File picture: Paul Sakuma/AP

Paris - Barely clothed or naked and perched suggestively on a bed or chair, the plastic dolls on offer in the most controversial "brothel" in Paris have led to accusations that they could encourage rape.

Since February, four silicone figures have been on offer at hourly rates of €89 (about R 1300) in a discreet apartment in the south of the city, far from the historic red-light district around the Pigalle area in the north. 

Following complaints from women's groups and left-wing local lawmakers, the Paris council is set to decide this week whether to close the 21st-century newcomer to the world's oldest profession. 

Xdolls operates from the three-room apartment as a games business, leading Communists on the Paris local assembly to ask city authorities to clarify whether the law has been broken.

[WARNING: SENSITIVE CONTENT] The evolution of sex dolls


The figures "present a degrading image of women and the noises they make could sound like rape," the head of the Communist group, Nicolas Bonnet-Oulaldj, told reporters this week, adding that he wanted the business closed.

Xdolls represents a regulatory headache, but police have investigated the owner and cleared him and there have been no complaints from neighbours, Le Parisien newspaper reported.

Lorraine Questiaux, a lawyer and spokeswoman for the feminist group Nid, said there was no legal basis to shut down the service operating from the three-room apartment, but she told the newspaper it raised a moral question.

"Can we allow a business in France based on the idea of promoting rape?" she said.

Other politicians in Paris have defended its right to exist.

"Wanting to close a business supplying sex toys, which concerns individual liberties between consenting adults, is not legal," leading centrist Eric Aziere has said.

In 2016, France changed its law on prostitution after years of parliamentary debate to make anyone caught using a sex worker liable for a fine of €1 500 for a first offence.