While Germany seems to be a role model for France in economic matters, the opposite appears to be true for prostitution and human trafficking.
After years of heated debate, the French Parliament has passed a law according to which the purchase of sex services (prostitution) is banned and offenders will be punished with fines of €1,500. At the same time, prostitutes themselves will be decriminalized.
For the 80% of the 40,000 sex workers in the country who are not French citizens, naturalization will be greatly facilitated if they drop out of their trade and also complete a six-month drop-out program. In addition, a foundation will be set up which will receive €4.8 million annually. The foundation will also receive all proceeds from the penalty fees in order to promote exit programs for sex workers. All due respect!
France is thus following the experience made in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland (therefore also called “the Nordic Model”) that this is the best way to combat and reduce forced prostitution. Other countries like Israel are on the way to similar laws.
In the Netherlands, which fully legalized prostitution 16 years ago and did so in advance of Germany, a similar approach is under discussion. The first result is a draft of a law with good chances to pass. It seeks to punish sexual contact with a forced prostitute with up to 4 years of prison and fines of approximately €20,000.
In a directive dated May 12, 2016 entitled “Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings,” the European Parliament called on all member states of the European Union to “propose guidelines on the punishment of the client based on the Nordic Model.”
“The European Parliament … 48. … calls on the Commission and the Member States to propose guidelines on the punishment of the client based on the Nordic Model, while raising awareness about all forms of THB [trafficking in human beings], especially sexual exploitation, and making other forms of exploitation … visible …”
So while countries that were once almost synonymous with free prostitution focus on the fate of women, Germany is increasingly becoming an Eldorado for clients, pimps, and brothel operators. After having anyway indulged in waiting longer than the intended period of ten years for review of the success or failure of the law, the newest draft of the law is a grumbling mess. It does not change anything about the fundamental situation that Germany is a paradise for brothel operators and brings a whole tourism industry consisting of clients in large numbers – coming above all by bus – from neighboring countries to us and places Germany at the bottom of the league in the fight against forced prostitution.
What gives me hope is that while only a quarter of Germans are in favor of a general ban on sex for money, a 57% majority of under-30s would prefer to ban on prostitution altogether.