Human Rights 13 February 2015 26 4408
A prostitute’s work life is a short one; however it’s hard for sex workers to leave the profession once they’re in it. Rosen Hicher from France once used to be a prostitute herself. Now she’s marching for a cause – pushing for a law that will penalise sex worker clients. She and her supporters believe redirecting the blame can help put an end to prostitution. But this initiative has been met with controversy and opposition in France, as well as in Russia.
France is one of the few places in the world where prostitution is legal. However, not everyone is in favor of this. Rosen Hicher, a former sex worker herself, is lobbying for the introduction of a bill which would criminalize clients of prostitution, and not the prostitutes themselves. It is hers and many others’ belief that shifting the blame from the sex worker to the client would help to abolish the practice of prostitution completely.
In order to raise awareness for her bill, Rosen decided to march across France, from the town of Saintes, all the way to Paris. Along the way she is joined by many supporters and some dissidents. The French Union of Sex Workers, for example, opposes the bill, as it would serve to criminalize their profession.
We meet a representative of the French Union of Sex Workers, Thierry, who explains how prostitution has allowed him to live, travel, and study around the world. He has an acquaintance in Russia, Irina Maslova, who is also involved in protecting sex workers. Irina works in St. Petersburg as a liaison for the many prostitutes who walk the streets there. She represents the Silver Rose Unofficial Association of Sex Workers. It is Irina’s mission to help the prostitutes there in any way she can. According to unofficial statistics, around 90% of the sex workers in St. Petersburg are addicted to drugs. In addition, 65% percent of them die from AIDS, and around 80% suffer violence or rape at the hands of clients and the police.
Thierry flies to St. Petersburg to meet Irina and take part in a debate on the issue of street prostitution. They are both opposed to Rosen’s proposition to criminalize clients of sex workers.
The proposed bill is currently being considered in both France and Russia.