Ghetto, in European history, street or section of a city once set aside for the compulsory residence of Jews. The word itself is probably derived from the name of the area of Venice to which the Jews of that city were confined in 1516. Ghettos spread throughout Italy during the Counter-Reformation (the late 16th century) and had already been in existence in northern Europe for hundreds of years. The ghetto was surrounded by walls, and it was illegal for a Jew to remain outside its gates after the curfew hour. The French Revolution and reform movements of the 19th century removed legal discrimination against Jews in Western Europe and the ghettos were abolished. However, the practice was revived by fascist governments in World War II. Today the term refers to slum areas of inner cities in which minority groups are compelled to live, not by law, but by the forces of discrimination and poverty.