London, Aug 1: Bad times refuse to end for Silvio Berlusconi. A Milan academic has revealed that more than 15,000 Italian women have approved a petition attacking the "sexist policies, behaviours and discourse" of the business tycoon.
Thousands of women responded to an appeal on the internet, which was made in Jun 2009, after Italian academics urged the wives of world leaders to boycott the G8 summit to protest against the alleged antics of the Italian Prime Minister, Professor Chiara Volpato, from the University of Milan-Bicocca, said.
The leader's wives, including Sarah Brown, however, dismissed the appeal and joined their husbands at the summit in L'Aquila.
Volpato pinpointed that the release of audio tapes allegedly showing intimate conversations recorded while the Prime Minister was having sex with a prostitute, Patrizia D'Addario, had enraged Italian women, reports The Times.
"Fifteen thousand women are convinced that the time has come to speak up," Professor Volpato said.
"Mr Berlusconi's behaviour, and that of many other politicians of his coalition, has greatly damaged the image of Italy internationally, strengthening the stereotype that Italians endorse old-fashioned macho attitudes. What is worse is that young women and girls are consistently taught the idea that their bodies rather than their abilities and their knowledge will be the key to success in this society," the expert added.
Professor Volpato said that the petitioners, who also include writers, librarians and journalists, rejected the "objectification" of women, often reinforced by many entertainment programmes aired on Berlusconi's television network.
"The personal behaviour of Mr Berlusconi is in line with the way women are portrayed in the mass media that he controls, typically lightly dressed and silent beauties, whose only purpose is to serve as decoration, while older, fully dressed men are running the show," she said.
She said that the academics would meet next month to consider a public awareness campaign.
"We have to take the initiative but we are not sure what form that will take," she said.
"We may consider demonstrations because we are not being given any space in the media to voice our point of view. We are being shunned," she added.