Law enforcement officers from Cannes and Grasse have made 14 arrests while dismantling a prostitution ring in Mandelieu and Fréjus. It comes just days after the French government voted in a major reform of the legal framework surrounding prostitution in the country.
The high end prostitution ring offered massages and related services via the internet. Many such websites are sprouting up all over the web and are, in most cases, disguised prostitution, reports the Nice Matin.
‘Operation Janus’ took place on Sunday 8th and Monday 9th December after a warrant was issued by a judge in Grasse. The 14 arrested include about 10 prostitutes as well as procurers and middlemen. Charges include organised prostitution, but there could be more to come.
“We need time to determine exactly what role each of them played in the organisation,” Grasse prosecutor Georges Gutierrez told the press.
Prostitution laws in France are somewhat vague and a reform has just been adopted by lawmakers in Paris. Until recently, having sex in exchange for money was not technically illegal. However, active or passive solicitation on the part of the prostitute was punished by up to two months imprisonment and a 3,750 euro fine.
Organised prostitution and procurement, on the other hand, is explicitly illegal and punished by up to seven years imprisonment and a 150,000 euro fine.
The new law, which was voted in on 4th December, goes after clients with a 1,500 euro fine, which is doubled in the case of repeated offences. It also repealed the notion of “passive solicitation”. The reform was criticised by the Green party, among other lawmakers, who defends the idea that prostitution can be consensual.
Women’s rights minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem announced back in 2012 that she wanted to eradicate prostitution. A study by le Mouvement du Nid estimates that, in France, one in eight men have paid for sex at least once.