Italian Women Protest Berlusconi Sex Scandal

More than 100,000 Italian women took to the streets yesterday in Rome, Naples, Palermo and other cities, loudly protesting what they saw as the disgrace caused by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s sex scandal.  Chanting “Italy is not a brothel,” and “If not now, when?” the women denounced Berlusconi’s actions as demeaning to Italy and to female dignity generally. 

Berlusconi is being investigated for allegedly paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl.  Prostitution is not illegal in Italy, but paying a minor for sex is.  Officials are also trying to figure out whether Berlusconi helped the young woman get out of jail on a theft charge.  Berlusconi has claimed that the scandal is a left-wing conspiracy to oust him from power, but for many Italians, it’s just the last straw.

“Women are offended. The image of our country that Berlusconi is presenting to the world is just unbearable,” said one woman at a rally in Rome.

In 2009, Berlusconi’s wife of almost 20 years announced that she was divorcing him because of his repeated flirtations with younger women.  She also criticized his tendency to appoint ex-show girls to political posts.  This has also angered other Italian women, who say that Berlusconi’s glorification of a particular type of female beauty only serves to objectify women.

One woman at a Milan rally said that she was “fed up with the way women are portrayed as objects in the Italian media. The way that young girls are glorified by their looks and youth and then what? I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that that is the only way to be … that the only thing that matters is to be pretty and show off their legs. … We are more than that.”

It’s inspiring to see so many Italian men and women standing against a prime minister who has so blatantly treated women as second-class citizens, valuable only if they conform to a certain type of beauty.  One particularly poignant moment was a protest in L’Aquila, a mountain town where Berlusconi has boasted about his reconstruction efforts following an earthquake in 2009, where women claimed that they were still waiting for a shelter for abused women.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


elena m.
elena m7 years ago

berlusconi is just a mad man.
i really couldnt tell you why italian people keep on voting and allowing him to be a prime minister.
thats the real shame...

Reshma Biring
Reshma Biring7 years ago

It's always great to see people-power in action - you go girls!

Marco Galli
Marco Galli7 years ago

It hurts me to see the heart consider Italy a country with no rights, despite the infinite disgust of those time of Berlusconism and the bad and corrupt conduct of the political class, the Italian people is much better than its governors:
Despite the laxism attitude to all Italian and at support the abuse for thousands of years.
The Italians have been shown to rise from the ashes of wars, invasions and dictatorships.
Despite the right policy should always be the absurd and unjust restrictions that come from the Vatican, the normal trend in laic and liberal necessary in a modern European democracy.
Despite decades of continuous and profound subjugation of conscience, with the media (television and newspapers belonging to the premier), the sfruttammento popular consensus, the radical change of customs imposed by the wrong models to the youth of this country.
Today in Italy there is a great desire for moral renewal (although slow to manifest itself), a desire for unity and renewal, unity lost in social conflicts, economic interests and regional: lost in the obtuse localisms, created by these politicians, false, selfish, dishonest and criminal.

John B.
John B7 years ago

This boy should go the way of Mubarek. It is good to see the people finally getting disgusted enough to do something about tyrants and lunatics.

Renata B.
Renata B7 years ago

Alexandra Rodda, you write: "It suggests that there may be other irregularities in the way he manages the affairs of the country". I laugh, you can say that! Just a couple of little things, yes, including Mafia, trying to eliminate free speech (the little left at least) etc etc etc...
I insist on the fact that it's not the fact per se: if he likes to go with prostitutes it's his own business, although from someone in his position one would expect something more than that. The fact is that HE LIED as he always does. His nepotism is well known: a pretty face, a young, nice body and there you have a post in the Government: doesn't this say everything?
I don't live in Italy so I trust what Marco Galli says, however - if it can help - I am Italian and a woman and I find this man revolting, even making the big effort of forgetting his ignorance, corruption and arrogance, he looks so fake, made of rubber, he doesn't seem "real". He looks like those dummies in the windows of the department stores, to show clothes!
If all men were like him it would be enough for me to make a vow of chastity!!
My mother is 80 and she feels the same for him. Only women with a very strong stomach and desperately attracted by money can close their eyes and nose and have a go!

Marco Galli
Marco Galli7 years ago

Julie W....
In Italy this story is known by the end of October 2010.
And many men like me have been protesting since then (and long before that time).
See (The absurd situation of Italian politics)
Berlusconi offended more Italian women, but the majority are women who voted for him and many women still defending him.
Berlusconi's success with women is based on his appearance (surgically altered) and how to look like a Latin-lover and the power of his billions.
Long as (Italian) women will not change their vision and their priorities, the rich bastards and false as Berlusconi will continue to win, to do their dirty business, to use women and to make only their own interests.

Marco Galli
Marco Galli7 years ago

I would like to refute the number of 100,000 women took to the streets against Berlusconi
People, especially women (and many men) were more than 1,000,000 (one million), in 230 Italian cities and in 50 world cities (Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, Brusseles, Tokyo, Madrid, etc. ..)
But Evil BerlusKen not go away, perhaps, for him it takes the Egyptian method!

ruth a.
ruth a7 years ago

out, out!

michael c.
corbin m7 years ago

Maybe the reason Italy is offended, is not because of the Presidents propositions, but because the women accepted-OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL!! i hate this double standard, where the man is vile for propositioning women, but (in this PC world) no one even mentions the fact that the women wholeheartedly took him up on the offer. Slap the hand that steals the cookie, not the hands that baked them. He offered, THEY accepted. Now, for the part of the minor, yeah, crucify him. For the part of being a lousy husband and "taking advantage" of the "dignity" of women-PLEASE. "Italy is not a brothel" say women defending women who acted like women in brothels do. "I am offended" say women about a man who had sex with women who were MORE than eager and looking forward to what he could do for them in EXCHANGE. In exchange for what? That's where the offense should come from. Lady's, stop blaming the man for what OTHER women do wrong. If a man takes advantage of opportunities layed out by a "slut", blame the "slut" for being a "slut". Blame the President for breaking the law, for statutory rape and for using his position unjustly. Don't blame him for taking away the dignity of Italian women, when it is clear, they didn't have dignity to begin with.

Maureen North
Maureen North7 years ago

What a pig!