Italy’s interior minister Roberto Maroni, who orchestrated his country’s controversial crackdown on illegal immigration, has suggested that by August, prostitution should be legalized in Italy.
Maroni described his country’s current law as “repressive,” saying that prostitution has its “pros and cons.”
He claimed that thousands of people are currently serving jail sentences in Italy for infractions of those laws, and said that such punishment exemplifies an “adolescent reaction” to the sex trade.
Italian poll shows heavy support for legalized prostitution
Italy’s Donna Moderna magazine has published a survey showing that a substantial majority of Italians support the legalization of prostitution.
The survey respondents accepted the argument that legalizing brothels would protect prostitutes and move them off the streets.
The survey found substantial support for two different arguments in favor of legalization: 47% of those polled supported the legalization of prostitution as a means to “clean up the streets” while 38% said the measure would be useful to protect
prostitutes from exploitation and violence.
Just 11% of respondents opposed legalized prostitution on the grounds that it would encourage the practice, and a mere 4% opposed the the idea on moral grounds.
Daniela Santaché of The Right Party supports the legalization of prostitution and has promised to collect 500,000 signatures in support of the proposal.
Most Italian political parties oppose legalized prostitution and the government’s undersecretary for the family, Carlo Giovanardi, has suggested heavy fines and the publication of the names of people who pick up prostitutes
18th June 2008
An amendment on prostitution presented by the president of the Senate Justice Commission, Filippo Berselli, and much discussed in the past days, is removed from the decree on security.
We have decided to remove all issues not strictly relevant for the measure from the decree explained Berselli.
Changes to prostitution law will now be tabled in a separate government bill on the topic.
Padua has become the second big Italian city to boost fines for clients who use street prostitutes.
Both Padua and Verona have now brought in fines of 500 euros for clients caught with streetwalkers enabled by greater powers given to city mayors by the government's emergency security decree.
'The security decree allows mayors to apply a range of fines from 50 to 500 euros, depending on the gravity of the behaviour of the person committing the crime,' explained Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi.
'In this case we have decided to apply the maximum sanction of 500 euros for the violation of our anti-prostitution order: a deterrent that's much stronger than the 36 euros for holding up traffic circulation that mayors had to make do with
before the security decree,' Tosi said.
At the moment only the exploitation of prostitution - pimping - is illegal in Italy, but city mayors combat the phenomenon through the use of fines, often via road traffic or public decency laws.
Padua was the first city to introduce an experimental scheme last year harassing clients and introducing fines of 50 euros, which resulted in prostitutes demonstrating against the measure in the streets and offering anyone slapped with a fine a
' We fined around 500 people under the scheme, but we've always said it wasn't effective because the sum was too low. Now with a sanction ten times higher we hope to see street prostitution reduced to zero,' said Padua's city policing
assessor Marco Carrai.
Although the centre-right government is mulling over plans to criminalise both soliciting and using prostitutes, these have yet to get out of the starting box. Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna and Interior Minister Roberto Maroni
co-authored a new prostitution bill in July which has still not been brought before cabinet for approval.
Under the bill, prostitutes and clients could be fined up to 3,000 euros, while repeat offences would be punishable with 5-15 days in jail.
It also includes harsher penalties for pimps and those who have sex with minors, as well as ''assisted repatriation'' for minors without a legal guardian in Italy.
Right-wing politician Daniela Santanche' is meanwhile convinced that reopening brothels is the only way of getting prostitutes of the streets. In June she announced she would begin collecting the 500,000 signatures necessary for a referendum to
overturn the 1958 Merlin law - named after bill sponsor and Socialist senator Angelina (Lina) Merlin - which closed down Italian brothels.
A survey for the Donna Moderna magazine in the same month showed that 85% of Italians are in favour of reopening brothels.
According to a recent study there are some 100,000 prostitutes in Italy, 65% of whom work on the streets and 35% in private residences or clubs.
The study also calculated that prostitutes in Italy charge an average of 30 euros per customer and generate a turnover in the neighborhood of some 90 million euros a month. Clients were said to number around nine million.
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Cabinet has approved a bill to make street prostitution a crime.
Currently, prostitution is legal in Italy but brothels and exploitation are not.
Thursday's measure would outlaw prostitution in public places like streets and parks. If the bill is approved by Parliament, prostitutes and clients will face up to 15 days in jail and fines of up to US$4,228 (€3,000), news reports said.
