From the March-April 2011 issue of News & Letters:
by Gerry Emmett
Hundreds of thousands of Italian women took to the streets Feb. 13 to protest President Silvio Berlusconi’s sexist and absurd political culture of “bunga bunga.” Demonstrations, mostly of women, calling for his resignation were held in 280 Italian cities.
Berlusconi will have to stand trial beginning April 6 for having sex with an underage partner and abuse of power. He is alleged to have paid a 17-year-old Moroccan girl for sex, and to have intervened when she was charged with theft by telling police she was the niece of Hosni Mubarak. He claimed that her prosecution would cause a diplomatic incident, but was actually worried that his relationship to her would be revealed.
The revelation did come, following a lengthy series of leaks detailing Berlusconi’s parties with strippers and pole dancers, paid in cash and jewelry by the President and his wealthy guests. This reflects the culture media magnate Berlusconi has long promoted in Italy—reducing women to commodities along with all the rest of life. Sexism is a pillar of his reactionary politics.
It is appropriate that Berlusconi, the super-rich friend of dictators like Mubarak and Qaddafi, seems to be falling into disgrace at the same time as they have been falling from power. If convicted, he could face three years on the underage prostitution charge, and up to 12 years for abuse of power.