The Italian law no. 75 from 1958, which carries the name of Senator Lina Merlin, has turned 61. This law, as we know, abolished brothels – 560 of them when it was approved -, the embodiment of State regulation of prostitution. It abolished the keeping of records of prostituted women, freeing them from the heavy stigma and providing an opportunity for them to escape from prostitution. Essentially, this law aimed to avoid any woman being forced, coerced or encouraged to get into or to remain in prostitution.
The Merlin Law can be seen as a pioneer for recent abolitionist laws, approved in various countries around the world and it serves as our point of reference to reflect both culturally and politically on prostitution itself.
In the last twenty to thirty years, the trafficking of young women and children from poor countries to Europe for sexual exploitation has greatly changed the face of prostitution in Europe.
The response of European governments to this presence and to the problem has thus generally been to legalise and introduce state regulation of prostitution.
At national and international forums, prostitution and trafficking have generated discussion and raised different complex issues at various levels, due to the large presence of these young women and children from poor countries, who are forced/induced into prostitution in the West.
As one of the countries at the forefront of the problem of sex trafficking and prostitution, due to the huge influx of trafficking victims into its territory, the Italian Government is searching for an adequate and effective response to these problems.