Thousands of Italy’s women rally against Berlusconi

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, February 13, 2011 15:40 EDT
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ROME (AFP) – Thousands of women took to the streets of Italian cities Sunday calling for “dignity” and greater rights after a series of lurid prostitution scandals involving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

“We are defending the dignity of women,” read a placard held up at one of the rallies in Palermo, where thousands of women marched through the city.

Thousands more rallied in Bari, Trieste and Venice — with men also joining.

Solidarity protests by women abroad were also expected, with a small rally of around 100 women held outside the Italian consulate in Tokyo earlier Sunday.

“The importance of this rally is in the common participation of men and women, young and old, intellectuals and workers,” Naples mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino said as she marched through the southern Italian city.

The initiative has been organised by sisters Francesca and Cristina Comencini, both actresses, who argue that Berlusconi’s playboy antics and his sexist comments are part of a much wider problem in Italian society.

“Neither right-wing governments, nor left-wing ones have ever done anything,” Cristina Comencini said ahead of the protests.

She also criticised “discrimination in the job market due to a lack of day-nurseries, family helpers and part-time jobs.”

In Italy, where the birth rate is one of the lowest in Europe at 1.4 children per family, only one woman in two works — compared to 59 percent in the European Union — despite women being, on average, better educated than men.

The Italian leader’s scandals have added to the resentment.

“Berlusconi has long shown a violent contempt for women with his misogynist remarks,” Francesca Comencini said.

The Italian leader is fighting off allegations that he paid for sex with a 17-year-old prostitute nicknamed Ruby the Heartstealer and then used the power of his office to try and cover up the crime.

Berlusconi and Ruby, real name Karima El Mahroug, deny having sex but many people have been offended in the way the Italian leader has defended himself.

“I have never paid a woman,” Berlusconi said in one interview last year.

“I have never seen the satisfaction that there could be in it without the pleasure of conquest,” he said.

And in a speech in November he remarked: “It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay.”

Berlusconi’s supporters have condemned the rallies.

“The women taking to the streets today are not very numerous and are rallying only for political ends,” Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini said.

Fabrizio Cicchitto, a member of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, said participants “belong to the leftist anti-Berlusconi movement.”

More than 50,000 women have signed the movement’s manifesto in just a week.

It denounces “the indecent, repetitive representation of women as a naked object of sexual exchange” in newspapers, advertising and on television.

It also said that macho sentiment in Italy has become “intolerable”.

And although those involved have been asked not to politicise the demonstration, several members of parliament who recently broke away from Berlusconi’s centre-right ruling party had said they would be attending.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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  • ghostof911

    Berlusconi is featured prominently in RAP NEWS 6.


  • Johnny Warbucks

    The world at large has gone mad.

  • ghostof911

    But President Casanova is a genius. He managed to insult 60% of Italy’s population with a single sentence.

    “It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay.”

  • Johnny Warbucks

    The Pope probably told him to say that.

  • ghostof911

    That makes sense. The Pope also told him not to use rubbers because the Holy Father needs more Catholics to send money to the Vatican.


    I’m not sure what the problem is…is it that Berlusconi has boinked a sweet, pure teenage Italian exotic dancer?…or that he paid her for it? I can’t figure which side offends Italian women.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Yes, they’re all supposed to have 13 kids, right? So much for all the criticism of Muslims having too many kids. I wonder if they, too, have collection plates in their mosques.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    I think the problem is that they all feel offended and rejected. They all wanted to be the one that got boinked and paid for it.


    NOTE: To fend off any further public pollution, they may want to get rid of the young ladies in Milano who stand very still under their umbrellas on street corners during evening rush hour.


    That’s gotta be it!

  • ghostof911

    The Muslims don’t have the equivalent of the Catholic Pope who feels he needs to have more money than God, so collection plates are not the Standard Operating Procedure in the mosques.

    OT, but did you catch Glen Greenwald’s article about the BoA campaign to attack progressives? It’s an excellent read that I highly recommend. In it, he quotes from John Cole.

