Virtual sex: being a “camgirl” or a “camboy” does not fall under prostitution, according to the Court of Cassation

It is a decision that is not virtual.

Virtual sex: being a “camgirl” or a “camboy” does not fall under prostitution, according to the Court of Cassation

It is a decision that is not virtual. The highest judicial court rejected on Wednesday, in a judgment, an appeal from the National Confederation of Catholic Family Associations (CNAFC) to qualify the sulphurous and lucrative business of sex via webcam as prostitution. In recent years, this pornographic offering has exploded onto hundreds of online platforms.

This association, whose objective is to "promote the family", contested a dismissal, partially confirmed by the Court of Appeal in February 2021, after a judicial investigation opened in 2010 concerning "facts observed on four French sites in pornographic character". "This complaint concerned, in particular, behavior consisting, for young women, in engaging, in front of a camera, in acts of a sexual nature, broadcast live by an audiovisual means of communication to customers who solicited them and remunerated them by a remote means of payment", or the practice of "camgirl", specifies the Court of Cassation.

Prostitution not defined by law

For the CNFAC, the managers of these websites were liable to prosecution for "aggravated pimping" because the "models" of the site would engage in what is qualified as "prostitution". But the Court of Cassation contradicted this reasoning and confirmed that of the Court of Appeal, which starts from the incrimination by the Criminal Code of pimping, "which consists for anyone, in any way whatsoever, in aiding or assisting prostitution others, to protect this activity, to convince a person to engage in it, to benefit from it or to facilitate the exercise of it".

To "determine whether a behavior can be prosecuted as pimping, it is necessary, beforehand, to define what falls under prostitution", which has no definition in the law, but which since a judgment of the criminal chamber of the Court of Cassation of 1996, is defined as a practice which "consists of lending oneself, for remuneration, to physical contact of any kind whatsoever, in order to satisfy the sexual needs of others".

In the absence of physical contact, to say that the practice of "caming" would fall under prostitution "supposes an extension of the definition" of this practice, which the legislator did not "intend" to do, "including at the occasion of recent laws penalizing certain behaviors of a sexual nature", dismisses the Court of Cassation.


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