France Debates Whether Prostitution Should Be Legalized

Should prostitution be legalized?

This is a loaded question that has been debated in countries across the globe – France the most recent culprit.

Parliamentarian Chantal Brunel, head of the country’s sexual equality watchdog, is campaigning to legalize prostitution in the country, and it seems that many agree.

A recent survey found that six out of 10 French people want brothels to be legalized in the country again as they are in Germany, Holland, and Switzerland. More than two-thirds of men surveyed and almost half of women  replied that they were in favor of this proposal.

Brunel argues that women should be allowed to sell sex on “special licensed premises.” She believes that doing so would “free thousands of women from the exploitation they suffer at the hands of pimps and criminal gangs and offer them much more security than they currently have on the streets.”

Legalization, however, does not mean freedom. Many sex workers have been with their pimps since they were very young and are conditioned over the years to believe that they need their pimps for survival – no matter how much they abuse them or steal their money. Legalizing prostitution would do nothing to change these relationships or the tight grasp pimps have over the women who work for them. Legalization also doesn’t mean the extinction of pimps. On the contrary, it could create a new network of pimps for the growing legal profession. 

Brunel also says that she thinks legalizing prostitution would give sex workers “a legal taxable income and they would not be handing over large sums of their earning to a pimp.”
I have to disagree with this point as well. If prostitution were legalized sex workers would have as Brunel points out “a legal taxable income” but this does not mean financial independence nor does it mean that these women would be able to keep the money they earn for themselves. Demands from pimps for their share of the earnings will continue with no avail and if women object I fear they will pay in abuse.

Sex workers are subject to many dangers – abuse, rape, sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, HIV / AIDS. Whether prostitution is legal or not, these dangers still exist. Perhaps, instead of fueling resources into legalizing or criminalizing prostitution, we should be investing time and energy into finding solutions for eradicating the practice altogether and giving women other options to make an income.

I have to believe that a world in which women live freely and safely is possible, but until then sex workers need their governments to protect them from abuse and harassment – whether what they do is legal or not.

What do you think? Should France move to legalize prostitution?

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Picture by Ricardo Martins used under a Creative Commons license


George Williamson

Yes it should be legal.

Evan Schooler
Evan Schooler4 years ago

If a man wants to pay a woman for sex he can't get on his own then he should legally be able to do it.

Roger Hawcroft
Roger Hawcroft4 years ago

Of course prostitution should be legalised - one can't argue that a woman's body is her own and then say she can't use it to earn an income if she wishes. Prostitution is also tainted because of anachronistic and hypocritical values which are long past their use-by date. These were imposed by a male dominated society and a reflection of that is the prevalence of penalties and slurs being put on the prostitute but not the client. As long as something is criminalised it will invite criminals. Properly licensed and controlled brothels can safeguard sex workers and clients. Yes, there will be problems with pimps and some criminal elements who will seek to take charge of the industry through violence and intimidation but it should be easier to prevent this than it is as the moment, not least because a sex-worker will not have to fear being charged or victimised by the police if they report abuse, violence or intimidation.

The need and desire for sex is a fact of life. Many cannot meet this need easily for a variety of reasons from ugliness, through deformity, to personality issues. Prostitutes serve a useful service for these people.

The sooner prostitution is de-criminalised and sex workers are able t seek protection and safety when threastend, the sooone the world will be in a better place

Aaron G
Aaron Gallo4 years ago

Legal prostitution between consenting adults should be legal now! I wish you people who think prostitution between consenting adults is SO BAD, would open your eyes, and get out of your narrow narrow world!

Angela Scholder
Angela S7 years ago

@Mike L.
This is not about trafficking and child prostitution, as this is and should remain to be a crime. The profession of providing the service of sex, in the most wide meaning of the word, by consenting women, and men, who consciously, and without any pressure or force are willing to do this job, should be fully legal.
The profession can then be regulated, and the income taxed as any other income.
The criminals should be taken out of the loop, and as the workers no longer are criminalised, they will no longer face criminal charges and can in that way no longer be held hostage by the pimps and other criminals that are now running the show.

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

Humans are sexual. It is the drive to keep our species going. Humans have the ability to enjoy sex beyond procreation. A lot of time sex is used to be intimate with another human. Humans used to birth about the same time, when we lived in small villages. The children were taken care of in groups. Puppies, kittens,and children like to pile together to sleep. It's fun and cozy. When women were 'owned' that all changed.. All the people got separated. A child went with their mother, who went with her husband. into his house with the rest of his possessions. What happens to the men and women who don't have a partner? Where can they get to have sex too? Prostitution is how they can have sex . The human body starts to deteriorate when sex is discontinued. The body, and mind goes away, as the body starts to die. When a person decides to do something, it is for them to decide, no one else. In a society where sex is used subliminally in most of the advertising, it accents the need. The control on sex causes a swirl of confusion. Actually sex is a natural part of the life force, and needs to be dealt with. Not shoved under the table. As you all one has sex, the children just come. Sex is not to be controlled by anyone but the person who wants/needs it, and the person they are having it with. All consenting people.

Marilyn S.
Marilyn Snyder7 years ago


Mike L.
Mike L7 years ago

This is soooo stupid! (sorry, you 63 %)

Lets think:
“Why not solve the problem with child abuse and child-prostitution, the same way?!
Lets have areas where sex with children is legal. These children should be safe from violence, get health-care and we would, of cause, get the permission from their parents.This would save 1000s of children from violence and abuse!!”

The idea of trading women IS abuse!
If the governments were putting as much resources on trafficking, prostitution and real information as they do on fighting drugs or buying war this would make a real change.

By raising a new generation in the spirit of seeing women as things, to satisfy our sexual needs, would only make this more accepted.

The fact that many “aware” people think this idea would make things better is preposterous. And It IS, in part, a results of billions spent in de-humanizing of young women (if you watch the pornography produced in Europe u know exactly what I mean, where humiliating and belittling women is the standard).

You also assume that these women exist in some sort of selected group already IN misery. But whose daughters should serve your sons and husbands with sexual services in the future?

What are your views when someone wants to recruit your daughter??

Sasha T.
Sasha T7 years ago

Yes but controled by the government preferable women in charge. If these places have guards and police regularly patroling, Im convinced that the control of pimps can be seriously reduced. This 'profession' will never disappear so if the government can offer extra protection, I see nothing wrong.

Nellie K A.
Nellie K Adaba7 years ago

Paris, France is La Boheme- rebellious life, almost everything was always legal. There were no strict laws on prostitution in France. I know because I'm from Belgium which is close to France. I now live in NY. I think prostitution should be illegal.