The gender equality potential of new anti‑prostitution policy: a critical juncture for concrete reform

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In April 2016, France adopted a new law enshrining a conception of prostitution
as a form of violence against women that needed to be ‘abolished’ and setting up a
complex policy framework to achieve this end. This framework comprises a criminal justice ‘pillar’ dedicated to prohibiting and punishing the purchase of sexual
services, and a social service ‘pillar’ dedicated to providing fnancial and social support to individuals involved in selling sex—uniformly assumed to be women and
systematically considered to be victims. The new policy was supposed to break from
70 years of symbolic politics characterised by ambiguous regulation, low political
attention, and lax policy implementation. Drawing on documentary and interview
data, and using the Gender Equality Policy in Practice framework to determine the
policy’s current and potential impact on women’s rights and gender equality, this
article argues that implementation of France’s new anti-prostitution policy is currently at a critical juncture. Budget reductions, a lack of central state steering, and
competing policy priorities are contributing to hollowing out the policy of its capacity to support individuals wishing to exit prostitution while possibly deteriorating
the working conditions of those who cannot or do not wish to exit.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrench Politics
Pages (from-to)153-174
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 261391473