Is this Malta 2007 or Taliban philosophy, lawyer asks

Malta is a democracy in which people ought to be allowed to decide whether or not they want to go to an adult club, a lawyer argued yesterday.

"I want to live in a country where a decision whether to frequent or not this type of club it taken by me... and not imposed by the state... This is why Malta signed so many conventions," Joseph Giglio said.

He was one of the lawyers making legal submission in the case of 33 foreign women charged with involvement in the management of clubs for immoral acts.

Magistrate Antonio Mizzi, presiding over the case, first heard legal submissions by the prosecution, conducted by Police Superintendent Peter Paul Zammit.

Mr Zammit said the prosecution had to prove that the women were involved in the management of the clubs and that immoral activities were carried out there.

He argued that it had been proven that the women were paid a pre-established share by the owners and this meant they were involved in the management.

The next thing to prove was that there had been immoral acts. This, he said, revolved around the act of lap dancing - an act that had to be put under the microscope for the purposes of this case.

Although the law did not target private morality, it was concerned with what took place in public places. In the bars, and through the lap dances available, there was an "undue emphasis on sex" in a dance that allowed contact between dancer and client, the prosecuting officer argued.

The magistrate then heard the women's defence lawyers make their case.

Lawyers Robert Abela, Ian Farrugia, Joseph Arrigo and Shazoo Ghaznavi made brief submissions and then gave the floor to Dr Giglio who started his address thus:

"I'm wondering whether we're living in Malta in 2007 or dealing with issues more in line with the philosophy of the (puritanical Islamist movement) Taliban".

The attitude of the police in this case was similar to that adopted by the Taliban as they wanted to impose how mature people ought to behave.

The case had started because the police had been instructed to raid the clubs and arrest any women wearing G-strings.

Speaking about the issue of morality, Dr Giglio said we lived in a society that was in constant evolution, adding that morality was a code of conduct that was accepted by that society. He questioned how it was possible, or logical, that - in a society were we are surrounded with sexual innuendos - the police had arraigned the women.

He also questioned by what logic was it acceptable for a child to see a woman in a G-string on the beach but this was not permitted in a club where the entry age was 21.

Dr Giglio disagreed with the prosecution's thesis that the women were involved in the management of the bars because they were given a share. He noted that, if this were the case, all paid employees would be managers of the companies they worked with. This, he said, was absurd.


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