In France, SEXHUM has focused on the impact of the sex purchase law (n° 2016-444), which introduced the criminalization of clients, on the lives and rights of migrant (and non-migrant) sex workers. These are the publications the project produced so far, based on its original ethnographic and interview data.
1) Calderaro, C. and Giametta, C. (2019) ‘“The Problem of Prostitution”: Repressive Policies in the Name of Migration Control, Public Order, and Women’s Rights in France’, Anti-Trafficking Review, 12: 155-171. Available online: http://www.antitraffickingreview.org
The paper discusses the political debates that led to the adoption of the sex purchase ban (the Swedish model) in France in April 2016. It examines the convergence of French mainstream feminists and traditional neo-abolitionist actors in the fight against prostitution, and its impact on sex workers’ rights and wellbeing.
2) Mai, N., Giametta, C. and Le Bail, H. (2018) The Impact of the ‘Swedish model’ in France: Chronicle of a Disaster Foretold. Available online: https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/nicola-mai-calogero-giametta-h-l-ne-le-bail/impact-of-swedish-model-in-france-chronicl
The article presents the findings of the research undertaken for Medecins du Monde/Doctors the World by Dr Calogero Giametta of SEXHUM and Dr Hélène Le Bail of Medecins du Monde/ Doctors of the World and Sciences Po Paris.
The report ‘What do Sex Workers Think about the French Prostitution Act?’ shows that the sex purchase law (n° 2016-444) ended up achieving the opposite of its intended aims. The majority of those interviewed believe that the criminalisation of clients is more detrimental to their well-being and safety than the previous laws against soliciting. They feel that they have far less control over their working conditions because of the falling number of clients since the new law came into effect. Moreover, the study shows that at a local level the law has not always suspended municipal bylaws and regular identity checks, which has resulted in sex workers being pushed away from their usual work places and city centres into more dangerous, isolated and unknown places.
The law has impoverished many sex workers, especially those who were already experiencing economic difficulties and particularly migrant women working in the street. Sex workers have been increasingly obliged to accept clients whom they would have previously refused. Generally, the decreasing time available to negotiate with clients has made it harder for sex workers to impose their conditions. Many interviews highlighted a worrying decrease in condom use as well as increased difficulties continuing treatment for those who are HIV positive. Stress created by worsening working conditions is also at the root of various psychosomatic health issues, from alcohol and drug consumption, to depression and suicidal thoughts. The results of the qualitative research also reveal that cases of violence, of all kinds, have increased and that impoverishment, increased health risks and increased exposure to violence form a vicious circle.
A summary of the report in English and the full report in French can be downloaded from the links at the end of the article.