    “You have to understand the mindset- they are playing for keeps. The vast majority of the wealth isn’t enough. They want it all. Anything that gets in their way must be destroyed. . . . And they are well financed, have a strong infrastructure, a sympathetic media, and entire organizations dedicated to running cover for them . . . .”


  • Anonymous

    Better playing the two backed beast with Ruby the Heartstealer than bombing Afghan women and children with pilotless drones.

  • Mr. Neutron

    Italian women are mad about two things:
    1) The newest scandal is about a woman, Ruby, who was only 17 at the time – paying for sex with people under age 18 is illegal in Italy

    2) This woman, Ruby, is from Morocco, not Italy. Come on, the Prime Minister can’t find a sexy Italian prostitute ? What signal does that send to the rest of the world ?


    Nobody ever called Berlusconi ‘Mr. Taste.’Those charming middle aged ladies in il foro are the same ones who first voted him into power. They worshipped him. Now he’s been caught cheating with a teener. They have all been ‘shamed’ Italian style. Who can forgive that?

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Yes, I did read the article. I also caught something on DemocracyNow! about it. BoA is out enforced. I couldn’t believe how they targeted Glenn Greenwald. That says it all. Won’t be long before they start shooting people who threaten to expose them and soon, they’ll collapse the house of cards. That will be the beginning of the end, the signal that darkness is upon us.

  • ghostof911

    I wouldn’t be so pessimistic. The young Turks at Anonymous are our hope for the future. Check out what happened after they hacked 44,000 emails from HBGary Federal, one of the outfits tasked with sabotaging Wikileaks-friendly organizations.

    The situation got so bad for the security company that HBGary, the company which partially owns HBGary Federal, sent its president Penny Leavy into the Anonymous IRC chat rooms to swim with the sharks—and to beg them to leave her company alone.


    The chat log of the conversation between Penny Leavy and the hackers is also available. “Penny” joins in at 4:00. It’s a riot. Here’s one of the good lines.

    1195.[04:49] Also, one more request I personally have is to take your investment in aaron’s company and donate it toBRADLEY MANNINGS DEFENCE FUND


  • Johnny Warbucks

    Muaa haaa…That’s funny! I did hear that they had apologized to Glenn Greenwald. Big effing deal! They all got busted big time. If nothing else, WikiLeaks has shown that there are no well hidden secrets anymore. For the past couple of days, I’ve been seen in the news, warnings from the DHS and the rest of the shills on the threats of cyber attacks and blah blah blah. No doubt, they’re scheming something so they can target this kind of exposure.

  • ghostof911

    The USG is in court in Virginia today trying to seize Twitter records.

    The US government’s legal hunt for Julian Assange will begin in a magistrates court in Virginia today when its Attorney General seeks a disclosure order on Twitter to obtain the names, dates and locations of anyone using its services to communicate with WikiLeaks.


  • Johnny Warbucks

    What exactly are they trying to prove with Twitter? It’s not as if people can leak documents thru that site, is it? Or are they still trying to link him to Manning? I thought that, too, had fallen apart?

  • TheDevilCanDance

    Hahaha, Berlusconi is a racist pile of excrement but not when it comes to pussy

  • ghostof911

    They can’t leak documents per se, but I believe Twitter is the means that initial contacts are made, and how actual file transfers are set up. Mostly though I think mainly it’s about intimidation, because they can’t possibly monitor millions of Twitter messages.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    I finally read the article yesterday. And, yes, they’re only fishing for info, desperately trying to make a connection. It’s a good thing they’re doing this to Twitter and they’re holding on to their guns. If it were Google, they would have not only turned over what they had but also probably made up some more stuff just to be ‘helpful and patriotic.’ Gawd, I hate Goggle!

  • ghostof911

    And we won’t hear about Google because there’s no doubt they already opened the door for the DOJ without making a peep. Ditto for FaceBook. For whatever reason Twitter is the only one holding on to their guns.