03 February 2009

Berlusconi Rape Remarks Draw Fire

(Not actual photo - for illustrative purposes only)

ROME (UPI) -- Opponents say Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is insensitive after he remarked soldiers can't be used to protect all "beautiful girls" from rape.

Commenting on demands for more troops to be deployed on Italian streets after three high-profile rape cases in Rome this month, Berlusconi said, "We would need as many soldiers as there are beautiful girls in Italy -- which we will never manage." That comment has enraged women's advocates, The Times of London reported Monday.

Walter Veltroni, leader of Italy's center-left parliamentary opposition, said Berluscoini's remarks showed a "lack of sensitivity," while Vittoria Franco, the shadow Minister for Equal Opportunities, added, "Berlusconi would do better to stay silent rather than make offensive remarks about women. In effect, he is saying that if women go out alone, they risk being violated or attacked because the whole territory cannot be garrisoned," The Times reported.

The latest rape case to make headlines happened last week. Authorities said a woman was gang raped after her boyfriend was beaten up and locked in a car trunk. Police led a raid on an illegal Roma gypsy camp, which sparked vigilante attacks on immigrants, the newspaper said.

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