The Italian Almanac

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street walker at work

Protest March in Padua

Prostitutes from all over Italy will flock to Padua to join their colleagues here in a protest march against a city ordinance which slaps fines on kerb-crawlers. Organizers have promised that the march will be orderly and that participants will not be wearing their 'work' clothes, so as not to offend the public. The prostitutes have stressed that their protest march will not only be in support of their clients' rights, but also to underscore the "social function" sex workers play in society.

The situation in Padua has attracted nationwide and international attention and the number of participants is expected to swell far above the initial 100 expected with the arrival of colleagues from Rome, Milan, Genoa and Venice. Although the prostitutes have promised to tone down their attire, they still intend to make the march a festive event. "There will be lots of balloons and colorful signs in different languages to represent all the different nationalities of streetwalkers working in Italy," according to Kristal, a Brazilian transsexual chosen as spokesperson for the protest.

Some of the signs will bear the pink 'love badge' which prostitutes here have adopted to let their clients know that they will be 'reimbursed' in kind if they are slapped with the 50-euro fine. "We have already won our first victory by being allowed to follow the original route we wanted. The police chief at first didn't want us to end the march in front of city hall, but at a meeting Tuesday morning he gave us a green light," Kristal said.

The march will begin at at the train station and then weave through the city to the seat of municipal government, where a delegation of protestors hopes to be received by Mayor Flavio Zononato or a member of the city council. Padua began enforcing the new ordinance last week and city officials claim the number of streetwalkers in the city has dropped by as much as 80%. Mayor Zononato has justified imposing the fines on the grounds that "it is one of the primary duties of the administration to safeguard citizens who use the city's roads both day and night in red light areas".

Aside from cracking down on streetwalkers, city officials have have vowed to combat prostitution in apartments. They also believe that their campaign against prostitution was an example which should be followed by parliament on a national level.