from ‘On Prostitution: Two Broadsheets and a Statement’ - Movimento Femminista Romano, 1973
The following is the text of the leaflet that Turin’s Feminist Alternative Group has tried to distribute outside the daily La Stampa (newspaper) where, in recent days, the newspaper has been trying to collect 50,000 signatures for the proposal by popular initiative to reform the Merlin law, alongside the similar proposed bill put forward by 29 Christian Democratic deputies:
'Prostitution exists.It's not a matter of hiding the prostitutes.
It’s a matter of eliminating prostitution.
As women, we are against a society where any man can buy a woman. As women we have never been disturbed by prostitutes. Instead it is their clients who, in public places, accost us ‘intentionally’, ‘continually’ and ‘unequivocally’, offering us their sexual services and preventing us from walking through the streets in peace. Will 50,000 signatures really be enough to ensure that women are no longer bothered when they go out at night? Is it not perhaps the first step towards reopening brothels? Let us not forget that in Turin prostitution brings in 150 billion lire a year. Will you sign? Then you agree that prostitution should continue to exist but behind closed doors. Your signature would be better used supporting a campaign for courses of sex education in all schools, for the establishment of family planning clinics in all quarters of the city, for making abortion available and free to all women.
The Roman Feminist Movement shares the Feminist Alternative group’s initiative and invites women to meet at 9 p.m. on Wednesday 3rd January 1973 at the movement’s base in Via Pompeo Magno no. 94 (Prati), tel. 386503, in order to discuss the possibility of opposing the proposals for the reform of the Merlin law.
(Only women are invited to attend)’
Let’s save morality. Let’s preserve children from scandal. Let’s protect public health and women’s dignity. Under these banners Christian Democratic deputies, supported by a campaign led by the Turin newspaper La Stampa to collect 50,000 signatures for an analogous bill by popular initiative, have presented a bill to the chamber. This bill, with the pretext of attacking prostitution, actually leads to the limitation of personal freedom and freedom of movement for all us women. In fact every woman who finds herself on the street, especially at night, will be subjected to a personal evaluation by those (that is, the police) in charge of enforcing its norms. They will be able to decide at their own discretion whether or not they are dealing with a prostitute. And this suspicion, with a police warrant, could lead to an arrest of up to ninety-six hours with no means of defence.
As regards prostitution itself, it is significant yet again an attempt is made to lay all the weight and moral blame on the woman rather than on the clients who allow themselves to pay a human being to graify their own sexual pleasures.
Prostitution is a product of the patriarchal society, which invented the double standard, and in particular of the patriarchal-capitalist society that excludes women from the work market, pushes them into consumerism and forces them to various forms of prostitution in order to survive.
Prostitution is a male problem. If the ‘sad spectacle of accosting’, the invitation to ‘sexual intercourse, and to illicit trading of the body’ exists, then it is offered by men who attempt to accost, invite and offend any woman who happens to be passing by in the street. And for the umpteenth time we women are forced to hide in the ghettos of our houses.
Do they wish to apply repressive laws? In that case let them start by stopping men who molest and hassle women. They want sanitary control on venereal diseases? Every car that slows down near a woman is a threat. Enough false moralism!