Women stage anti-Berlusconi rallies

Italian premier, facing potential charges of paying a minor for sex, becomes target of massive protests nationwide.

    Women protesters in Rome on Sunday said Berlusconi's sex scandals have hurt their dignity [Reuters]

    Thousands of Italian women have turned out across the country to protest against Silvio Berlusconi, saying the prime minister's dalliances with young women humiliate the sex as a whole.

    Protests were organised in more than 200 towns and cities throughout Italy on Sunday, gathering hundreds of thousands of people in coordinated protests.

    Rallies were held even in some cities abroad, reflect growing anger among women over the prostitution scandal that has engulfed Berlusconi, who has long counted conservative women among his core voters.

    The 74-year-old premier is being investigated for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old nightclub dancer who says he lavished cash and jewelry on her. Both deny they had sex with each other.

    Italian magistrates issued documents in January, which included details of Berlusconi's erotic parties with several girls, including a second underage girl.

    Al Jazeera's Time Friend, reporting from Rome, said that by some counts, up to one million people protested against Berlusconi and his policies on Sunday.

    He said the protests highlighted more than just Berlusconi's behaviour - "it's about what many feel is the undervalued role of women in Italian society".

    "They do not have a large employment rate here, despite the fact that, on average, they are better educated than Italian men," our correspondent said of Italian women, and added that they also complain about "inadequate childcare facilities".

    As for Berlusconi, he will find out in the coming days whether he will face charges of paying for sex with a minor and then abusing his political power to carry out a cover-up.

    Supporters of the premier have dismissed the demonstrations as strictly political.

    Berlusconi, who willingly acknowledges his fondness for pretty young women, claims he is being victimised by leftist prosecutors who want to topple him from power.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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