Prostitutes give a thumbs-down to French brothel opening proposal

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Washington, May 13 (ANI): A French lawmaker has suggested reopening brothels, outlawed in France since 1946, in order to protect prostitutes from predatory pimps and exploitation. But the sex workers have refused.

"All of the prostitutes are against the reopening of the brothels," CBS News quoted Janine Mossuz-Lavau, a sociologist and expert on sexuality and prostitution, as saying.

A 2003 law introduced by then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy criminalized all activities around prostitution - which was legal for anyone aged above 18, has 'rendered exercising this profession much more dangerous' since workers found themselves isolated, Mossuz-Lavau said.

Chantal Brunel, a member of Sarkozy's UMP party, wants to reopen the brothels as spaces where workers would be safe from human trafficking and violence, treated with dignity and would even receive medical care - a suggestion that 59 percent of French citizens support, according to a poll.

However, Tiphaine Besnard, a union spokeswoman for the sex workers' union, said that the matter hadn't progressed in a long time. In any case, the workers rarely participate in political discussions or decisions involving them.

"Our elected officials ... are doomed to repeat the same failures if they do not consult the people who live prostitution daily and know all the consequences of their policies."

"We alone possess the expertise on our lives," the union said in a March press release.

The reasons for the refusal are that brothel keepers who want to receive a cut of their proceeds would exploit the workers and mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases could lead to discriminatory policies that might bar those infected from working. They are also against a system that might divide workers into camps of regular brothel workers and others who refuse to work within that system.

Alain Plumey, a 62-year-old erotic art collector has said that the debate resurfaces every few years. His Museum of Eroticism contains substantial documentation on the brothels of the 19th and 20th centuries. By 1946, the brothels had closed indefinitely after experiencing years of stricter police controls.

He rubbished the government's thought of criminalizing activities around prostitution, and that if it goes ahead and reopens the brothels, it would be on the wrong side of the law, for pimping.

No government has ever been able to eradicate prostitution, a profession most people practice out of necessity and not out of choice. Stamping out poverty or at least devoting more time to analyzing the subject in the press might be a step in the right direction, he said.

"We have to treat the causes, not the effects," Plumey said. "Politicians pretend to treat the effects without taking care of the causes." (ANI)

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