Prostitution in Overseas France
Prostitution in Overseas France varies from area to area with regard to extent, law enforcement and legality.
Overseas France (French: France d'outre-mer) consists of all the French-administered territories outside the European continent. These territories have varying legal status and different levels of autonomy. Almost all inhabited French administrative divisions outside Europe are classified as either overseas regions or overseas collectivites. There is also one Overseas territory and two territories with Special status.
Overseas regions have identical status to regions in metropolitan France and French law is in force.. Selling sex is legal, but related activities such as solicitation and brothel keeping are illegal. On 6 April 2016, the French National Assembly voted to outlaw the buying of sexual services.
Although illegal, prostitution in French Guiana is common, especially in the gold mining areas of the interior. Some people are driven into prostitution by poverty. The HIV rate is the highest of any French territory, and sex workers are at risk due to inconsistent condom use.
Women and children from Suriname are victims of sex trafficking in French Guiana.
Although brothels were outlawed in 1946 by Loi Marthe Richard, the French military continued to run "Bordel militaire de campagne". The last one on French territory was at Kourou until it was closed in 1995 following a complaint of unfair competition from a local pimp.
Despite the law, prostitution occurs in Guadeloupe. The old town centre of Pointe-à-Pitre is taken over by prostitutes from the Dominican Republic plying their trade after dark, and abandoned houses are turned into makeshift brothels. The Grand-Baie area in the Pointe-à-Pitre suburb of Le Gosier is also known for prostitution, as is Saint-François, where many prostitutes work.
Dominican prostitutes also work from bars in Le Gosier. In May 2017 a Dominican prostitution ring was dismantled, and 16 people arrested. The 3 ringleaders, 2 men and a woman, were indicted for pimping, procuring and assisting with illegal residence. The ring smuggled in dozens of Dominican women to work at several locations.
Le Centre Associatif de Santé et d’Accompagnement sur les risques sexuels (CASA) (eng:The Associative Center for Health and Support on Sexual Risks), who provide support and information to sex workers, especially in the area of sexual health, have called for the decriminalisation of sex work and the opening of brothels.
The first laws on prostitution in Martinique were passed in the 1850s. They were designed to keep prostitutes away from public areas but poorly enforced. In the 1930s, after the emergence of tourism and the start of WW2, a new set of laws were enabled. The new laws targeted prostitution in the bars and restaurants of Fort-de-France, which the colonial authorities believed were a major factor of STIs. As a result, all waitresses and hostesses had to have a valid "certificat de non contagiosité", whether they were prostitutes or not. The aim of the authorities was to move all prostitution into brothels. The women were reluctant to work in the brothels, so prostitution remained in the bars and restaurants.
In modern-day Martinique, street prostitution is common in the Terres-Sainville district of Fort-de-France. Most of the prostitutes are migrants from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Haiti, Colombia, Brazil and St. Kitts and Nevis, who have come to Martinique seeking a better life.
Prostitution in Mayotte occurs on the ring road and in the villages of Mtsapere and Kaweni in the commune of Mamoudzou. Many of the prostitutes are illegal immigrants from Madagascar and Comoros, who are transported to the islands at night in kwassa-kwassa boats. An area in Passamainty, also part of the Mamoudzou commune, used for drugs and prostitution, was destroyed by locals in July 2016.
Child prostitution is a problem on the island. Some girls, aged from 11 to 15 years old, turn to prostitution through poverty of their families. Before being destroyed by locals, there was an area in Passamainty where underage girls engaged in prostitution to pay for drugs. There is also organised child prostitution of girls trafficked from Madagascar.
Following the French law prohibiting "passive soliciting" in 2003, street prostitution in Réunion was greatly reduced. Many prostitutes now use classified advertisements in newspapers such as "Clicanoo" (Journal de l'île de La Réunion) and the internet. Some students at the University of La Réunion use prostitution to fund their way through university.
Street prostitution still occurs occurs in Saint-Denis (the capital city) and in Saint-Pierre, especially along the waterfronts. Many of the prostitutes are of foreign origin, mostly from Madagascar (85%) and Mauritius. Often they come to the island on a 15-day tourist visa. There is evidence of organised prostitution rings bringing women from Madagascar and Mauritius.
Since 2015, "Familial Planning 974" have been offering outreach services to prostitutes on the island. Services include advice and information, STI screening, distribution of condoms and gels and self-defence classes.
Overseas collectivities are part of France, but they have their own regional assemblies and legislature.
Prostitution in French Polynesia is legal, while brothels are not. In French Polynesia's capital, Papeete, it was estimated that there were about 100 prostitutes working the streets in 2012. Of these 30% were female, 20% male and 50% transsexual (known as "raerae").
