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Getting in the Habit

Milan Fashion Week is over, but in Rome a controversy over hemlines is still smoldering.  It seems that the city of imperial decadence and "la dolce vita" is suddenly feeling a bit overexposed. 

According to a new decree from the mayor, it is forbidden, among other things, "...to wear clothing that unequivocally manifests the intention to solicit or engage in the activity of prostitution."  As at least one police official has noted, the law is unclear as to just how short a skirt might have to be in order to constitute a violation, leading to potential misunderstandings.  Just last August, for example, two foreign students visiting a church were stopped on suspicion of engaging in prostitution.  (Perhaps I should think about hiding my own photo album from studying in Rome years ago, for that matter -- though as I recall the rules about having our knees and shoulders covered when visiting churches were strictly enforced.)

Meanwhile, with 200-euro fines at stake, an advocate for sex workers has suggested that prostitutes walk the streets in black-and-white nuns' habits instead, leaving the police to arrest scantily clad girls in front of nightclubs or to fine women showing too much cleavage.  Of course, that might also make life a bit more interesting for all of the real nuns strolling around the eternal city.