Rome mayor backs red light zone in EUR

Controversial plan will see prostitution tolerated in non-residential area of EUR

Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino and his administration have approved plans for a red light zone in a non-residential area of the capital's southern EUR district.

The so-called "zoning" pilot project will tolerate prostitution in a still-unidentified red light area in EUR, beginning in April, in a bid to counter exploitation by pimps and traffickers and promote safer sex.

Police will clamp down on the illegal trade on the other 20 or so red-light streets in the neighbourhood, imposing €500 fines on prostitutes caught working outside the permitted area, which will be supervised by health and social authorities.

The plan, which will cost the city €5,000 a month, will see authorities effectively turn a blind eye to the criminal aspect of the business in the tolerated area, while operating a "zero tolerance" policy against prostitution in the rest of EUR.

Marino says he wishes to "strike a balance" by tolerating prostitution in certain areas while keeping it away from "public parks where families go."

Police chiefs are reportedly sceptical about the success of the project which has met fierce opposition from the Catholic Church, from the centre-right opposition on Rome's city council, and even from members of Marino's own Partito Democratico (PD).