Sex work: why it should be legalized, by Carmine Landolfi

It’s Tuesday and nothing special has happened since the start of the week. What about shaking it with a provocative post about prostitution? It’s known as the “world’s oldest profession”, as there is evidence of its existence since the dawn of time and civilization, right up until today. However, sex work is no longer seen as an honest day’s – and night’s – work. At least not in Italy. Many countries still ban the practice, while others allow it only in specific locations or under certain circumstances. So you may be wondering: why should Italy legalize it?

First, let’s start by clarifying the Italian situation. In Italy, sex work – defined as the exchange of sexual services for money – is legal, but not regulated. This means that organized sex work, whether indoors in brothels or controlled by third parties, is prohibited. Brothels were banned in 1958 with the Merlin Law, and a new criminal offence was introduced – the so-called exploitation of prostitution – with the aim of punishing any person who in any way promotes or exploits the prostitution of others. As a consequence of the law, prostitutes were forced to work in the streets, making them more visible than before. In the early 1990s, with this new visibility also the migration of sex workers from Eastern Europe and Western Africa increased, willing or forced to work in Italy. The result is that today this industry is almost totally controlled by crime organizations who earn tens of billions of euros from it, and it is full of desperate, trafficked and enslaved women from Eastern Europe and third world countries. I think this is a pretty accurate picture of Italy’s current situation. For further information please visit this page.

That said, you should already have found an answer to the above question. If these reasons are not enough to persuade you, here are some further important points. History shows that making something illegal (such as alcohol or drugs for example) doesn’t make it go away. Instead, buyers and sellers simply go into the black market, lining the pockets of those who illegally exploit whatever the business is. By regulating sex work, Italy could achieve several important goals. First of all, mafia power would be drastically reduced – as sex work is one of its main source of revenue – with tremendous social and economic benefits. The government would gain billions of euros in new taxes paid by legal sex workers, money that should be used to revive Italian economy (hopefully!). But the most important thing is that only by regulating sex work can the problem of human trafficking, exploitation and underage prostitution be tackled effectively, helping hundreds of thousands of enslaved women exploited by ruthless people to be finally free. Free to choose their occupation and to work honestly.

This monstrous injustice and hypocrisy must be brought to an end. Any individual should be able to choose sex work as a livelihood with total freedom, and practice it in the safest environment possible. What we’d really need is a legal market for sex.


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