Paris charities decry repression of sex workers ahead of Olympics

Paris charities decry repression of sex workers ahead of Olympics

  • Published on
    March 7, 2024
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  • Category:
    Anti-Slavery Activists, Decriminalization
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As Paris prepares to host millions of international visitors for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, advocates are sounding the alarm over an escalating crackdown by French authorities on individuals in the sex industry. A report issued by 17 non-governmental organizations specializing in supporting sex workers highlights the heightened repression and altered policing strategies targeting sex workers.

‘Repression first’

The organizations agree that the “approach that we characterize as ‘repression first’ has obvious consequences on the security and health of sex workers.”

Charities operating in two hotspots – the Boulogne and Vincennes woods to the west and east of Paris noted, “increased police patrols ahead of the Games with heavy-handed identity controls on women working in the sex industry.” Urging authorities to redirect their efforts, they emphasized the importance of focusing on the “criminal organizations which rob, rape, and assault them.”

Publicist 24 writes,

Legislative changes in France mark the backdrop of this crackdown, particularly the 2016 law that criminalized the act of paying for sex, shifting the legal focus onto clients rather than sex workers themselves.

However, despite this legal framework, the charities assert that sex workers continue to bear the brunt of enforcement measures, exacerbating their vulnerability.

French authorities have expressed concerns over a potential surge in prostitution during the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, slated to commence on July 26.

However, the charities contested these assumptions, stating that there has not been a notable influx of sex workers into Paris, as rising accommodation costs push them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Despite legislative changes in France, such as the 2016 law criminalizing the act of paying for sex, the charities assert that sex workers continue to bear the brunt of enforcement measures, exacerbating their vulnerability.

Why we are concerned

Freedom United supports the full decriminalization of sex work as an approach to building resilience to trafficking for sexual exploitation and empowering survivors and sex workers to seek help from authorities without risking criminalization. Evidence suggests that punitive approaches instill fear and distrust of law enforcement and deter victims from reporting violence and trafficking when it occurs. We are concerned about the impact of increased policing on sex workers and victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Learn more about trafficking for sexual exploitation and the decriminalization of sex work here. 

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