London, June 23 (ANI): In the first sign of a public reaction against Silvio Berlusconi, three social sciences academics have urged wives of the world leaders due to attend next month's G8 summit in Italy to boycott the meeting because of the Italian premier's "sexist" and "offensive" attitude to women.
Although the Italian Prime Minister's wife will not be hosting as she is seeking a divorce, a number of wives, including Sarah Brown and Michelle Obama, are to join their husbands at the summit.
Veronica Lario's announcement of separation came at the end of April after Berlusconi attended the 18th birthday party of an aspiring model. Since then, a series of allegations about his personal life has emerged.
Now, the academics have written an "Appeal to the First Ladies" and claim to have garnered "hundreds of signatures" in support of the letter, reports The Times.
"We are profoundly indignant, as women employed in the world of universities and culture, at the way in which the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi treats women both in public and in private," the letter reads.
It said they were referring not only to Berlusconi's personal relations with women, which had "transcended the personal sphere and assumed public significance", but also to his recruitment of women from the world of showbusiness for politics.
The academics said they were also referring to his "sexist speeches", which "systematically undermine the female presence on the social and instititutional scene", while his behaviour "gravely undermines the dignity of women on a moral, civil and cultural level".
The letter ends: "As citizens of Italy, Europe and the world, we appeal to the First Ladies of those countries taking part in the forthcoming G8 at L'Aquila to boycott the event and to state forcefully that the delegitimisation of women in one country offends and strikes at women of all countries."
The letter was signed by Chiara Volpato, lecturer in social psychology at Bicocca University, Milan; Angelica Mucchi Faina, lecturer in social psychology at Perugia Unversity; and Anne Maass, associate professor of social psychology at Padua University.
Professor Bianca Beccalli, head of the Study Centre for Women and Gender Differences at Milan University, said: "We have hundreds of signatures and are trying to get more. It is not a question of quantity but quality - we want to get Italy's most prominent and distinguished women on board." (ANI)