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Prostitution in France the exchange of sexual acts for money was legal until April , but several surrounding activities were illegal, like operating a brothel , living off the avails pimping , and paying for sex with someone under the age of 18 the age of consent for sex is In the Napoleonic era , France became the model for the regulatory approach to prostitution. In the 20th century, however, a policy shift became apparent. Brothels became illegal in , and France signed the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others in France thus became a major supporter of the international abolitionist movement for the eradication of prostitution see Abolitionism in France.
Prostitutes were not marginalized, but integrated into society where they had a role to play. In stories which were often ribald , prostitutes would be complicit with other women in avenging men. The great Cathedral of Chartres had a window endowed by prostitutes The Prodigal Son in the same way as other windows were endowed by various other trade guilds The Trade Windows.
During the Middle Ages , the various authorities, civil or noble, oversaw prostitution as an institution. Charlemagne AD was amongst those rulers who attempted to suppress prostitution, declaring flogging lashes as a punishment in his capitularies. This was primarily aimed at the common man, since harems and concubines were common amongst the ruling classes.
Some idea of the seriousness with which the state regarded the offense is provided by the fact that lashes was the severest sentence prescribed by the Code Alaric. Offenders also had their hair cut off, and in the case of recidivism , could be sold as slaves. There is no evidence that any of this was effective. In the interim, Louis IX attempted to ban prostitution in December , with disastrous social consequences and widespread protests. The decree ordered the expulsion of all "women of evil life" from the kingdom and confiscation of their belongings, but simply drove the trade underground.
Eventually he was forced to revoke this by Although still railing against women who were "free with their bodies and other common harlots", he acknowledged the pragmatic desirability of housing them away from respectable streets and religious establishments, and so obliged them to reside outside of the borders of the city walls. His resolve to do away with prostitution was affirmed in a letter of to the regents, as he set out on the Eighth Crusade , in which he refers to the need to extirpate the evil, root and branch.