Berlusconi Faces Trial and the Wrath of Italy’s Women

Time has just published my story on Berlusconi’s women troubles.

Silvio Berlusconi has never had this much trouble with women. After a weekend in which hundreds of thousands of women turned out to demonstrate against him, the Italian Prime Minister was officially indicted on Tuesday on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing the power of his office to cover it up. In her ruling, judge Cristina Di Censo accepted the argument put forth by prosecutors that the strength of the evidence against Berlusconi was “obvious” enough to warrant an accelerated trial. The proceedings, set to begin on April 6, will take place before three other female judges.

The ruling has energized Italy’s fractured opposition and given strength to those who argue that Italian culture — fueled in no small part by Berlusconi’s media empire — has a long way to go when it comes to women’s rights. “Leaving aside for a moment the Prime Minister’s behavior, which I find incredibly deviant, this is a problem that regards all parts of life and the economy in our country,” Alessia Mosca, a parliamentarian with Italy’s Democratic Party, tells TIME. Italian women have one of the lowest employment rates in Europe, shoulder a disproportionate share of the country’s housework, and suffer from badly managed and inadequate services, such as daycare. “Sure, the first thing is that Berlusconi should resign and submit himself to the court’s judgment, but we also have a responsibility to intervene on a problem that touches all sorts of sectors,” says Mosca.

Read the rest.