The French parliament is to debate a bill which would crack down on prostitution by imposing hefty fines on anyone paying for sex.
Under the bill, those caught paying for sex would face an initial fine of 1,500 euros (£1,250; $2,030).
Critics say the measure would drive the sex trade underground in a country which has up to 40,000 prostitutes.
Protests for and against the bill took place outside the National Assembly in Paris as the debate took place.
Maud Olivier, the Socialist MP who presented the bill, attacked the "hypocrisy" of critics in her opening speech.
Women's Rights Minister and Govt spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told MPs that France was "not a country that welcomes prostitution".
"The question is not sexuality, we are not there to be moral police... the question is about money that feeds pimping," she said
Guy Geoffroy, head of the parliamentary commission created for the bill, also defended the proposition, saying it "advanced women's rights".
"We talk about the satisfaction of male desires but what are we doing about female desires?" he asked.
MPs voted for the fine in a show of hands late on Nov 29,2013Friday night although the full text of the bill - which contains 20 articles - will be put to the vote on December 4,2013
French MPs have approved a bill that will penalise anyone paying for sex.The bill, which was adopted by a vote of 268 to 138, with 79 abstentions, establishes a fine of at least 1,500 euros ($2,030) for buying sexual acts