Against ‘Spilabotte’ law proposal and regulation of prostitution

[go to the list of supporters / in basso in questa pagina puoi vedere chi ha firmato la petizione]

[qui, versione italiana della critica alla proposta di legge]

Could you please help us to spread a message to as many people/NGOs as possible?
We need international support against two horribly inhuman italian law proposals: the opening of a Red Light District in the City of Rome and the recent “Spilabotte” law proposal. We have written an analysis of the latest law proposal.
The Mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino supporting a recent local ordinance known as “progetto Michela” developed by Andrea Santoro (PD, Democratic Party) of opening a Red Light District in the City of Rome is treating prostituted women like rubbish, helping pimps, traffickers and mafia to exploit women and girls far from the eyes of the respectable citizens.

We say NO to this unbearable violation of human rights.
NO to the hypocrisy of our politicians who are protecting their rights to buy women’s bodies.
We stand up for the rights of all the sexually exploited women and girls to be helped to exit prostitution (job, education, health care and the possibility of living in our country if they are immigrant women) instead of being trapped in a ghetto as second class women who can be beaten, raped and killed without any consequences for pimps and johns.
Prostitution is not something to be tolerant with, it is not a question of decency (“decoro” in Italian, a key word of the law proposal) it is a patriarchal system of exploitation, it is violence against women.
Please help us to fight against “progetto Michela”. We will meet the mayor of Rome soon. We need as much signatures as possible.

To sign it, please send an email with your name (and organization) to:

Please if you like add your comments against the opening of a Red Light District in Rome and the “Spilabotte” law proposal.
Thank you for all your support.
In sisterhood,
Resistenza Femminista, Italy


At a time in which European Parliament has approved the historic and fundamental Honeyball Resolution, which defines prostitution as a form of violence against women, claiming the engagement of the entire society in the fight against it, Italy by an upsetting anachronism is dangerously going back to the ’50s.

Law proposal n. 1201 “Regulation of prostitution”, submitted, among others, by senator Maria Spilabotte (PD, Democratic Party) and signed by Alessandra Mussolini, who is very eager in promoting the proposal, represents a dangerous attack to the rights of women in prostitution, of trafficking victims and of all women. It is focused – just like other proposals coming from the Northern League – around a double standard masking a moralistic mentality, and in fact states that it aims to “encourage women to abandon the streets or to work in safer places, and at the same time further away from other citizens’sight”.

The proposal bases its claims on the false premise that, regarding prostitution, trafficking and sexual slavery, “statistics tell us that prostitution on the streets is the preferred ground for their expansion”, a premise and a claim that have in fact been dismissed and demonstrated false by experts, trafficking victims and prostitution survivors. On the contrary, what is well known is that trafficking and sexual exploitation thrive indoors, in places where women are more in danger because more subject to the pimps’ control and with less possibilities to exit prostitution.

There are many contradictions in this proposal, beginning with the fact that, on one side, it quotes article 3 from the Constitution, reminding us that “prostitution in and of itself, as an activity that turns bodies and sexuality into commodities, and that is influenced by economic, social, cultural and psychological disparities, constitutes an obstacle to a fully balanced development of the individual”, while on the other side it refers to prostitution as a “profession”, defined as “putting one’s body at the disposal of others for the completion of sexual acts in exchange for money”.

Furthermore, the proposal first reminds us that prostitution today is represented largely by “trafficking and exploitation, by women who are mainly migrants coming from outside the European Community looking for a job and finding themselves, instead, in slavery”, but nevertheless finds it completely unproblematic to present a law that, far from dealing with the transnational organized crime, proposes the decriminalization of the people who locate the apartments and houses in which prostitution occurs, without any consideration as to what this means in terms of a potential, very likely facilitation, thanks to virtual impunity, for the thriving of organized crime.

Here are some highly concerning parts of the proposal:

1) Art. 3, “Forbidding of prostitution in public space”, is about establishing specific areas where prostitution will be allowed. These areas, as we can read in the presentation that introduces the proposal, “will be far from the sight of people who don’t want to witness the selling and buying of sex, and at the same time safe for the persons involved in it”. At the core of the proposal thus appears to be, as main preoccupation, the hypocrisy of protecting urban appearances. As if this weren’t enough, the proposal establishes fines for those who were caught prostituting themselves in places different from the ones established by the local city governments – fines between 1.000 and 6.000 euros. At all effects, this would be a state repressive measure that would hit prostituted people and would turn mayors into some sort of sheriffs.

It’s a shame to think that a society which is supposed to be democratic and civilized, instead of helping people who are largely forced into slavery by dangerous transnational criminal organizations or are somehow in difficult situations, it’s busy to fine them because they have dared to appear close to churches or schools attended by the “decent people”.

2) In the Art. 5 focused on “Conditions for the authorized practice of prostitution” the pimp-State assesses very high rates for the person who wants to subscribe to the Chamber of Commerce in order to practice the “profession”. The content of the introductory report is horrendous: “the semestal cost for the authorization is 6000 euros for a full-time activity and 3000 euros for a part-time one. It has to be considered a reasonable cost considering that it would be paid 20 euros per day on 150 working days which is utterly under the average price of a service which is assessed at almost 30 euros”. The State is prying into the prostituted person’s financial affairs and it assesses a tax to give as a gift to the pimp-State. It’s a huge step back that reminds us of Italy before the approvation of the Merlin law (1958) when instead in the introductionary report it is said that the intention of the law proposal it is not to come back to that period. This is absolutely false as it is demostrated also by the komma 4 of the same section when it is claimed that the women who are found without the very expensive certificate to practice prostitution will have to pay a fine from 500 to 1000 euros…

In addition, it is not clear who should guarantee the effective competence of the Local Health Services to issue a “certificate of psycological suitability” for the practice of prostitution assessing “ones own free will to practice the profession, excluding certain psycological conditions such as vulnerability, any sort of restraints, weaknesses”. The proposal ignores the huge work done in the anti-violence centres in terms of research materials and practices that has shown how complex living the experience of gender violence is. Hypocritically and paradoxically, it gives the Local Health Services the unlikely competences to decide when prostitution is to be considered “voluntary” or “forced”. It is the bureaucratization of complex lives in order to fill the state treasury! Finally, reviving the sad “records” of prostitutes that were kept before the Merlin Law, names of the authorized people will be communicated from the Chamber of Commerce to the Home Office, “in order to be verified by competent authorities”.

3) The Art. 4 is called “Prostitution acts should not be punished” and it decriminalizes people who “uses a private house of which he or she has legitimate disposability, even if he or she hosts people in prostitution, as long as there is no house mate who is an intermediate earning from someone else’s activity” and also “the owner who legitimately rents a house out to somebody who acts there as a prostitute, as long as it is not done in presence of minors”. It must be said that the latter definition fits perfectly to a hotel owner who formally only rents rooms to women in prostitution. However, his or her earnings would originate exactly in legalized prostitution exploitation, because of the very expensive room rates, as it is daily routine in Switzerland and Germany, where women pay usury prices!

The law is intended to eliminate the crime of aiding and abetting which may prejudice women in prostitution, while the simple abolition of this crime is exactly what occurred in Germany in 2002, that was – as German media reported – what caused an explosion of a huge sexual industry managed largely by the organized crime and funded on sex trafficking, which also resulted in reduced earnings for women and an increase of their exploitation through the “fixed price” discount in sexual services. Why don’t take into account, before fostering any measure believed to be innovative and “progressive”, what has already occurred in the other countries which have already adopted the same measures? Examples of this are clearly before everyone’s eyes: an escalation in the development of the sex industry where this has been normalized is the natural consequence of the banal law of profit. It gives a lot to think about the ladies and gentlemen who have drawn up this Draft Law and didn’t take the trouble to carefully examine the consequences that this decriminalization stated in the Art. 4 may imply on the different forms of human trafficking which can be found in our country. The Nigerian organized crime, for example, could well be able to give its activities a semblance of legality by acting through an association managed by Nigerian madams who often are long time Italian citizens that would comply with all requirements stated in the Art. 5 of the present Draft Law.

4) By introducing the argument over sexual education in the first grade secondary schools in the Art. 7, regarding the compulsory use of condom in prostitution, the young generation are being educated to the normality of prostitution in a disturbing way and encouraged to become the “johns” of the future, instead of giving them an education aimed to discourage and prevent the demand for prostitution, as we would like, by informing young people about sex trafficking, organized crime, the prevailing circumstances who force women in prostitution and by promoting an education based on mutual desire, authentic sexual liberation and respect for each other as human beings.

Because of these and many other reasons, we ask that this Law proposal be withdrawn. It is an arduous attack against the rights of all women and a huge step backwards for our country. We ask that any law containing repressive measures against people in prostitution, dangerous forms of depenalization of the “managers”-exploiters and the true spongers of the sex industry, and forms of banalization of a situation in which psychophysical dangers are routine and not exceptional be withdrawn. We ask that reducing prostitution demand, fighting against exploitation and trafficking, and creating real alternatives especially for migrant women be considered absolute priorities.


