Silvio Berlusconi speaks during a political rally in Turin
. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino
An Italian woman has demanded an apology from former
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after he crudely joked with
her on stage about sex, days before a national election.
Angela Bruno, a 30-year-old employee of renewable energy firm
Gruppo Green Power, said in an interview on the La7 Channel
that her 13-year-old daughter had cried for days after seeing
a video of the encounter at a business event, and the
response it provoked.
"I want an apology for all Italian women because they should
not have to suffer insults like this, at work or outside
work," she said. "This is the Italy I don't want anymore and
I hope no one wants."
The 76-year-old media tycoon, who is on trial for sex with an
underage prostitute, stepped down as prime minister in
November 2011 at the height of the euro zone debt crisis, but
is now seeking a fifth term in government in the February
Bruno was presenting a contract to Berlusconi at a recent
ceremony when the former prime minister asked her suggestive
questions in front of senior colleagues, staff and members of
"Do you come?...only once?...how many times do you
come?...with what sort of time intervals?," he asked her with
a smirk on his face. At the time she went along with the
banter giggling nervously as the audience roared with
"It sounds altogether like a good proposal," he continued. He
then asked her to turn around, took a look at her bottom and
said, "Yes, it is a convincing offer", prompting a round of
applause and more laughter from men and women in the
A video of the exchange has been viewed more than 950,000
times on YouTube and has sparked outrage on social networks,
reviving memories of the ire Berlusconi's chauvinistic
behaviour provoked during his last term in government.
Roughly two years ago, more than a million Italians joined
street rallies in protest against his treatment of women
while serving as prime minister, after details of the "Bunga
Bunga" sex parties at his Milan villa began to emerge.
Bruno told Italian television on Monday evening that she had
tried to keep the conversation on a professional level but
had been too intimidated to reprimand Berlusconi in public
due to his position of power and the presence of senior
In the interview, the married mother-of-one said she had been
offended and embarrassed and demanded the apology.
"He may think he is joking but he has to be a serious person
if he wants to represent Italy. He can't get away with
presenting an image like this," Bruno said.
Berlusconi did apologise in an interview on Radio 105 on
Tuesday, but also said that Bruno had seemed to enjoy herself
at the time. He urged her to stop reading leftwing
newspapers, which he said had exaggerated the seriousness of
Italy's female employment rate, at 46.5 percent, is the
lowest in the European Union after Malta and Greece,
according to EU data. Italy ranks 80th in the World Economic
Forum's Global Gender Gap Index, mainly due to women's
limited economic participation.