Majority of French support reopening of brothels
More than 60 years after Paris shut its famed maisons closes, or brothels, an MP from President Sarkozy's UMP party is campaigning to legalise them.
Chantal Brunel, who was appointed last month to head the national watchdog on sexual equality, is arguing that crime would be cut and sex workers would benefit from "sexual services centres" similar to those run by most of France's neighbours. A national poll by the CSA agency found that 59pc of the French public approved the reopening of the regulated brothels that were abolished in 1946. The proposal was supported by 70pc of men and 49pc of women. Only 13pc of women were opposed, with 38pc undecided, according to the poll for 'Le Parisien' newspaper.
A tough law introduced by Mr Sarkozy in 2002, when he was interior minister, created an offence of "passive soliciting", allowing police to charge any woman deemed by her appearance to be seeking custom in public, even if she makes no approach to potential clients.
The "Sarkozy law" has resulted in the removal of prostitutes -- 80pc of them foreigners -- from the boulevards of Paris and other towns, driving them to more dangerous back streets, parks and on to the internet, campaigners say.
As many as 30,000 women and men are said to ply their trade in France, along with 60,000 part-timers. (© The Times, London)