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64-12! France Votes To Criminalize Buying Sex & Decriminalize People In Prostitution

The Nordic Model Of Laws To Ending Sex Trafficking And Commercial Sexual Exploitation Continues To Gain Ground In Europe! 

On 6 April 2016, the French National Assembly historically and overwhelmingly passed the ‘Nordic Model’ ( or Equality Model) into law– an approach that promotes human rights and gender equality. Moving forward, people in prostitution will no longer be treated as criminals and will have access to support services, while those who buy or facilitate the purchase sex will face criminal charges.

The approach has proven effective in curbing sex trafficking since it targets the demand that fuels commercial sexual exploitation. Previous approaches, which criminalized people in prostitution but allowed buying sex, punished those who face disproportionate violence and exploitation in the sex trade – an industry where mainly brothel-keepers, traffickers, pimps and those who buy sex benefit.

The passage also places France in compliance with international and European law on the issue, which obligates countries to address demand. Equality Now congratulates partners CAP International, Mouvement Du Nid and the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and the coalition of over 60 French organizations that make up Abolition2012, for their years of tireless work to get this law.


Jacqui Hunt, Director of Europe, Equality Now

This approach has already been successful in Sweden, Norway and Iceland – countries which rank very high in terms of gender equality and which acknowledge the high levels of sexual exploitation within the commercial sex industry and its links with sex trafficking.

The trend towards this approach is strengthening throughout Europe, with Ireland due to vote on the same model soon, following Northern Ireland’s introduction of the Nordic Model last year. It is becoming increasingly evident that attempts to regulate the commercial sex trade through legalization or decriminalization do not make things safer for people in prostitution, so this positive wave towards targeting demand while decriminalizing people selling sex is likely to strengthen further as neighboring countries that have experimented with legalizing brothel-keeping, pimping and buying sex feel the increased ill effects of these harmful policies.” 

Read more on the historic vote: