Mara Carfagna, the equal opportunities minister, said a package of measures will include banning prostitution in public places
Silvio Berlusconi’s government «has reached a further milestone», declared his party’s equal opportunities spokeswoman, Barbara Saltamartini. And who could doubt her? In a week when the latest of several women claimed to have been paid for sex by Italy’s prime minister, he chaired a cabinet meeting yesterday that approved a bill outlawing prostitution. Mara Carfagna, the former topless model who is Berlusconi’s equal opportunities minister, told the website Clandestinoweb a package of security measures that will now go to parliament included a ban on prostitution in all public places. «The aim is to cut off the oxygen to criminal organisations that profit from the bodies of women who are often very young and, in the overwhelming majority of cases, foreign,» she said. It emerged last week that three associates of the prime minister were formally under investigation on suspicion of profiting from prostitution. They include his TV network’s best-known newscaster, a talent scout who supplies many of its showgirls, and a former dancer who was Berlusconi’s dental hygienist until he plucked her from obscurity to be a regional MP. Among those who have been questioned is an 18-year-old Moroccan woman who said that she had visited his home outside Milan. She has acknowledged receiving €7,000 (£6,000) from Berlusconi, but denies sexual involvement with him. A former prostitute who has also given a statement to prosecutors said, however, that she had twice provided sexual services for Berlusconi at €5,000 a time. Opposition critics noted the measures would apply only to prostitutes working on the streets. «If it weren’t so terribly serious, you’d die laughing,» said Senator Donatella Poretti of the Italian Radicals.