When Captain Samuel Wallis discovered Tahiti in 1767, he traded with the islanders for fresh provisions. The Polynesians had no source of iron, and the women sold sex for nails. Wallis had to ban shore leave for the crew for fear of the ship collapsing as so many nails had been removed from the structure. When Captain Cook arrived in 1769, the price had risen from one nail to three nails. By the time of Cook's 3rd visit in 1774, the currency had changed from nails to European clothes and red parrot feathers (considered sacred).
The growth of tourism starting in the 1970s caused an increase in prostitution in Saint Martin. Although outlawed in 1946 by the "Loi de Marthe Richard", brothels were tolerated until the introduction of the new Penal code in 1991. One hotel, now closed, was reserved fot French civil servants and reputedly offered the guests European prostitutes.
Over the years women from different countries have migrated to the country and worked as prostitutes. In the 1960s it was women from Haiti, Dominican women followed in the 1970s. In the early 1990s, South American women from Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil came to the island. Later in that decade Asian, Jamaican and Guyanan prostitutes arrived. Currently most prostitutes are from Haiti, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Jamaica.
Despite laws prohibiting soliciting, street prostitution still exists, especially in the Quartier-d'Orleans.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
This group of small islands off the coast of Canada is the only remaining French territory in the former New France. Siegfried Borelli and Willy Starck found no evidence of prostitution on the islands.
Wallis and Futuna
Uvea (Wallis Island), became a place where whalers would stop to take on fresh provisions in the 19th century. The women of the island engaged in prostitution with the sailors. In 1870, Amelia Tokagahahau Aliki Queen of Uvea, approved a new legal code written by French missionary Pierre Bataillon. The code included fines for prostitution. The islands of Uvea, Fortuna and Sigave became a French protectorate in 1889 and French law came into force.
Whilst the three kings of the islands, assisted by a prime minister and a ‘chefferie’, have limited powers to legislate on local matters, the laws of France are applicable in the country. These include the laws on prostitution, e.g. prohibition of purchasing sex, solicitation, pimping and brothels.
There is one Overseas territory.
French Southern and Antarctic Lands
The French Southern and Antarctic Lands consist of small islands off the coast of Madagascar, small isolated islands in the south Indian Ocean and France's claim in Antarctica. The islands are uninhabited, or sparsely inhabited (total population 150 in summer, 300 in winter), so there is no known prostitution.
Following the 1998 Nouméa Accord, the islands of New Caledonia are moving from an overseas collectivity to a self-governing nation. On 12 December 2016, the government added the French Law of June 2016 that criminalised the purchasers of sex to its Penal Code. Related activities such as brothel keeping and pimping have been illegal since 1946.
In May 1940, the French Army brought a large house in the capital Nouméa. They leased it to a Mme Benitier to set up a brothel. This was recognised as a "maison de tolérance" and known as The Pink House. The house became popular with American troops during their build up in the country in 1942/3. American military police and medics were on duty at the house to keep order and prevent the spread of STIs.
- "Sex Work Law - Countries | Sexuality, Poverty and Law". Institute of Development Studies. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Prostitution : le Parlement adopte définitivement la pénalisation des clients 'Le Monde', accessed 7 April 2016
- Bellos, Alex; Oyapock, River (17 December 2007). "Illegal, polluting and dangerous: the gold rush in French Guiana". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Fayet, Rosane (6 April 2017). "Why are the people of French Guiana so angry?". Equal Times. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Parriault, Marie-Claire et all. "Predictive factors of unprotected sex for female sex workers: first study in French Guiana, the French territory with the highest HIV prevalence" (PDF). Centre d'Investigation Clinique Antilles Guyane. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "France 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "France's military brothels: Hidden history of the First World War - France 24". France 24. 13 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Borredon, Laurent (27 December 2011). "Crime and unemployment dog Guadeloupe". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Scordia, Pierre (18 August 2017). "Guadeloupe: a French island somewhere between paradise and desperation – FORM-Idea". Form Idea. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "Les maisons abandonnées transformées en lieux de prostitution - Économie en Guadeloupe". France-Antilles Guadeloupe (in French). 13 October 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "L'association CASA Gwadloup' à Grand-Baie : un dispositif d'accueil, d'information et de prévention sur les maladies liées au métier du sexe : " …s'il y avait des maisons closes, la situation serait plus facile au niveau de l'hygiène… "". Koezyon-Glob (in French). 6 October 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "Guadeloupe : un réseau de prostitution démantelé, trois mis en examen". Le Parisien. (in French). 17 May 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "Prostitution et clandestinité : coup de filet à Grand-Baie - Faits divers en Guadeloupe". France-Antilles Guadeloupe (in French). 