers today than in previous years. 

Last year, the French National Assembly voted for a resolution to criminalise clients, a move that shifts the blame away from prostitutes. 

In 1999, Sweden introduced legislation criminalising the buying of sex, not its selling. The idea behind the legislation is that prostitution is a form of abuse against female or male sex workers. 

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HOLIDAY

Traffic warnings issued in France for Pentecost holiday weekend

Traffic authorities have warned of busy roads as people in France head off for the long Pentecost weekend.

Traffic warnings issued in France for Pentecost holiday weekend
Many French people will be heading off for a long weekend until Monday, which marks the Christian celebration of Pentecost (Pentecôte). Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Roads will be busy across most of the country on Friday as many people in France take advantage of the public holiday on Monday 24th, which marks the Christian celebration of Pentecost (Pentecôte).

READ ALSO: Pentecost: The French public holiday where people work for free

Bison Futé, the government-run website that monitors traffic levels in France, has put most of the country on orange alert (third highest) on Friday for departures, except for the greater Paris Île-de-France region and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, which were on red alert (second highest).

READ ALSO: What changes in France on Wednesday as phase 2 of reopening begins?

Photo: Bison Futé

On Saturday the whole country will also be on orange alert for departures except for the Île-de-France region, which will be on red alert. And the same will be the case on Monday for returns.

Photo: Bison Futé

Rail disruption for trains to Marseille and from Paris to Toulouse

With SCNF carrying out works at the Saint-Charles station in Marseille, there is expected to be significant disruption in trains arriving in the southern French city from Saturday 22nd and Monday 24th of May.

This includes the TER trains between Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, Avignon via Arles, Narbonne and Lyon; the Intercités between Marseille and Bordeaux (a bus service will be available on Sunday 23rd of May) and the TGV Inoui and Ouigo trains.

The Intercité line from Paris to Toulouse will also be severely disrupted due to building works. There will be no trains running on Sunday, and will restart progressively from Monday.

From Wednesday May 19th, the curfew has been pushed back from 7pm to 9pm. So if you are travelling between 9pm and 6am, you need to fill the latest version of the attestation, which can be found on the TousAntiCovid app.

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