More than 100,000 Italian women and their supporters turned out across the country to protest against Premier Silvio Berlusconi, saying his dalliances with young women humiliate the sex as a whole and degrade female dignity.Someone has a problem with all that?
Backers of the 74-year-old Berlusconi, who is under investigation for allegedly paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl, dismissed the protests as strictly political.
The teenager, a Moroccan night club dancer, has said Berlusconi lavished cash and jewellery on her. Both deny having had sex with each other.
Prostitution isn’t a crime in Italy, but paying a minor for sex is. Prosecutors are requesting to put him quickly on trial in what has been the most sensational probe against Berlusconi in over a decade of criminal cases against him, mainly for dealings in his billion-dollar empire of TV, film, advertising and other business interests.
The premier, who willingly acknowledges his fondness for pretty young women and is being divorced by his wife for his purported dalliances, claims he is being victimized by left-wing prosecutors who want to topple him from power.
From the tiny island of La Maddalena in Sardinia, to larger cities like Naples, Venice and even foreign venues like Paris, where around 400 people gathered outside Sacre Coeur church to bang pots and pans, women pressed for Berlusconi to resign.
In L’Aquila, the mountain town where Berlusconi has boasted about his reconstruction efforts after the 2009 quake damage, women complained they were still waiting for government-promised funds for a centre for abused women.
In the main protest, Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, a central square which can hold about 100,000 people, was packed with mothers, daughters, grandmothers and many husbands and boyfriends as the music blasted across the space, including Aretha Franklin’s song “Respect.”
Caricatures of some of the women promoted by Berlusconi, including former showgirls who are now ministers in his government or other officials from his conservative People of Freedom Party, decorated the walls surrounding the square. Berlusconi’s penchant for choosing starlets for political posts has even been denounced by his estranged wife, Veronica Lario, a former actress herself.
“It’s the fault of TV if women are seen if this way,” said one of the Rome protesters, Eleonora Ermini, a woman in her 60s. “The majority of the people see things (on TV) that the powers want them to see.”
The main jewel in Berlusconi’s Fininvest businesses are Italy’s three largest private TV networks. As premier, he also wields indirect political influence over those networks’ chief competitor, state TV.
Main of the programs on his Mediaset networks are variety shows built around skits featuring scantily clad young women gyrating in sexy moves, showing off plunging necklines, bouncing barely covered behinds and beaming smiles with fleshy lips.
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