In recent days, two major European countries, France and Germany, have moved to amend their prostitution laws to make it riskier to pay for sex. The French and German approaches, however, are fundamentally different.
France decided this week, after almost three years of deliberations, to switch to the so-called Swedish or Nordic model, which exists in Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Northern Ireland: Sex work is legal, but paying for it isn't. Johns will be fined 1,500 euros ($1,700) for the first offense and 3,700 euros for the second.
It doesn't just sound absurd to the uninitiated. French prostitutes marched against the law, carrying typically irreverent signs such as "Whores Are Angry: Don't Touch Our Clients." In real life, of course, France's 30,000 to 40,000 prostitutes still won't be paid in flowers and champagne. They will simply have fewer clients, and those they still get won't care too much whether the sex worker is involved in a legal business or some exploitative underground scheme.