Space, street prostitution and women’s human rights : the effects of spatial segregation in the perpetuation of violence against women in prostitution

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Ferrerons Galeano, Clara
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This thesis analyses the role of Italy in fostering violence against women in street prostitution. Since the National Law 125/2008 on urgent measures on public security was passed in this country, city councils have applied municipal ordinances at the local level that prohibit the practice of outdoor prostitution in the public space, thereby criminalising it. Feminist geographers and urbanists argue that spatial arrangements in the city play a key role in the experience of violence against women in urban spaces. As a socially marginalised group, women in prostitution are extremely vulnerable to violence, which is further emphasised when criminalisation of this practice obliges women to move to peripheric and isolated areas of the city or to start working indoors. Taking Padova as a paradigmatic example of the typology of municipalities that have legislated the most on street prostitution, this thesis critically engages with international women’s human rights standards and argues that two ordinances passed in this city in 2011 and 2014 represent a failure of the State to act with due diligence in preventing, protecting and prosecuting all forms of violence against women as provided in CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention. In addition, this thesis argues that violence against women in prostitution should not be regarded as a side-effect of this activity but rather as a structurally mediated gender-based discrimination that needs to be decidedly recognised as such at the international level if the universality of human rights is to be applied rigorously to all individuals. Keywords: street prostitution, spatial segregation, women’s rights, violence against women, Italy
Second semester University: University of Padua
prostitution, women rights, violence against women, Italy, Padua, gender discrimination