November 27, 2021

Underage prostitution: the government’s plan

Raise awareness, identify, protect, repress. It is a plan in four main parts and thirteen actions against the prostitution of minors that presented, Monday, November 15, the Secretary of State for child protection, Adrien Taquet. Two ministers (Eric Dupond-Moretti for justice, Gérald Darmanin for the interior), a minister delegate, Nadia Haye, in charge of the city, and a secretary of state, Sarah El Haïry, for youth, had made the trip to the Ministry of Health, a sign of the government’s desire to “Get out of denial” in the face of this still poorly understood phenomenon, in the words of Adrien Taquet.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 young people would be affected, the vast majority of them 15 to 17 year olds. Half would have lived their first prostitution experience between 14 and 15 years old, according to the report of the working group chaired by the former attorney general of Paris, the magistrate Catherine Champrenault, delivered in July. Their recommendations largely inspire the announcements made in this interdepartmental plan, endowed with 14 million euros, and which will be implemented over the next nine months.

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One of the challenges will be, during the first quarter of 2022, to establish an inventory of adolescent prostitution, while all the players agree to underline its expansion. Certain elements are admittedly already identified by the associations and institutions which are in contact with the young people concerned, and sometimes their parents, but “We really need to have a real national study”, rejoices Armelle Le Bigot-Macaux, president of Agir contre la prostitution des enfants (ACPE), member of the working group. Welcoming the “Awareness” government, it also welcomes the launch, in the first half of next year, of an awareness campaign aimed at the general public, including on social networks.

Improvement of the penal response

In its report, the working group insisted on the need to take the phenomenon into account as a whole. The recommendation has been heard: the measures presented on Monday relate both to the prevention and identification of prostitution behaviors, to support for those concerned and to improving the penal response. On this last aspect, the designation of a referent magistrate within each public prosecutor’s office is planned. Furthermore, “Including in the code of social action and families the fact that prostitution places the minor in a situation of danger and therefore inscribes him in the field of child protection is a fundamental step in the care of the minor victim”, defended the Keeper of the Seals. The measure is, however, symbolic: since 2002, the law has in fact prohibited child prostitution and protects the minor concerned.

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