So much for Liberté

A palpable groan of loneliness, despotism and despair was heard drifting over the English Channel on Wednesday as the French government approved fresh legislation that effectively bans prostitution on its shores.

In a hugely regressive move, the French, who bought us Moulin Rouge and the word ‘debauchery’, will now face fines, compulsory courses and possibly worse if they’re caught cavorting with women of ill repute.

Naturally, France’s Socialist Party are responsible for tabling the act, and in their characteristically condescending manner, the left-wing opposition have decided that women are no longer capable of choosing their own careers. Apparently, prostitutes are merely victims forced into the trade due to a lack of other options, and in addition, an equally bizarre ruling means that it is the paying customers who are now considered the criminals.

As a matter of fact, there are no victims or criminals in sexual acts between consenting adults; a theory that provided the rationale for the UK government when it rightly decriminalised homosexuality way back in 1967. However, despite the wishes of the workers themselves, full legalisation of the British sex industry remains illusive to this day, and it is still banned completely in the religious stronghold of Northern Ireland. Nonetheless, public opinion is shifting throughout the UK,  and us Brits continue to move tentatively in the right direction.

On the other hand, our horse-chewing chums have cantered way off-course with this latest decree, and it highlights the growing and unfortunate trend towards authoritarianism in their once enlightened homeland. Since the Paris attacks last November, normal life has been suspended in a perpetual state of emergency, and the curbing of civil liberties has coincided with a heavy-handed consensus across the political class; as well as a rise in popularity of the far-right Front National. All of these developments are a sorry reality for a nation that once flaunted its secular, bohemian and liberal credentials to the world.

Furthermore, If France can proscribe prostitution, then the UK is certainly capable of following suit. We lack the free-spirited cultural obligations of our French counterparts, and our own establishment is infested with a great number of pseudo-feminists who are no doubt creaming themselves over what’s happening on the continent.

Sleazy lorry drivers all over the land will also be licking their lips in anticipation of a similar bill being put forward to the Commons; as we all know that such a law will increase the vulnerability of the workers by pushing the practice further underground. Still, this will be of little concern to the grandstanding prohibitionists, who will no doubt lap up recognition of their ‘progressive’ policies on political chat shows while the mutilated corpse of yet another young lady is pulled out of a canal round the corner from the studios. But hey – at least they’re not getting exploited anymore!

History relentlessly reminds us that prohibition doesn’t work, and that other undesirable social and economic repercussions are inevitable. Apart from compromising the welfare of the people the law is supposed to protect, a spike in organised crime will ensue, and seeing as they’re now compelled to go after harmless (albeit desperately despondent) curb-crawlers, the police will have a hard time keeping a lid on proceedings. This will be compounded by a sizable dent to the country’s GDP, and a likely outbreak of sexually transmitted infections amongst the lower orders will further eat into public funds.

Owing to the edict’s arbitrary nature, practical and moral anomalies will arise as well. For example, If I were to bed a female after buying her a drink in a bar, does that mean I’ve just solicited sex? Have I taken advantage of her, and if so, do I deserve to be slung in a cell for the night, fined, and frogmarched to a ‘prostitution awareness course’ in the morning? How about a family man who has a drunken one night stand with the local brass: is that really worse than having a prolonged but cost-free affair with his wife’s sister? If not, then why on earth are we criminalising the former and not the latter?

Rather than go down that preposterous route, why don’t we just continue along the path of least resistance and relax the rules surrounding prostitution instead? If we did, pimps and traffickers would be starved of trade, women would no longer be patronised, the well-being and personal freedom of our degenerate serfs would be assured, and millions of pounds could be put to good use by the state via corporation tax receipts. Besides, the noble status of brothels as age-old institutions as well as potentially lucrative businesses should be enough to unite libertarians and conservatives of every stripe, and can you imagine the priceless scowls on the faces of the Labour Party’s social justice contingent if we cheekily sneaked such a proposal through parliament? That last point alone should be enough to sway you.

But until that day arrives, we’ll have to sit tight and man the barricades from the rising tide of oppression that is spilling over from mainland Europe. Simultaneously, we must #PrayForFrance, project the words “Je suis une file de joie” on to the white cliffs of Dover, and hope that this quintessentially un-French brush with insanity is a just a passing moment of beige in the vanquished republic’s otherwise rich, proud and colourful history.


The Great British Taxpayer is a political blogger 

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