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French debate 'paying for sex' ban

Protesters have gathered outside France's National Assembly as MPs began debating a controversial bill that would decriminalise prostitutes but fine their customers.

Prostitutes in masks were among about 150 opponents protesting outside Parliament's lower house in Paris today, some hoisting white banners that read "Sexwork is work" in English.

They faced off with several dozen people who support the bill - some with orange signs that said: "Our bodies are not merchandise."

The proposed law would introduce a 1,500-euro (about £1,250) fine for sex customers and decriminalise the estimated 40,000 prostitutes in France - in an attempt to fight human trafficking networks.

President Francois Hollande's Socialist government backs the bill. The Socialist-led Assembly is set to vote on it on December 4, and if passed it would go to the Senate.

AP

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