Thousands of Italian women march after Berlusconi prostitution scandals
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Thousands of women took to the streets of Italy Sunday calling for "dignity" and greater rights after a series of prostitution scandals involving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Rallies took place in about 200 cities, from Naples to Venice. Men also joined the marches.
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 organisers - sisters Francesca and Cristina Comencini - argue that Berlusconi's behaviour, including involvement with an underage prostitute, 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."
Only one Italian woman in two works, compared to 59 per cent in the whome of the European Union.
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, which says that macho attitudes in Italy have become "intolerable", in just one week.
It denounces "the indecent, repetitive representation of women as a naked object of sexual exchange" in newspapers, advertising and on television.
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