France's MPs Outlaw Prostitution

French MPs have passed a law that makes it illegal to pay for sex and imposes fines of up to €3,750 (£3,027, $4,274) for those buying sexual acts.

Photo credit: The Guardian.

Photo credit: The Guardian.

Those convicted would also have to attend classes to learn about the conditions faced by prostitutes.

It has taken more than two years to pass the controversial legislation because of differences between the two houses of parliament over the issue.

Some sex workers protested against the law during the final debate.

The demonstrators outside parliament in Paris, numbering about 60, carried banners and placards one of which read: "Don't liberate me, I'll take care of myself".

Members of the Strass sex workers' union say the law will affect the livelihoods of France's sex workers, estimated to number between 30,000 and 40,000.

Sweden was the first country to criminalise those who pay for sex rather than the prostitutes, introducing the law in 1999. Other countries have since adopted the so-called "Nordic model": Norway in 2008, Iceland in 2009, and Northern Ireland in 2014. Earlier this year, the European parliament approved a resolution calling for the law to be adopted throughout the continent.

But many advocacy groups warn the model makes sex work more dangerous.

Catherine Stephens, an activist with the UK-based International Union of Sex Workers, and a sex worker herself, says criminalisation makes those in the industry "much more likely to have to accept clients who are obscuring their identity, which benefits people who want to perpetrate violence".

Ms Stephens told the BBC that criminalising those who wish to purchase sex makes them less likely to report concerns about a sex worker's well being.

Read the full BBC article here: http://goo.gl/h2PQbR