Those debates reveal a convergence in the political agenda of some secular or republican feminists and the current political class in power. At the heart of the discourses legitimizing state intervention in the lives of prostitutes and veiled women lie the issues of “liberté” (freedom) and “dignité” (dignity), in the French republican sense of these terms. Republican discourse considers veiled women to be oppressed by their culture and religion and perceives prostitutes as the victims of patriarchy and capitalism. In both cases, the political class has denied their capacity to be active agents in charge of their own lives. In spite of some attempts at broadening the spectrum of interpretations, their agency is automatically disqualified as “false consciousness” and blindness to their own oppression. The parliamentary report on the practice of full veiling released in January 2010 insists on the “servitude volontaire” (“voluntary enslavement”) of the women adopting such practices. In the same manner, parliamentary debates preceding the vote on the law on “sécurité intérieure” (internal security) of 2002 reaffirmed that prostitutes are to be considered primarily as victims whose activities are incompatible with human dignity.
Billaud, Julie; Castro, Julie, “Whores and Niqabées: The Sexual Boundaries of French Nationalism”, in: French Politics, Culture & Society, Volume 31, Number 2, Summer 2013, p. 91