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Paying for sex now an offence in France

Paris: A new law passed in France makes paying for sex an offence and transfers the punishment from prostitutes to clients. The law has been welcomed as revolutionary by activists who hope it will help eradicate sex trafficking.

Under the law, passed on Wednesday, those who pay for sex will be fined up to 1,500 euros ($1,700) for the first violation, and up to 3,750 Euros ($4,300) for subsequent violations.

France follows Northern Ireland, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Iceland in introducing laws to punish the client without criminalizing those who have been forced into prostitution.

According to the Central Office for the Suppression of Trafficking of Human Beings, there are between 30,000 and 37,000 sex workers in France.

Gregoire Thery, secretary general of the French non-profit Mouvement du Nid, said transferring the criminal charge from victim to the client would make France less striking for pimps and traffickers.

Many sex workers do not hold the rights to work in France. The new law lays the foundation for those who want to leave prostitution to obtain residence permits and financial support.