Regulations for prostitutes, the Italian way

by Mattia Rosini - 2014.03.05
Regulations for prostitutes, the Italian way
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No brothels or red light districts: prostitution will be permitted in private houses, subject to certain conditions, including the use of condoms. These are just some of the points of the draft law, which was presented today at a press conference in the senate by the politician, Maria Spillabotte, along with other senators. It's a cross-party bill proposed by the Democratic Party but also supported by Alessandra Mussolini.

“This doesn't mean reopening brothels,” says senator Spillabotte. “Rather, it's regulation of prostitution. While on the one hand, it recognises the rights and obligations of sex workers, including paying taxes, on the other hand it increases the penalties for exploitation and trafficking.” The bill includes the issuance of a licence, stating that the holder is free of sexually transmitted diseases and confirming that a payment has been made to the chamber of commerce, of €6,000 for a full-time licence or half that amount for part-time work. This measure is needed to curb tax evasion, seeing as the turnover from prostitution is estimated to be between €5-10 billion - generated by about 9 million customers and approximately 70,000 prostitutes.

The use of condoms will be obligatory – in fact it will be the first law in Italy to stipulate this – although it is unclear how the rule will be enforced. Prostitutes will also be required to get a certificate of mental fitness. “This is a fundamental way of getting women away from coercion,” says Spillabotte. “During an interview, the specialist will be able to tell if the girl is being forced into prostitution or if it is her free choice.”

So far the rules apply to those who voluntarily decide to sell their body. The situation for victims of trafficking, forced to stand on street corners by criminal organisations, is different. Those who exploit prostitutes can expect harsher penalties: an increase from five to 10 years for forcing someone into prostitution and six years (instead of the previous two) for recruitment, induction and exploitation. Money raised by fines and licences will be put in a social fund, to protect victims and help them recover.

Vice-president of the senate Valeria Fedeli called the bill “soft regulation”. She also dismisses the possibility of legalising brothels and parlours (as in Germany and Switzerland) or the creation of red light districts. Likewise the French or Swedish models, which punish the prostitute's client but not the prostitute, are also excluded, even though they were recently praised by the European Parliament, which voted a non-binding resolution calling upon member countries to follow these models. So the question remains: where should sex workers operate? In an apartment, for example? The bill calls for the abolition of the crime of aiding and abetting for those who rent an apartment to a prostitute. The women will then be able to privately rent an apartment to exercise their profession

Published in Human Trafficking.
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