Berlusconi sent to trial for alleged sex with underage prostitute
Summary of story from the Guardian 15.02.11
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces trial on vice charges following a series of allegations against him.
The prosecutors claim that he paid Karima el-Mahroug, also known as Ruby Rubacuori, who was 17 at the time and undocumented, to have sex with him.
In Italy the age of consent is 14, but prostitution below 18 is illegal.
The Roman Catholic church, whose teachings have been backed by Berlusconi’s governments, have been less than forthright in condemning the indictment.
The president of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, said only: ”Transparency is a quality that is worth pursuing at all levels for the good of the country.”
Berlusconi, 74, who is also accused of abuse of power, is to be tried by an all-women panel of judges.
He could face three years in prison on the juvenile prostitution charge and up to 12 years on the charge of abusing his official authority. Because of his age, he is unlikely to be jailed if convicted.
The trial is likely to start in April and will be heard by three female judges, which according to this story in the Guardian (15.2.11), is a complete coincidence. Berlusconi’s followers are reported to be “dismayed”.
News site IPS (14.02.11) reports that protests in Italy over the scandal are drawing attention to bigger national issues.
The million-strong demonstrations on Sunday by women (see WVoN story) point to a continued lack of employment opportunities for women, widespread objectification and negative stereotyping.
Pina Nuzzo, president of the Italian Union of Women said:
“The common thought is that, towards the economic crisis, dismissing a woman is less grave. For young women – those who don’t take the path of sexual shortcuts – it is still hard to get a job, because they are potential mothers (and so less attractive for employers). In this sense insecure employment is equal to sterility.”
According to the National Statistics Institute (ISTAT), only 46 percent of Italian women are employed, compared with an average of 59 percent in the other European countries.