A cross-party commission in France is recommending that the country criminalize paying for sex.
The reason that's surprising is because, as The Guardian reports, it would put France in the company of only a few European countries that have recently passed laws that hand jail time to people who pay for prostitutes:
In 1999 Sweden became the first, followed by Norway and Iceland.
The Socialist Danielle Bousquet and Guy Geoffroy of Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP said clients must understand that any visit to a prostitute encouraged slavery and trafficking — which 80% of the estimated 20,000 sex-workers in France were victims of.
That last bit is the driving force behind the recommendation. French social affairs minister Roselyne Bachelot told The Guardian that there is no such thing as "freely chosen and consenting prostitution."
The French daily Le Monde ran an editorial today railing against the proposal:
In order to defend the dignity and freedom of prostitutes, it would be better to give them the rights and guarantees of other professions, rather than driving them underground.
The piece points out that Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece and Austria have legalized prostitution, "while fighting against trafficking."