French lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill against prostitution and sex trafficking that bans buying sex, not selling it. Customers will face fines and be made to attend awareness classes on the harms of the sex trade.

The legislation, which passed 64-12 in the parliament's lower house, the National Assembly, makes French law one of the toughest against sex buyers in Europe.

Prostitution in itself is legal in France — though brothels, pimping and the sale of sex by minors are illegal.

The new measure does away with a 2003 law that banned passive soliciting by sex workers on the street and thus put the legal onus on prostitutes.

This new bill focuses the punishment on the client, introducing a 1,500-euro ($1,700) fine that would rise to 3,750 euros for a sex buyer's second offense.

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