16 May 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "Prostitution : des locations épinglées pour leur service " tout compris " - Faits divers en Guadeloupe". France-Antilles Guadeloupe (in French). Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Sequin, Caroline (7 January 2017). "Uprooting "Fleurs de Trottoirs":: Displacing Clandestine Prostitution and Negotiating Respectable Sex in Colonial Martinique 1938–47". American Historical Association. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- "HIV /AIDS Profile: Martinique" (PDF). 7 Billion. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Boulai, Melinda (4 October 2014). "Prostitution : une vie de misère et des rêves d'ailleurs - Toute l'actualité de la Martinique sur Internet - FranceAntilles.fr". France-Antilles Martinique (in French). Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- "Mayotte, la vérité! Attention dur !!!". Philmayotte2013 (in French). 31 August 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- François, Fabrice (4 January 2013). "Mayotte : La prostitution clandestine en augmentation". Zinfos 974, l'info de l'ile de La Réunion (in French). Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Mayotte : Un quartier de la prostitution détruit par les habitants | Comores Infos". Comores Infos (in French). 10 July 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Que devient le chef-lieu de Mayotte le soir? - Na riké hachiri pour MAYOTTE". Penseau976. (in French). 20 April 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- Lichfield, John (21 March 2005). "French police turn attention to 'the pimp on the corner' - Europe - World - The Independent". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Les prostituées de La Réunion se mettent à l'heure d'Internet". Panapress (in French). 7 July 2003. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Prostitution sur Clicanoo". Le Pirate de la Réunion (in French). 11 April 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- Robert, Gabriel (2 September 2013). "Social : Etudiants : de la précarité à la prostitution". Imaz Press Réunion : l'actualité de la Réunion en photos (in French). Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- Legros, Geoffroy Géraud (10 November 2013). "Prostitution : pour l'Abolition, résolument". 7 Lames la Mer (in French). Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "La prostitution de plus en plus risquée à la Réunion". Linfo (in French). 2 November 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "La Réunion – Recrutement de prostituées depuis Madagascar". Mouvement des Citoyens Malagasy de Paris (in French). 11 December 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Des mauriciennes impliquées dans un réseau de prostitution à l'ile de la Réunion. | TOP FM". Top FM Radio (in French). 17 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "" Belle de Nuit Sud " Le Planning Familial 974 - La Réunion". Reunion Planning Familial. (in French). Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "French Polynesia - Alcohol, drugs & prostitution - The Basetrip". The Basetrip. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
- Hofman, Helene (15 February 2012). "Street prostitutes on the increase in French Polynesia". ABC Radio Australia. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- Bolyanatz 2004, p. 88
- Henningham 1992, p. 2
- Sturma 2002, p. 25
- INSEE. "Recensement de la population en Guadeloupe - 402 119 habitants au 1er janvier 2013" (in French). Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Les risques sanitaires à Saint-Barthélemy - Voyage Zen - Conseils voyage et santé". Voyage Zen - Conseils voyage et santé (in French). 12 August 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- Benoit 1999, pp. 27–42
- Le Devin, Willy (15 September 2017). "Saint-Martin : une île, plusieurs mondes". Libération (in French). Retrieved 30 December 2017.
- "France's hurricane-hit St Martin on guard for health threats". Terra Daily. 16 September 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
- Borelli & Starck 1957
- Fischer 2002, p. 115
- Kirk 2012, p. 160
- "The World at War - Wallis & Futuna 1616 - 1961". Schudak. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Wallis and Futuna country brief". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Journal Officiel de la Nouvelle-Caledonie" (PDF). Juridoc. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
- Munholland & Munholland 2006, p. 152
- Brier, Morris (24 February 1992). "Korean 'Comfort Women' Not Prostitutes; New Caledonia, 1944". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
- Benoit, Catherine (1 July 1999). "Sex, AIDS, migration, and prostitution : human trafficking in the Caribbean". New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids. 73 (3–4): 27–42. doi:10.1163/13822373-90002576. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
- Bolyanatz, Alexander H. (2004). Pacific Romanticism: Tahiti and the European Imagination. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780897897877.
- Borelli, Siegfried; Starck, Willy (1 January 1957). Die Prostitution als psychologisches Problem (in German). Springer. p. 54. ISBN 978-3642863509.
- Fischer, Steven R. (2002). A History of the Pacific Islands. Macmillan International Higher Education. ISBN 9781403913753.
- Henningham, Stephen (1992). France and the South Pacific: A Contemporary History. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824813055.
- Kirk, Robert W. (2012). Paradise Past: The Transformation of the South Pacific, 1520-1920. McFarland. ISBN 9780786469789.
- Munholland, K; Munholland, J. Kim (11 Dec 2006). Rock of Contention: Free French and Americans at War in New Caledonia, 1940-1945. Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1845453008.
- Sturma, Michael (2002). South Sea Maidens: Western Fantasy and Sexual Politics in the South Pacific. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313316746.