ITALY: Lost Distinction

In a hundred side streets one night last week, solitary Italian males popped discreetly into familiar shuttered houses for one final fling. Outside, plainclothes cops prowled, ready to squelch any farewell parties that showed signs of getting out of hand. Surrendering its distinction as the last West European nation to boast legalized brothels, Italy finally closed down its "houses of tolerance."

The closing was the sole triumph of Socialist Deputy Angelina Merlin, whose incessant appeals to conscience had finally driven Italy's reluctant male legislators into outlawing an industry that paid the Italian...

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