Bring back the brothel

France must bring back the brothel to protect its prostitutes from exploitation, trafficking and aggression in the street, an MP from Nicolas Sarkozy's rightwing party has said.

Chantal Brunel, a member of the ruling UMP, called on French authorities to study the possibility of legalising centres where sex workers could serve clients within a regulated and protected framework.

It was time, she said, to move away from attempts to stamp out prostitution and instead focus on making the sex trade more safe and transparent.

According to a CSA opinion poll, Brunel's stance is supported by a majority of French people: 59% of respondents supported the reopening of so-called maisons closes (literally, closed houses).