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PROSTITUTION

French intellectuals slam prostitution ban plan

Some of France's leading intellectuals have poured scorn on the government's goal of eradicating prostitution.

Writing in Thursday's edition of the weekly political magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, a collection of academics, artists and writers suggest efforts to

get rid of the world's oldest profession are bound to fail and question whether the Socialist administration should even be trying.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the minister for women, caused a stir in June when she announced the new government would attempt to end the sale of sex.

Responding, the intellectuals said any move to liberate women from sexual slavery or the clutches of organised crime would be welcome.

But they argued that talk of "abolishing" prostitution was based on "two debatable assumptions: that charging for sex is an affront to women's dignity
and that all prostitutes are all victims of their bastard clients."

They added: "A women who prostitutes herself, whether she does so occasionally or full-time, is not necessarily a victim of male oppression.

"And the clients are not all horrible predators or sexual obsessives who treat the woman as disposable objects."

Among the signatories to the article were philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, writer Regine Desforges and film-maker Claude Lanzmann.

As things stand, prostitution in itself is not a crime in France but various connected activities, including advertising sex for sale, procuring someone for sex and running a brothel, are.

Vallaud-Belkacem is considering the introduction of new measures to target the clients of prostitutes.

But the intellectuals believe that criminalising clients will only force prostitution even more underground, making the women involved more vulnerable to exploitation by pimps.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," they warn.

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PROSTITUTION

Nigerian sex traffickers jailed in France

A French court sentenced 24 members of a Lyon-based sex trafficking ring to prison terms of up to seven years for forcing Nigerian women into prostitution.

Nigerian sex traffickers jailed in France
Photos: AFP

Nearly all of the defendants were themselves Nigerian, in the latest case to highlight the growing use of African migrants in the European sex trade.

They include one of Europe's most wanted women, Jessica Edosomwan, accused of acting as a France-based “madam” to women recruited mainly in Nigeria's southern Edo State.

Edosomwan was tried in absentia.

Nigeria was the main country of origin for the tens of thousands of migrants who crossed the Mediterranean to Europe by boat in 2016 and 2017.

Many were women and girls lured to Europe with false promises of jobs as hairdressers or seamstresses, only to find themselves selling sex to repay their smugglers.

Seventeen women filed complaints against the defendants but none of the victims attended the trial, with the exception of one former sex worker who found herself in the dock for luring another woman into the trade.

The accused had faced up to 10 years' imprisonment on charges including human trafficking, pimping, money laundering and helping people live illegally in France.

Prosecutors estimated that the victims, aged 17 to 38, made up to $166 000 a month for the syndicate by selling sex in vans parked by the side of the road for as little as 10 euros.

A French mechanic who looked after the vans was among the 24 defendants.

Last year, 15 members of a Paris-based, female-led pimping ring known as the “Authentic Sisters” – many themselves former trafficking victims – were jailed for up to 11 years for forcing girls into slavery in France.

Similar gangs have also been dismantled in Italy and Britain.

The UN estimates that 80 percent of young Nigerian women arriving in Italy – usually their first port of call in Europe – are already in the clutches of prostitution networks, or quickly fall under their control.

Most of the women come from Nigeria's Benin City, a human trafficking hotbed.

Many told investigators they had taken part in “juju” or black magic rituals before leaving Nigeria, during which they had to promise to repay the money for their passage to Europe.

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