France: Sex workers protest and organise against the criminalisation of sex work
Sex workers in France are organising protests, press confernece and sex workers gathering to protest and organise against the laws that criminalise their work.
On Saturday 8th April, 500 sex workers led by ICRSE member STRASS marched in Paris to protest against the one year anniversary of the law criminalising clients.
France sex workers complain that clients fear of arrest has impoverished them and deteriorated their working conditions. Meanwhile, the government’s promises to help sex workers who want to quit sex work have not been realised, and sex workers still face risk of arrest on procurement charges, for ‘undeclared work’, or due to local public orders. Increased mobility and precariousness have also led to sex workers taking more risk and an increase in violence.
“They say the clients are like rapists so they have to arrest them but when we are victims of rape the police don’t want to take our report” said Monica, a transgender sex worker from Peru.
Within the march, a majority of migrant sex workers from Nigeria, China or Latin America were present to demand residency permits and the end of the discriminations they face. Signs and banners were hold saying “Arrest/Stop our aggressors, not our clients” or “Sex work is work”.
“The government wants us to stop doing this work. I don’t like doing this work and want to change but the government doesn't give us papers. If we don't have papers, then we can't do another job. We need papers.” said Joy a Nigerian sex worker.
“Clients' bargaining power has increased so it is more difficult to impose our conditions. We have to adapt to clients' demands and there is more pressure to decrease our rates or accept sex without condoms” said STRASS founding member & sex worker Thierry Schaffauser.
“One of our colleagues committed suicide because she was unable to pay her fines and her rent. Many sex workers have become desperate by lack of money” he added.
Video of the march here:
Between the 1st and 3rd of June, STRASS will also coordinate their Annual Gathering of Sex Workers in Marseille. The programme includes workshops for sex workers only on the law, migration, violence, trans identities, feminism; press conference and a cultural programme.
More info (in French) and full programme avaiable on: