Police in Rome have issued their first 200-euro spot fines to prostitutes and their clients after the capital's right-wing mayor issued a decree banning street prostitution. A heatedly-debated law may ban the practice nationwide.
Police in Rome have issued their first spot fines to prostitutes and their clients after the capital's right-wing mayor issued a decree banning street prostitution, Italian media reported Wednesday.
Three men and 17 prostitutes were each slapped with 200-euro fines (285 dollars) by municipal police after Mayor Gianni Alemanno's order came into force on Tuesday.
The prostitutes, most of them from Romania, told police they had no intention of paying the fines, according to the newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The first client to be fined, a 23-year-old Italian mechanic, argued that he was unaware about the decree and would "never vote again for Gianni Alemanno," who was elected earlier this year.
A police union immediately criticised the decree, saying it would be difficult to force prostitutes, who often have no fixed address, to pay up.
Alemanno's 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.
Pimps responsible for under-aged prostitutes would face six to 12 years in prison and fines of between 15,000 and 150,000 euros.
Clients of under-aged sex workers can be sent to prison for between six months and four years with possible fines of up to 6,000 euros.
Sex workers under the age of 18 without Italian citizenship would meanwhile be sent back to their countries of origin.
An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people, a third of them foreigners, are engaged in prostitution in Italy. Sixty-five percent are sex workers on public thoroughfares, and 20 percent are thought to be minors.
Date created : 2008-09-18