Rome Travel Guide

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

"Love Nests"/Exploitation in the Woods: Rome Prostitution



Get a few miles outside Rome's center, on any of a hundred country roads, and you'll see young ladies in very short shorts, trolling for business.  Sometimes there's a couch where the work gets done.  In this case, the love - or sex -  bed, which admittedly seems a bit too close to the traffic for privacy, has been covered with wide strips of blue fabric.

These photos were taken on via di Castel di Guido, between the town of Castel di Guido and via Aurelia, west of Rome.  A few hundred yards down the road, we found the women who might have made use of this spot, soliciting motorists as they came off the eastbound exit ramp. 

We probably see more evidence of prostitutes than most Romans, since we are often hiking near these only-barely-remote spots.  We've chatted with some of these women, but not about their jobs.  They've offered to - and have - protected our scooter while we go exploring.

The issue of prostitution in Italy is a difficult one.

The European Union categorizes prostitution as completely legal in Italy and other European states, including Spain, Portugal and the UK. But it’s street prostitution that’s legal in Italy. Brothels are not. The 1958 Merlin law (named for Lina Merlin, the first woman elected to Italy’s Senate) banned brothels (known as case di tolleranza, "houses of tolerance") and imposed a new offense, “exploitation of prostitution,” aimed at pimps and clients.

In Italy, police use laws based on obscenity, including dressing in revealing and suggestive clothing, to move prostitutes out of an area or neighborhood. Current Italian law punishes obscene acts committed in the vicinity of places frequented by children and young people. According to a Rome prosecutor, these are parks, schools, day-care centers and athletic facilities. The result is women who ply their trade on the roadsides we frequent - far from the city center.

In Italy immigrant sex workers are a particularly vulnerable group. The International Organization for Migration estimated that 80 percent of the 11,000 Nigerian women who entered Sicily in 2016 would end up trafficked into the sex trade. These women — as well as undocumented women in the U.S. sex trade — face deportation if they attempt to report their circumstances.

There's more discussion of the pros and cons of legalization of prostitution in Dianne's article in TheAmerican/inItalia.

Bill and Dianne

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