Postcard From...Naples


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The Independent Online

In Italy even the oldest profession needs a helping hand during hard times. With more and more women turning to the sex industry and levels of violence against prostitutes on the rise, the mayor of Naples has proposed an experimental red light district modelled on that in Amsterdam, so the authorities can gain some measure of control.

Mayor Luigi de Magistris said, during a broadcast on Radio 24's La Zanzara show, that radical measures were needed to deal with the city's increased levels of street prostitution. The street sex trade is not illegal in Italy, despite efforts to outlaw it by lascivious ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.

"You have to open a debate and the issue needs to be addressed in a secular way," said Mr de Magistratis, adding that Amsterdam would be "more or less" a model for the operation.

If prostitutes worked from an identified area, the city could "greatly reduce the presence of organised crime, because that area would be monitored by the police," he added. Police could also keep a watch out for pimps and anyone else exploiting sex-trade workers.

The mayor also said Naples needed more private spots where "young couples who can't afford a house or hotel" could go and enjoy some privacy. He said this would be debated by the city council.

Female customers are also being catered for during the recession, according to the Ansa news agency, which reported that many Italian male prostitutes are providing discounts to regular clients. It documented how one man, Simone, had slashed prices almost in half for all services and would also be providing "frequent user discounts".