Are we really all whores, dear Silvio?
By Freestate On 11 Jul, 2013 At 01:01 PM | Categorized As Columns | With 0 Comments

THE Italian attitude towards sex and politics is almost revolutionary, you could say.
Supporters of Silvio Berlusconi, the libidinous former prime minister, held a protest outside the court where his trial was going on last week, one of whose posters read: “We are all whores!”
With that declaration, they were insisting that their hero was no different from any other virile, able-bodied male in the world — or particularly in Italy?

Why should he be singled out for special punishment only because he has had these many amazing affairs with many women, including one underage sex purveyor named Ruby Heartstealer?
His case took more than 26 months, 50 court hearings and countless breathless column inches from journalists worldwide.
But it took just four minutes for the sentence that he had feared to be delivered.
According to The Guardian newspaper of London: “At 5.19pm, before a fascist-era sculpture showing two men struck down by a towering figure, the judges swept into the courtroom and pronounced their damning verdict for Italy’s longest-serving postwar prime minister. By 5.23pm, it was all over.
“At the culmination of a trial that helped strike the final nail in the coffin of the playboy politician’s international reputation, the judges found Berlusconi guilty both of paying for sex with the underage prostitute nicknamed Ruby Heartstealer and abusing his office to cover it up.
“They even went beyond the prosecutors’ sentencing requests, ordering him to serve seven — rather than six — years in prison and face a lifetime ban on holding public office.”
Nothing like that has ever happened in Africa.
It is not that our politicians are more virtuous than the Italians.
It is just that . . . well . . . we do things differently.
Polygamy is legal in many countries.
So any man — never mind  a politician — can have many “wives”.
In Zimbabwe, they are nicknamed “small houses”.
Although a Christian country, the licentiousness among our politicians is accepted almost as a way of life — our version of La Dolce Vita.
But if we were as frank about this as we are not frank about other things — corruption?  — we ought to accept that few of our politicians would call Berlusconi, if he were a kettle, black.
All this occurs even as African adults, from the presidents down, continue to admonish the young against promiscuity.
There is hypocrisy for you.

What has not been examined closely is the relationship between licentiousness and rampant corruption at the highest levels.
Berlusconi was an example — corrupt through and through.
He used his wealth to corrupt others to make his life of moral turpitude easier than if he were impecunious.
That he is described as the longest-serving Italian prime minister ever after World War II suggests Italians cheered his bed-hopping.
Is it accepted that it was his lifestyle which eventually landed Italy into its current mess?
African countries, including the best resource-endowed, have landed into the same mess.
Unfortunately, there is no aid from the equivalent of the EU.
In a few countries, the soldiers have stepped in — not specifically to correct things, for they have as insatiable a taste for decadence as the politicians they replaced.

“Perhaps fittingly,” The Guardian said, “for a case that cast a spotlight on the murky nexus of sex and power that prosecutors argued was at the heart of his premiership — in which young women were procured, they said, ‘for the personal sexual satisfaction’ of the billionaire septuagenarian — all three judges were female.”
Elsewhere in the world, women are not having the good life they would wish.
In Syria, the civil strife has led to girls of 14 being married off because that would guarantee their safety from certain death than if they were single.
In some African countries, marriage for underage girls is resorted to for material gain, particularly in countries in social and civil strife.

There are few instances, anywhere in the world, where men — young and old — have such rotten luck.
That is, only if you leave out the boys being turned into killers by rebel leaders.
This is turning out not to be a good world for women — good or bad.
As with many other woes, Africa has the worst of it.

Bill Saidi is a writer based in Harare.

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