Outraged sex workers gathered outside the French parliament after lawmakers passed a law to impose fines on the clients of prostitutes. The new law gives France some of the sternest legislation on prostitution in Europe.
"We need our clients, and our clients need us. It goes both ways. If not, the repercussions will be vast. There will be rapes. Men will be drinking and taking drugs and will force girls into doing things. Clandestine workers will offer even lower prices. The mafia will rise. It will be a mess. What will happen will be horrible. Frankly, the problem will be 10 thousand times bigger,"one of them says.
Those looking for paid sex will face a 1,500 Euro fine, while the act of soliciting itself will no longer be punished.
Some prostitutes plan to leave France for a less restrictive European country.
Prostitute and human rights activist Gaia says, "Right now with the actual law proposition there is nobody who is working very well, so now the people are obliged to move to another country and to pay, of course, somebody to give a place to start working."
Women's Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem feels differently and saysthat prostitution, in any form, is unacceptable and she underlined that the aim of the current government was to suppress the trade altogether.
This new law was introduced in the light of increased human trafficking over recent years. It is estimated that some 90 percent of France's estimated 20,000 to 40,000 prostitutes are victims of Nigerian, Chinese and Romanian trafficking networks.
That is quite a jump from just over a decade ago when only one out of five prostitutes were foreign and mafia rings were far less omnipresent.
The reform should be a welcoming one, but it is a radical shift from the country's traditionally tolerant attitude towards prostitution and will take some getting used to, especially for the sex workers who are likely to take the greatest hit.