Injection rooms open in Paris
From Nations Presse:
Drug addicts wanted it, the Socialists have done it. The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, eager to construct great and beautiful things before his term ends, has opened the very first public place reserved for the use of drugs.
Note: These injection rooms are called in French "salles de shoot". They have been set up in many European countries and Australia, but an article in Le Figaro from October 2012 indicates that the results of this costly and dangerous experiment have been less than beneficial for society. For even though there have been fewer deaths from overdoses, there are now more drug addicts than ever. And many addicts report that they are taking more, not fewer, drugs thanks to the injection rooms.
(…) Officially, the measure is justified by the need to prevent various diseases linked to the uncleanliness of syringes, and also to provide nurses and doctors in case of an overdose. A heart-warming concern, obviously financed - unwillingly - by the Parisian taxpayer. And yet, in a civilized society, each one is expected to be responsible for his choices, his acts, and to assume the consequences.
(…) The care provided is even more absurd when one considers that most addicts, in order to buy their drugs, rob and attack the most vulnerable people: the young, women, the elderly. Tomorrow, having assaulted an old lady, they will be able to calmly use the product of their crime in an injection room where they will be treated as respectable people. Of course, these rooms and their surroundings will quickly become a magnet for dealers and their clients. Tough luck for the neighborhood residents: maybe with a little luck, by hugging the walls, and lowering their eyes, they will be able to come and go from their homes without being beaten and stripped.
The article goes on to a consideration of why houses of prostitution might be re-opened also on grounds of hygiene, like the injection rooms:
Don't those women also deserve to benefit from a protected place and sanitary conditions to ply their trade? Although a certain number of them were forced into prostitution by mafia-style networks, most chose freely to indulge in their morbid pleasure: therefore, they should profit from the same benevolence. Strangely this is not the thinking of the Socialists and their hysterical feminists such as Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (government spokesperson and minister for women's rights) who only see the condition of prostitutes as debasing. Not realizing that this debasement also characterizes the behavior of addicts. (…)
Note: I was hoping to provide a short summary of the laws that now govern prostitution in France, but the Wikipedia page is long and so complicated, I still don't feel I have a handle on it. Brothels were closed in 1946, but the practice is still legal within the parameters of restrictions and limitations that vary greatly from one government to another. Two excerpts:
- Brothels ("Maisons closes") remain illegal but operate discretely and clandestinely. Since their official closure in 1946 there have been periodic calls for their re-opening. In 1990 Michèle Barzach, a former Minister of Health (1986–88) suggested re-opening them in 1990 as a public health measure. A row erupted in 2002 with the proposal by Françoise de Panafieu, which divided French feminists, with Gisèle Halimi denouncing it, but Élisabeth Badinter seeing it as an issue of "the right to dispose freely of one's body"
- A man or woman may seek or offer compensation for sexual services (except for paying for those under 18) but may not advertise this fact. "Racolage" (soliciting), including "racolage passif" (passive soliciting) is prohibited. This is defined as standing in a public place known for prostitution, dressed in revealing attire, and is punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of €3750. Owning or operating a brothel is illegal.
All forms of "proxénétisme" (procuring) are illegal.
Finally, Americans may enjoy reading the section from Wikipedia about the rules of conduct imposed on our soldiers during WWI.
I lost a lot of time looking for a sample of addiction art to illustrate this post but could not settle on anything definitive. I was reminded that the great French poet Charles Baudelaire was a drug user, although he believed a true poet does not need drugs in order to be inspired. Below, his essay on drugs Les paradis artificiels (Artificial Paradise).
Below, a mid-eighteenth century painting showing prostitutes being carted off to la Salpêtrière, today a hospital, then a house of correction for wayward girls, beggars and the mentally and physically ill, though medical care was not provided there. Artist: Etienne Jeaurat.