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French government bans paying for sex

France has overhauled prostitution laws by making it illegal to pay for sex.

The French parliament started debating the bill in 2013, but it has been beset by two years of rows between politicians.

French media says under the new law, people who pay for sex can be fined $1700 (€1500) for a first offence, rising to $4270 (€3,750) thereafter.

A second offence would also be put on a criminal record and offenders would need to attend classes highlighting the danger of prostitution.

The law was passed Wednesday by 64 votes to 12 but many French MPs chose to abstain from the vote.

Maud Olivier, a socialist MP behind the new bill, said she hoped that it would lead to a new perception of sex workers as "victims".

"This law is essential to ending the idea that it is normal to buy someone's body," she told AFP news agency.

The vote reverses legislation passed by Nicolas Sarkozy's administration in 2003 which placed the legal burden on sex workers, rather than those seeking to buy.

According to Reuters the French government says 90 percent of the country's sex workers are victims of Romanian, Nigerian and Chinese trafficking networks.

However some sex workers are unhappy with the ruling, one telling Reuters that sex workers now won't be able to declare what they earn or pay taxes.