I. NGOs, Groups, Associations, Collectives Members and Scholars
(in chronological order – groups in Italy first)

  1. Esohe Aghatise (Coalition Against Trafficking on Women; directress at Iroko)
  2. Associazione Rising – Pari in Genere 
  3. Marina Terragni (membro direttivo naz. PD)
  4. Nadia Somma (presid. Centro Antiviolenza Demetra)
  5. Gabriella Paolucci (Donne di Artemide)
  6. Chiara Scipioni (Associazione Rising – Pari in Genere)
  7. Ilaria Boiano (Associazione Differenza Donna)
  8. Stefania Cantatore, UDI Napoli
  9. Elvira Reale, Psicologa, direttrice UOC di psicologia clinica ASL Napoli 1 Centro, Associazione Salute Donna
  10. Inge Kleine (Terre des Femmes e.V.; Abolish Prostitution Now; Stop Sexkauf)
  11. Rachel Moran (SPACE International)
  12. Sabrina Qureshi (founder and coordinator of Million Women Rise)
  13. Yvonne Smidt (Terre des Femmes e.V.)
  14. Agnete Strøm (Kvinnefronten – The Women’s front of Norway)
  15. Solveig Senft (Terre des Femmes e.V.)
  16. Chris McDowell (Remember Our Sisters Everywhere)
  17. Laëtitia Gaspar (Osez le féminisme!)
  18. Simone Watson (prostitution survivor and direct. NorMAC – Nordic Model in Australia Coalition)
  19. Guðrún Jónsdóttir (spokeswoman for Stigamot – Social Movement Against Sexual Violence)
  20. Brigitte Hofmann-Muzik (Stop Sexkauf)
  21. Kathleen Barry (Ph.D., Professor Emerita, USA – Author “Female Sexual Slavery”, “The Prostitution of Sexuality”)
  22. Janice G. Raymond (Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts Amherst MA USA)
  23. Lavinia Ruscigni (AMSED – Association Migration Solidarité et Échanges pour le Développement; Mouvement du Nid)
  24. S.L. Bondarchuk (ESPA – Edmonton Small Press Association)
  25. Claudia Mayr (Stop Sexkauf)
  26. Margot Müller (national spokeswoman of Feministische Partei DIE FRAUEN)
  27. Autumn Burris (foundress, directress at Survivors for Solutions)
  28. David Wayne Zimmerman (Hope Hollow Exploitation Victim Assistance and Consultation Services, Survivor Advocate)
  29. Katharina Sass (Kvinnefronten Women’s front; German Left Party Die LINKE; Derpartment of Sociology, University of Bergen)
  30. Shahidah Janjua (Kerry Women’s Interactive Network)
  31. Dipl.Soz. Renate Uzun-Raming (FrauenTherapieZentrum München)
  32. Anna Zobnina (chair of European Network of Migrant Women)
  33. Gertrud Åström (chair of Swedish Women’s Lobby)
  34. Dalia Puidokienė (directress at PO Klaipėda Social and Psychological Services Center)
  35. Teodora Krumova (Center Amalipe)
  36. Anita Kienesberger (Stop Sexkauf)
  37. Anik Raskin (Conseil National des Femmes du Luxembourg)
  38. Borbala Juhasz (Hungarian Women’s Lobby)
  39. Michèle Vianès (chair of Regards de femmes)
  40. Pierrette Pape (Policy and Campaigns Director, European Women’s Lobby)
  41. Kristina Misiniene (Aid to Victims of Trafficking and Prostitution Caritas – Lithuania)
  42. Lisa-Marie Taylor (Resist Porn Culture; Feminism in London)
  43. Gabriella Apicella (Eaves for Women)
  44. Johanna Anttila (Nätverket Mot Trafficking – Swedish Network Against Trafficking)
  45. Nusha Yonkova (Anti-trafficking Manager; Immigrant Council of Ireland)
  46. Gunilla S. Ekberg (feminist lawyer, Sweden and Canada; IF&HR – The Institute for Feminism & Human Rights)
  47. Iliana Balabanova-Stoicheva (Bulgarian Women’s Lobby)
  48. Zoe Gray (domestic violence advocate, The nia Project)
  49. Karen Ingala Smith (The nia Project)
  50. Rahni K. Binjie (head of operations, The nia Project)
  51. Iluta Lāce (MARTA Resource Centre for Women)
  52. Karin Svensson (chair of Roks – National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Shelters in Sweden)
  53. Cathrine Linn Kristiansen (Kvinnefronten – The Women’s front of Norway)
  54. Viktoria Saxby (Centerkvinnorna – The Swedish Center Party’s Women’s Association)
  55. Jan Macleod (Women’s Support Project)
  56. Ingrid Halvorsen (Kvinnefronten – The Women’s front of Norway)
  57. Eli Melby (Kvinnefronten – The Women’s front of Norway)
  58. Frederica Newell (Ruhama)
  59. Mary Dempsey (Ruhama)
  60. Sandra Ruiz Moriana (Ruhama)
  61. Emelie Edeborg (Freethem Sweden)
  62. Johanna Dahlin (The Swedish Women’s Lobby)
  63. Anita Heiliger (KOfra – Kommunikationszentrum für Frauen zur Arbeits e.V. Münich; Stop Sexkauf)
  64. Philippe Scelles (Fondazione Scelles)
  65. Emma Johnston (committee member at Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform)
  66. Sarah Benson (Ruhama)
  67. Frankie Green
 (WomensLiberation MusicArchive)
  68. Annette Lawson (chair of NAWO – National Alliance of Women’s Organisations UK)
  69. Malin Roux (co-founder and executive director of RealStars)
  70. Taina Bien-Aimé (executive director of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women)
  71. Alisa Bernard Nordrum (OPS – The Organization for Prostitution Survivors)
  72. Idit Harel Shemesh (manager of Todaa NGO Awarness Centre)
  73. Julia Long (Lecturer in Sociology, Anglia Ruskin University; author of Antiporn: The Resurgence of Anti-Pornography Feminism)
  74. Elizabeth Pickett, LL.M (Founder of Feministas of Canada)
  75. Anais Lehmann (SPACE International)
  76. Meghan Tyler (Lecturer in Sociology, University of Victoria; author of Selling Sex Short: Pornography and Sexological Construction of Women in the West)
  77. Grace Balbutin (Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution)
  78. Cherry Smiley (Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry)
  79. Dr Finn Mackay (Lecturer in Sociology, University of the West England, Founder of London Feminist Network and revived Reclaiming the Night, author of Radical feminism. Feminist activism in movement)
  80. Julie Bindel, Journalist, co-founder of Justice for Women
  81. Lilian Halls-French, Co-Présidente Initiative Féministe Euromed IFE-EFI

