A petition against the abolition of prostitution has created an uproar in France, fueling an already intense debate on buying and selling sex.
“We consider that everyone has the right to freely sell their charms — and even to like doing so,” reads the text, to be published in the monthly opinion magazine Causeur later this month.
“All together, we declare: Don’t touch my whore!” it adds, slamming a bill introduced in parliament that seeks to reinforce the protection of prostitutes in France and to fight against those who pay for sex.
“We do not want lawmakers to adopt rules governing our desires and pleasures,” reads the text, seen on Wednesday.
Prostitution itself is allowed in France, but soliciting, pimping and minors selling sex are prohibited.
The bill, to be debated at the end of the month, seeks to penalize clients instead of sex workers in a bid to phase out prostitution.
It looks to impose a 1,500 euro (US$2,000) fine on those paying for sex and to double that if the person is caught doing it again.
Several prominent figures are signatories of the petition, including author Frederic Beigbeder and lawyer Richard Malka.
“We do not defend prostitution, we defend freedom, and when parliament gets involved in adopting rules on sexuality, everyone’s freedom is threatened,” the petition reads.
The so-called “Manifesto of 343 bastards” echoes another text published in 1971 by 343 women declaring they had had an abortion when it was still illegal.
The manifesto was widely condemned on Twitter and French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem also criticized it on Wednesday.
She said the 1971 manifesto had been signed by women “who demanded to be able to freely decide what to do with their bodies. The 343 bastards demand the right to decide what to do with the bodies of others. I think there is no need for further comment.”
The Zeromacho network, meanwhile, which groups together nearly 2,000 men fighting against prostitution, also slammed the manifesto.
“This reactionary petition claims that wanting to abolish prostitution is ‘a war against men.’ It’s actually the opposite: We Zeromachos maintain that fighting for the abolition of prostitution is first and foremost a fight for equality,” the network said.