Politicians from both left and right have backed the idea of opening up a red light district, despite prostitution being illegal in Italy.
Carlo Monguzzi, from the ruling Democratic Party (PD), said setting up a prostitution zone could be “the only solution” to tackling current problems.
“Having a red light district in Milan is a good idea...We must help the women reduced to slavery and forced into prostitution who are beaten to death if they don’t do it,” he wrote on Facebook.
The Forza Italia party also waded into the debate, with party councillor Luigi Pagliuca throwing his support behind the proposal: “I would be delighted if the city council would move away from the logic of taboo and moralism, and openly tackle the problem and the situation of the oldest profession in the world.”
Renewed debate over a possible red light district in Milan was sparked by such plans being unveiled in Rome last week. An area for prostitutes will be opened in the city’s Eur district from April, under the supervision of health and social workers.
A similar idea has previously been discussed in Milan, with Northern League leader Matteo Salvini saying he saw “no problem” in Italy’s financial capital having a red light district. Other politicians have considered legalizing prostitution a way of boosting tax revenues in Italy.
It is, however, only in the wake of the Rome decision that such broad support of a red light district in Milan has been voiced.
“I’m in favour of experimenting with this initiative,” said Mirko Mazzali, leader of the Left Ecology Freedom party (Sel) at city hall, according to Italian media reports.
But Mazzali stopped short of saying precisely where a red light district should be opened up, prompting criticism from fellow politician Riccardo De Corato.
“Mazzali should say which area in Milan he’s talking about, because otherwise it’s only chatter at the coffee bar,” De Corato, from the Brothers of Italy, was quoted as saying.
“The right path is still the one mapped out by the centre-right of the Lombardy region, which has proposed a referendum for the partial abolition of the Merlin law,” he said, referring to 1950s legislation which banned red light districts in Italy.
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