A coalition of charities in Paris has sounded the alarm over what they claim to be an escalating crackdown on sex workers by French authorities in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In a report jointly issued by 17 non-governmental organizations specializing in supporting individuals involved in the sex industry, concerns were raised regarding the heightened repression and altered policing strategies targeting sex workers.

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The report, released on Wednesday, highlighted the growing presence of police patrols in key areas known for sex work, such as the Boulogne and Vincennes woods on the outskirts of Paris.

Charities operating in these hotspots reported a surge in police activity, including aggressive identity checks on women engaged in sex work.

According to the charities, this “repression-first” approach not only jeopardizes the safety and well-being of sex workers but also fails to address the root causes of exploitation and violence they face.

Instead, they urged authorities to redirect their efforts towards combating criminal organizations responsible for exploiting and endangering sex workers.

Legislative changes in France mark the backdrop of this crackdown, particularly the 2016 law that criminalized the act of paying for sex, shifting the legal focus onto clients rather than sex workers themselves.

However, despite this legal framework, the charities assert that sex workers continue to bear the brunt of enforcement measures, exacerbating their vulnerability.

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French authorities have expressed concerns over a potential surge in prostitution during the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, slated to commence on July 26.

However, the charities contested these assumptions, stating that there has not been a notable influx of sex workers into Paris, as rising accommodation costs push them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

In addition to the targeting of sex workers, other marginalized groups have also faced displacement efforts by French authorities in anticipation of the Games.

Charities working with migrants and the homeless have decried initiatives to relocate these populations out of the capital amidst fears that such measures may exacerbate social inequalities and human rights violations.

The report’s findings underscore a broader concern regarding the impact of mega-events like the Olympics on vulnerable communities, highlighting the need for a more holistic approach to urban development and security planning.

As Paris gears up to welcome millions of international visitors, advocates emphasize the importance of prioritizing the rights and dignity of all residents, particularly those most marginalized.

Efforts to address the complex challenges facing sex workers and other marginalized groups require a nuanced understanding of the structural factors contributing to their vulnerability, coupled with policies that prioritize harm reduction, social inclusion, and human rights.

In the lead-up to the Olympics, the spotlight remains on French authorities to ensure that their approach to security and urban management upholds these principles, fostering a safe and equitable city for all.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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