II. Individual supporters

(in alphabetical order)

  1. Angela Marta Abadía
  2. Maria Elena Abbate
  3. Emanuel Abínzano
  4. Dee Nic Abilene
  5. Jill Baird
  6. Carla Basciano
  7. Ida Becchi
  8. Antonella Berte’
  9. Nicole Bianchi
  10. Luisa Bordiga
  11. Simona Cappiello
  12. Kay Ciesielczyk
  13. Jeanette Crast
  14. Valeria Damiani
  15. Maria Daniele
  16. Marina De Carneri
  17. Karl Edqvist
  18. Aron Embleton
  19. Giorgia Fioravanti
  20. Maria Paola Fiorito
  21. Angela Firpo
  22. Anna Fisher
  23. Barbara Giorgi
  24. Johanne Heppell
  25. Hans Homann
  26. Felicia Hyde
  27. Sally Jackson
  28. Paula Kavanagh
  29. Tjasa Korelc
  30. Giulia Laboranti
  31. Hannah Jemma K Leavitt
  32. Brigitte Lechner
  33. Natasha Leigh
  34. Cheryl Lynn
  35. Clare Martin
  36. Rita Mascis
  37. Francesco Massetti
  38. Meike Matarazzo
  39. Kieran MGrath
  40. Loretta M. Moore
  41. Rebecca Nagel
  42. Giulia Nanni
  43. Mattia Nappi
  44. Annarita Natale
  45. Licia Palmentieri
  46. Paola Perata
  47. Tiziana Pezzuolo
  48. Veronica Pietrini
  49. Donatella Proietti Cerquoni
  50. Maricel Puntano
  51. Anne Rasmussen
  52. Julia Rebel
  53. Sylvia Regelin
  54. Roswitha Reger
  55. Elisabetta Rossi
  56. Pamela Rubin
  57. Silvia Santarelli
  58. Dr. Marsha Scott
  59. Fawn Sewell
  60. Simona Sforza (blogger)
  61. Francine Sporenda
  62. Mari Ángeles Suárez
  63. Carolina Tafuri
  64. Giulia Terrosi
  65. Julia Tiberg
  66. Lisa Ward
  67. Eylem Yagbasan
  68. Karin Wisseroth-Yahaya
  69. Verity Rous
  70. Giulia Cavicchia
  71. Elisabeth Enström

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