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Call to 'legalise prostitution' to counter crisis

'Up to 100,000 working illegally' says mayor

16 August, 13:57
Call to 'legalise prostitution' to counter crisis (ANSA) - Altopascio, August 16 - The mayor of the small Tuscan town of Altopascio has found a unique solution to counter the Italy's economic crisis - the legalisation of prostitution.

Maurizio Marchetti, from Premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party, said while debate continues over the government's proposed cutbacks, it is time to say "enough hypocrisy" and legalise prostitution. In a statement Marchetti has proposed "the creation of red light districts with greater restrictions, with health and financial controls and public management of the proceeds".

"Today this is a totally illegal industry where you see employment of between 70,000 and 100,000 people, according to estimates," he said.

"I can already imagine the criticism, but I am asking everyone - is it moral for a person to work illegally earning 10,000 euros a month and feeding a criminal underworld, while there are people who are working honestly and cannot get to the end of the month?" he said.

"In every case, if you believe it cannot be legalised, then we should make prostitution a crime. I do not see any other way". Prostitution is not illegal in Italy but profiting from the sex trade is against the law.

On Friday the government announced a new round of austerity measures totalling around 45 billion euros in a bid to balance the budget by 2013.

Measures include the abolition of 29 of Italy's 110 provincial governments and the merger of thousands of councils in towns that have fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, as well as a new wealth tax on incomes higher than 90,000 euros. Berlusconi explained that due to instability created by recent market speculation on Italian bonds, it was imperative to move forward Italy's goal of balancing the budget from 2014 to 2013.

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