Miniskirts ban planned by Italian resort
The mayor of Castellammare di Stabia, south of Naples, has ordered his police to fine women who wear 'very short' miniskirts
Tom Kington in Rome
guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 October 2010 21.31 BST
The mayor of a southern Italian beach town has ordered police officers to fine women who wear short miniskirts or show too much cleavage, as part of a battle to raise what he describes as the level of public decorum.
At a council meeting last night, Luigi Bobbio, who was elected on Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party ticket, won a vote to ban clothing considered "very short" from the town of Castellammare di Stabia, south of Naples. Police will get the power to hand out €300 (£265) fines to offenders.
Explaining what he meant by "very short", Bobbio said officers would target women wearing miniskirts that did not fully cover their underwear. "The display of too much cleavage will also earn a fine," added a spokesman.
Bobbio said he had faith in officers to make snap decisions. "They won't need to carry out checks up close," he told Corriere del Mezzogiorno. "One glance will be enough to judge."
The new rules, which were approved by the town council yesterday, drew outrage from local centre-left politicians, who mounted a sit-in outside the town hall. "The Bobbio administration is male chauvinist," the organisers of the protest said in a statement. "This town does need decorum, but not the decorum that is measured by a tape measure held against women's clothing."
"By equating women's clothing with urban decorum, this measure implies women are no more than benches or hedges," said councillor Angela Cortese.
Cortese said she was equally angered by a local priest, Don Paolo Cecere, who praised the move and claimed it could cut down on sexual harassment.
"This turns the clock back years for women and undermines all our victories," she said. The Italian consumer group Aduc added: "Is Castellammare di Stabia in the province of Naples? No, it's in the province of Teheran."
The vice-president of the provincial commission for equal opportunities, Ilaria Perrelli, said: "This is worse than prison, where at least female guards check the clothing of female inmates."
The miniskirt ban is one of 41 new decorum measures introduced by Bobbio. Swearing in public, kicking footballs in the street, lying on benches, climbing trees and walking a dog with a lead longer than two metres will also be targeted. Bobbio said people would not be allowed to wander off the beach in their swimming costume. "This is not Majorca," he said.