• France's news in English

Ex-prostitute walks 800 km in protest

AFP · 13 Oct 2014, 09:21

Published: 13 Oct 2014 09:21 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A former prostitute who walked 800 kilometres (500 miles) across France to demand that the government make good on its promise to penalise clients ended her protest march in Paris Sunday.

Rosen Hicher, an activist who campaigns to abolish prostitution, is protesting that a draft law to fine men up to €1,500 ($1,900) for paying for sex was shelved by a committee of the French upper house Senate in July.

Surrounded by a dozen ex-prostitutes supporting her, Hicher was due to make a symbolic stop Rue du Colisee -- an upmarket street where she first prostituted herself -- before making her way to the Senate to call on lawmakers "to wake up and finally act."

Prostitution "is not a right, no one has the right to buy a woman or sell her," she said.

Pascale Boistard, minister for women's rights, also joined Hicher on the last stretch of a march that began on September 3 in the western city of Saintes.

"The Senate must re-visit this law. A large majority of the French are in favour," Boistard said.

The draft anti-prostitution law, which is inspired by similar legislation in Sweden which penalises prostitutes' clients with the aim of eliminating the world's oldest profession, was initially adopted by the lower house National Assembly in December last year.

But critics said the legislation would simply push prostitution further underground and make the women who earn their living from it more vulnerable to abuse.

Paying or accepting payment for sex currently is not, in itself, a crime in France. But soliciting, pimping (which includes running brothels) and the sale of sex by minors are prohibited.

The new bill decriminalises soliciting while shifting the focus of policing efforts to the clients.

Story continues below…

The government says it is aimed at preventing violence against women and protecting the large majority of prostitutes who are victims of trafficking gangs.

Hicher herself was a prostitute for 22 years before managing to quit in 2009.

She said many people had come to support her along her march, including men who had occasionally or regularly paid for sex and acknowledged that this had represented "a sexual failure, a failure in their lives."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available