The Italian Almanac

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A Sign of the Times

Prostitution in Italy has undergone a transformation in terms of both those who practise the profession and where and when it is practised. According to a study carried out by the Sexologists Association, prostitutes in Italy today are no longer the old-style, uneducated working class girls who walk the streets. The modern prostitute, the study said, were technology-savvy women who often held degrees, preferred political talk shows over 'reality' programs and were content with their line of employment.

The single largest category of prostitutes today is made up of students (27%), followed by housewives (18%) and women who held regular part-time jobs and, from time to time, receive clients at their own home for a little extra cash to help make ends meet. This latter group includes employees of call centers but also factory employees and white collar staff. In the majority of the cases women engaged in this profession by choice and 43% considered it a temporary situation. The work hours have also changed and today 26% of prostitutes prefer to exercise their profession in the early afternoon, from 1pm to 3pm, while only 16% still opt for the night.

One of the biggest changes among prostitutes is their socio-cultural profile. Today 34% hold degrees or diplomas, 11% speak at least one foreign language correctly, 9% read five or six books a year and 38% read at least one newspaper a day. Over 50% of prostitutes today prefer to watch a political talk show, news analysis program or history documentary over the popular reality shows.

In regards to where the profession is practised, today's prostitutes prefer their own home to the traditional sidewalk, considering it more safe and comfortable, with 21% entertaining clients for no more than three hours and 17% no more than four hours.