Luigi Bobbio, Mayor of Italian seaside city Castellammare di Stabia, has ordered for local ladies to cover up their lumps and bumps in a new ban on mini-skirts and low-cut jeans. Resident femmes who flaunt their assets in any outfit that defies Bobbio’s orders of “nothing too revealing” could now face fines of up to £450. Bare-chested beaus, meanwhile, could face hefty fines for parading around topless between 10pm and 6am, and also for playing football or using expletives within these hours.
The proposal marks the first step in Bobbio’s new policy to target anti-social behaviour emanating from “rowdy, unruly or simply badly behaved” troublemakers in the city.
Absurd as it may seem, Castellammare di Stabia is but one of many Italian cities to make use of the extra powers offered by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to regional mayors in order to combat crime and anti-social behaviour. These extra powers have been instrumental, in other regions, in the banning of sandcastles, kissing in cars, feeding of stray cats, wearing of wooden clogs and weekend usage of lawn mowers.
This is, undeniably, a barmy, farcical state of affairs. Yet the movement has provoked sincere criticism from some corners of the media; Michael White of the Guardian has attributed the events to “Taliban-esque habits of mind and action that western society has shed only recently and with difficulty”. Likewise, local councillor Angela Cortese complains “by equating women’s clothing with urban decorum, this measure implies that women are no more than benches or hedges”.
It is yet to be seen how this turnaround in dress code will affect the local population, both male and female, but the prospect is certainly raising concerns already over the perceived suppression of women’s rights that the movement will entail.