Minister of Equal Opportunities Mara Carfagna says she hopes the measure will deal a blow to prostitution rackets.
Italy outlawed brothels 50 years ago but roadside prostitution has been tolerated, with prostitutes, many of them foreigners, commonly seen on the edges of Italy's major cities.
Prostitutes in Italy who have been ordered to stop wearing skimpy clothing while they tout for business in broad daylight plan to dress as nuns instead.
By donning nuns' black and white habits street walkers hope to make the tough new legislation so confusing that it becomes unworkable.
Thousands of women, many of them from Eastern Europe and South America, sell themselves for sex on the side of major roads leading in and out of Italy's main cities, where brothels and red light districts are banned.
But they face a crackdown from the centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi, as well as individual city councils such as Rome, Milan and Florence.
The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, unveiled a decree this week which will ban the capital's thousands of street prostitutes from wearing unseemly and indecent clothing, saying the sight of barely clothed young women distracted male
motorists and caused accidents.
Even the way in which sex workers stand is under scrutiny - the decree bans the women from adopting poses or behaviour or wearing clothing that unequivocally manifest the intention to solicit or practise the activity of prostitution.
Sex worker welfare groups have called the decree absurd and have pledged to challenge it in any way they can.
We'll dress as nuns so that the police will arrest scantily dressed girls outside discos or other women with their cleavage on show, said Pia Covre, of the Committee for the Rights of Prostitutes.
In Florence, for example, the mayor has forbidden girls from walking up and down and we are thinking of going around on bicycles instead. Meanwhile police in Rome have issued more than 100 prostitutes and 40 of their clients with spot
fines of 200 euros (£158) since the new decree was introduced on Tuesday.
The sex workers were mostly from Romania, Colombia and Brazil. Many of the women have refused to pay the fines, which the mayor has said could increase to 500 euros by next month.
The Rome decree came after the Italian government last week agreed to outlaw prostitution in public places, recommending prison terms of up to 15 days and fines of 200 to 13,000 euros for prostitutes and their clients.
The mayor said his order would be valid until January 31, 2009, when the parliament is expected to adopt the government's proposed law.
The proposed law does not ban prostitution altogether because it does not outlaw sex work as a private business.
Mara Carfagna and Silvio Berlusconi have announced a mean minded package of measures to ban prostitution in public places.
In a week when the latest of several women claimed to have been paid for sex by Italy's prime minister, he chaired a cabinet meeting that approved a bill outlawing prostitution.
Mara Carfagna, the former topless model who is Berlusconi's equal opportunities minister, told the website Clandestinoweb a package of security measures that will now go to parliament included a ban on prostitution in all public places.
It emerged last week that three associates of the prime minister were formally under investigation on suspicion of profiting from prostitution. They include his TV network's best-known newscaster, a talent scout who supplies many of its
showgirls, and a former dancer who was Berlusconi's dental hygienist until he plucked her from obscurity to be a regional MP.
The mayor of a small Italian town has suggested the legalisation of prostitution in an attempt to address economic crisis.
Altopascio Mayor Maurizio Marchetti has proposed the creation of red light districts throughout Italy to combat budgeting shortfalls, ANSA reported.
Today this is a totally illegal industry where you see employment of between 70,000 and 100,000 people, according to estimates. I can already imagine the criticism, but I am asking everyone -- is it moral for a person to
work illegally earning 10,000 euros a month and feeding a criminal underworld, while there are people who are working honestly and cannot get to the end of the month?
Creating a legal red light district similar to Amsterdam's would cut organized crime out of the sex trade and prevent the exploitation of prostitutes, Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris has said:
It's an experimental project, which could take off soon, the mayor said. We need to circumscribe an area in which we know the sex trade takes place. The police presence will drive organized crime out.
Prostitution is not a crime, said the mayor, a former magistrate.
A potential candidate is the eastern neighborhood of Barra, which last year offered to create a so-called love park, in which couples could park their cars undisturbed.
His proposal was welcomed by the women in his administration and in some Neapolitan female leftist circles. I've seen red light districts in Canada, Holland and many other civilized countries, Marinella De Nigris, a lawyer, told Corriere
del Mezzogiorno newspaper. I think it's a fair proposal, as long as the state upholds the rules.