Berlusconi’s approval rating among women has dropped from 48 percent a year ago to 27 percent—an all-time low. True to form, Berlusconi has his own statistics. “Did you hear about the latest poll?” he recently joked. “They asked women between 20 and 30 years old if they want to make love to Berlusconi. Thirty-three percent said yes, and 67 percent said, ‘Again?’”
Arcidonna, a woman’s group, filed a lawsuit against Berlusconi last month for 25 years of abuse against Italian women. “The conduct of the prime minister—now charged with child prostitution—is the final straw,” says Valeria Ajovalasit, the group’s president.
Berlusconi is only part of the problem. According to recent data, Italy is even more sexist than comparable nations.
According to the 2010 Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum, Italy ranks 74th in terms of women’s rights, behind Colombia, Peru, and Romania. Indicators include wage parity, labor-force participation, and domestic violence. Other statistics reveal 95 percent of Italian men have never used a washing machine, and that Italian women spend 21 hours a week on housework while Italian men spend only four.
Luckily, women have started wide-reaching protests across Italy against Berlusconi's sexist speech. Let's hope that this is the start of a larger movement towards equality.